Over the past few years, drones have become one of the hottest Christmas gifts, and this year is no exception. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have recently become more popular and more affordable, resulting in a rise in recreational drone use. Before you launch your new toy skyward, you need to be aware of FAA rules and certifications as well as any applicable state laws that apply to your device. Check out this primer on drone restrictions and regulations before you take off:
In North Carolina, the State Department of Transportation (NCDOT) does not require you to obtain a license or permit from the Division of Aviation for recreational drones usage. However, users are subject to the following guidelines:
- Always fly below an altitude of 400 feet, & fly within your direct line of sight.
- Be aware of Federal Aviation Administration safety guidelines.
- Do not fly near stadiums, public events, or directly over people.
- Do not fly near aircraft, especially near airports.
- Do not fly near emergency response efforts such as fires or hurricane recovery efforts.
- Do not fly for compensation.
- Do not fly at night.
- Do not fly a drone that weighs more than 55 pounds.
South Carolina currently has no laws for flying drones but introduced the South Carolina Drone Flying Senate Bill S498 in March 2015. This bill has yet to become law, so for the time being, South Carolina residents just need to abide by the general FAA drone regulations when piloting the aircraft.
General FAA regulations are similar to the North Carolina guidelines but also require recreational drone pilots to refrain from flying while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and to stay away from surrounding obstacles. The FAA requires you to register your drone online regardless of its weight or how you intend to use it. Also, keep in mind that National Parks have banned the used of drones within their periphery.
Once you have familiarized yourself with your local and federal drone guidelines, you may think you're ready for takeoff — but not so fast. Who pays for the broken window if I crash my drone into someone's house? Drones can cause accidental property damage, so before taking your new drone for a spin, make sure your AAA homeowners insurance has you covered. Call us at 1-866-315-1252, or visit your local AAA Insurance Agent to find out more and happy flying!