BY MARK BRUNSON
As Christmas is approaching, Santa will be gracing many families with brand new drones under the Christmas tree. As a licensed commercial drone pilot living in Syracuse, I’ve been asked to provide a brief overview of the laws and regulations regarding the use of drones for “recreational flyers” (flights that are purely for fun or personal enjoyment – FYI, posting on YouTube, etc. constitutes nonrecreational use and requires a license).
Please note that governance of all airspace has been granted solely to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Airspace is broken down into classes including:
• Class B, C, D, and E controlled airspace. Controlled airspace is generally any airspace within a five-mile radius (can be larger or smaller) of a controlled airport. NOTE: Much of Syracuse falls within the controlled Class D airspace of Hill Airforce Base. To fly in controlled airspace, you must have airspace authorization (area in blue is restricted and requires authorization from Hill AFB).
• Class G airspace is uncontrolled airspace (area in white). Some of the airspace on the west side of Syracuse is Class G airspace, and a recreational flyer may fly in this airspace under the rules for a “recreational flyer”.
General rules for a “recreational flyer” (not all-encompassing):
• All drones that weigh more than .55 lbs. must be registered with the FAA at https://faadronezone.faa.gov.
• Take the free online test called the “Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST)”.
• Fly your drone at or below 400 feet.
• Keep your drone within your line of sight.
• Be aware of airspace restrictions.
• Never fly near other aircraft of near airports (see above).
• Never fly over groups of people, public events, or stadiums full of people.
• Never fly near emergencies such as fires or recovery efforts.
• Never fly under the influence of alcohol.
Utah has some specific drone laws that are worth mentioning (not all-encompassing – check local laws):
• It is prohibited to launch your drone from certain Utah State Parks, including Antelope Island and Dead Horse Point (prohibited March through October)
• Chasing or disturbing livestock or wildlife
• Using the drone to spy or in a “voyeuristic” manner
A great app for your Android or Apple device is B4UFLY. It is free and will provide any restrictions based on where you are located and can provide access to LAANC system for obtaining authorization to fly in a restricted area if it is available. Have fun with your drone(s) and remember to fly legally.