The drone market is soaring, the hottest consumer technology to hit the ground running! Designed 14 years ago for military use, drones have since gained a footing in farming, weather monitoring, search and rescue, and surveillance. Commercial applications continue emerging.
In 2013, drones became available to consumers. Depending on the extent of equipment and features, prices range from $30 to $4,000. There are three types – camera, racing, and toy.
Where to Fly Your Drone
- Rather than tediously sweeping leaves, put your drone to work. The wind gust it generates will quickly corral the debris. Here’s a video clip of a drone on the job:
Your drone can also guard against vandals, thieves, and unwanted animals on your property.
- Go to your local athletic field, and have a race with other flying aces. Plan to meet when the space isn’t densely populated, such as right after sunrise.
- Program your drone for personal errands. Send it to a friend across town to retrieve a borrowed item. Deliver a gift to your mom. Won’t she be surprised! Indoors, use a small drone to fetch keys and remotes.
- As of August 29, 2016, if you’re a licensed real estate agent with the proper qualifications, you can film stills, footage, and videos to showcase properties.
To qualify, you must take a written test and obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate. Issued by the FAA, it remains in effect for 24 months, after which you must reapply. Step-by-step instructions are provided at http://www.cnet.com/uk/how-to/how-to-get-drone-license-to-make-money-faq/.
- Take wedding photos. If you’re a professional videographer, obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate, and you can add drone photography to your services. According to BuzzFeed, videography fees range from $200 per hour to a flat price of $700+. For expert advice on drone wedding photography, read the featured article at: https://www.buzzfeed.com/nicolenguyen/drone-wedding-photography-love-from-above?utm_term=.ogRqPxJDQ0#.npGvM9mOVb.
- Participate in the annual National Drone Racing Championships. In 2016, the event took place at Governors Island in NYC. The race features four categories – Drone, Team, Freestyle, and Wing. To compete, you’ll need a Remote Pilot Certificate, as described above. For national championship details, visit: http://dronenationals.com/.
- While vacationing, capture images of wildlife and scenic vistas. Obtain aerial views of your hotel or campsite. Resort owners can draw guests with lofty shots of their properties. They can also advertise with drone-flown banners.
- Take selfies or pictures of social gatherings, and post them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- After a storm, assess property damage with drone photos. Avoid having to crawl on your rooftop to see if repairs are needed. sUAs are also useful for licensed roof inspectors.
- Document sports events. Drones capture unique angles not possible with conventional photography. If you’re a coach, you’ll gain a valuable perspective on your players. If there’s a child in your life, record their athletic accomplishments and competitions. Grandparents with limited mobility can watch the games from the comfort of home.
Before launching into where you can use a drone, let’s cover legalities, which vary by country. In the US, stringent laws exist for business and recreational use, established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Here’s how to gear up for using your drone.
Register with the FAA.
As of December 2015, registration is mandatory before first flight. The requirement applies to drones weighing between .55 lbs and 55 lbs. If authorities learn that you’re flying an unregistered drone, you’ll be subject to criminal and civil penalties, up to $27,500.
However, registration is a breeze. At https://registermyuas.faa.gov/, provide your name, home address, email address, and drone make and model. Pay the $5 fee, and your registered status remains in effect for three years. The nominal fee covers all the “Small Unmanned Aircraft” (sUA) you own!
Your application will generate proof of ownership and a registration number. You must mark this number on your drone where it’s accessible without a tool. The FAA allows you to place an identification sticker on a removable battery. Alternatively, you can use a permanent marker to write the number on the hull.
Adhere to FAA rules.
- Keep your drone within sight at all times.
- Observe the “No Drone Zone” within 5 miles of an airport, unless you notify the airport and air traffic control tower before approaching.
- Avoid flying over people and stadiums.
- National parks prohibit drones.
- Airspace surrounding Washington D.C. is off limits.
Obtain the free smartphone app, B4UFLY.
Designed by the FAA for both iOS and Android devices, the app specifies airspace restrictions and requirements.
- For the iOS app, go to: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/b4ufly/id992427109?mt=8.
- For the Android version, visit: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.faa.b4ufly2&hl=en.
Are you ready to spread your wings? Drone on!
Yunhong Liu is the founder of We Talk UAV, a new drone community and news site launching later this year.