The rules for flying with a drone explained

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Drones are fun, drone are spectacular to film footage you previously could only see in documentaries, movies or shoot out of an helicopter or airplane. Or by skydiving of course. Anyway, most people forget that there are actually strict rules for the use of drones and you are not allowed to use them everywhere. People forget that. People don´t think about the results that a drone crash can have. Statues have been ruined by a drone that crashed, airplanes have almost been hit by drones and many more accidents like these are going to happen since it is easier to get a drone than to disable your Facebook account (shame on you Facebook). And I don’t blame anyone for wanting to get a drone, I absolutely want one myself to create such amazing footage and I am definitely enjoying the drone videos.

However, the rules are important and we have them because some idiots don´t have any logic and think that a statue is going to move if they see the drone coming, so if you don’t want to get a huge fine, get into prison (yes) or get your precious little baby taken away from you then this post that I created is perfect for all my dronie lovers out there.  

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Let´s get to business shall we? First off, don´t think; ´Hey, I just got my new drone. Let´s test how high this thing can.´ It´s an easy mistake but an awful one, that´s for sure. Let´s settle this at first, you cannot, and I repeat CANNOT, go above 120 meters with your drone. And to be honest, it isn´t really needed to go even that high with your new toy because you will be surprised how the world looks from above even at ´only´20 mts. So you should rather start with testing 20 meters up in the air. 

But let´s be honest here, the most important rule is to get to know your drone. Test it, figure out how your new toy works, don´t try it for the first time in the middle of a city. So in other words, use your brain when you want to fly with your drone. It can´t be that hard. One tip though, if you try it or as soon as you´re getting the hang of it, don´t stalk your hot neighbour (unless you give me some of that footage), but no really, privacy is quite important too.

Another rule is that you´re not allowed to test your drone its maneuver abilities when it comes to obstacles that surround you. Nope, another nope. Important is also that you keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at ALL TIMES.  So don´t think that it would be handy to use your drone to go around that big mountain in front of you.

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In the USA there is a rule which states that you cannot fly within 8 km of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying, however, back home in The Netherlands you can´t fly in, this makes perfect sense, no fly zones (so search for the no fly zones when you´re planning on throwing your drone up in the air) and you can´t contact the airport and control tower, since they have better things to do than getting called by a random person who wants to make videos around an airport. I guess that makes sense.

Also, if you´re one of those persons who thinks it´s a great idea to film an airplane from up close, that is perfect. There are spots for that, so get your chair and binocolar ready and have fun, and there are days where you can walk close to airplanes, so do that instead of trying to win the fight of drone versus airplane. Because I´m telling you, you will lose it all times and in different kinds of ways since you also disturb the pilots from having a safe landing or take-off.

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And then there is this, USA version: ´Don´t fly near people or stadiums.´ The Netherlands version: ´Don´t fly above buildings, roads and people.´ And it can get a little bit frustrating, which is understandable, but just imagine this: thousands of people are walking on Times Square when there are five people who, all individually, want to film it from above, they don´t see the other drones because of the lights and craziness around them. As a result of this, some drones crash into each other and fall down, while there are thousands of people walking. And don´t think a drone is as light or soft as a feather, no, it can kill someone with an instance. Like I said before, it can get annoying, but it is for everyone’s safety, so please behave yourselves, and otherwise make sure you´re doing it good.

Getting some good footage of a beautiful city during the night is of course everyone´s dream but, like I said before, it is important to have an eye on your drone at all times, including when it´s dark. Therefore flying in the dark might give you some trouble…

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Finally, there is one last important rule. If you´re getting paid to make some amazing footage of a national park, then you need to get permission for that. In the UK you need permission granted from the CAA (it says on their website that you even need to complete a training Programme to demonstrate your competence with the craft, but I don´t know if this is true for drones as well) and in the USA from the FAA. So do your research so you don´t get a huge fine surprising you when you finished your assignment.

Even though this list sums up most of the rules, they´re not everywhere exactly the same so  don´t forget to check the local laws as well, but in general these are the rules you must not forget. I know I know, rules make it less fun, but deal with it, because rules haven´t been made for nothing. 

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  • Erika Bisbocci

    I’ve been seeing more and more drones flying over tourist attractions recently. And while I’m jealous of their footage, I wouldn’t want a hefty fine for breaking the drone flying laws! That makes a lot of sense that drones can’t fly near airports. I’d never have thought about looking up the restrictions on that.

    • Wow, this is a really late response. I completely overlooked this post. Anyway, I definitely agree with you. I feel very jealous, but the problem is also that a lot of people do not know how to fly one and immediately go into a city with it to test it. Which is obviousy not smart at all. I’m glad I could help a little:)

  • Vyjay Rao

    This is a very different and interesting post, loved it. I am fascinated by drones and what they can do. I understand people going over the top when they get a drone as their ‘new toy’, but these need to be used sensibly and with maturity. Your posts has some very practical do’s and don’ts which is useful for everyone owning a drone or planning to get one.

    • I’m really sorry for this incredible late reply haha. Same here, I’m actually looking at buying the new Dji Mavic to bring with me on my travels, the only downside is that it’s here in Europe quite a bit more expensive than in the us. Exactly, you need to learn how to use one and not go straight away with it in the city. Thank you, I’m glad I could help a little with keeping our airspace a bit safer:)

  • Brianna

    Drones can help take some beautiful landscape photography, but I think there are too many stupid people in the world who will use them incorrectly. It’s almost not even worth getting one unless you’re a photography buff. Otherwise, you really just don’t need it.

    • Hi Brainna, sorry for this really late reply haha. I agree, drones are perfect for that! Absolutely, people just need to think before they do something with their drone. But logical thinking is sometime a bit hard. Since I’m getting more into it, and videos I’m really looking into buying my first drone before the airspace gets too crowded.

  • FullSuitcase

    All this seems to be just common sense, but then many things are, and people still do stupid things. Good post and beautiful pictures!

    • Definitely, but just like you said common sense, does that even exist nowadays? haha. Thank you!!