By Kimberly Wolten, Guest blogger and author of A Guide to Drone Safety
Editor’s note: With miles of wide-open waterways, vast networks of hiking trails and unsurpassed recreational areas, Lake Havasu City offers a one-of-a-kind experience for drone users. As with any outdoor activity, some basic safety rules should always be followed.
Drones are an extremely popular Christmas present. In fact, over 1 million drones will be sold this holiday season. Drones don’t seem like they are a safety problem on the surface, but they can cause tremendous damage if flown in restricted airspace. Here are some tips that beginners must know before taking to the skies:
- Never fly near any manned aircraft.
- Only fly within a 5 mile radius of an airport if you have special permission.
- Don’t fly above 400 feet from ground level.
- Always maintain visual sight of your drone.
- Do not fly near emergency situations like fires (it can interfere with rescue aircraft).
- Follow flight restrictions around racetracks and stadiums. Big events often prohibit drone use.
- Avoid flying over unprotected people.
- Never fly over moving vehicles.
- Don’t drink or use drugs when flying a drone.
- Check local rules and regulations.
- Fly commercially only if you have a license.
Failure to follow these rules can result in big fines or even loss of life. Hundreds of near misses have happened between drones and passenger planes in the United States. There are over 13,000 airports in the U.S. so finding a place to fly can be hard. Luckily, the FAA designed an app called B4UFLY that will tell you if the area that you are flying in is safe. It might seem like a lot to take in, but being safe when you are flying a drone mostly comes down to common sense.
People who have never flown a drone before often crash it when they are learning. This is because drones can lurch forward at fast speeds while you are trying to figure out the controls. When you fly your drone for the first time, check to see if your drone has a beginner friendly mode to lower your chances of crashing. Also, install blade guards to protect the drone from damage. Finally, fly your drone in a wide-open space when you are learning.
Drones are a popular gift for a reason. They are a lot of fun to fly and cheaper than many people realize. Just make sure that whoever the drone is for knows these basic rules before taking flight.
Kimberly Wolten is a quadcopter enthusiast and pilot who writes for 3D Insider about emerging technologies such as drones and 3D printing.