ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
The holidays are around the corner and on the top of many children and adults’ wish lists is an aerial drone.
A drone is also known as an unmanned aerial vehicle or unmanned aerial system has gained momentum over the past few years. Some are small enough to land in someone’s hand, while some commercial drones are big enough to carry packages up to 12 pounds.
In recent years drones’ numbers have increased due to them becoming more popular and affordable for personal use.
The increase in popularity of drones also brings an increase of safety and concerns.
A new federal law scheduled to begin Dec. 21, states that all drone pilots must register their drones that are between .55 pounds (250 grams) and 55 pounds through the FAA. The first 30 days registration will be free but there will be a $5 registration fee after said date.
The main concern with drones is the possibility of hitting a plane. According to the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, a drone should never fly above 400 feet and should never be flown within 5 miles of an airport or air base. This includes not flying drones on base.
Using a drone requires the operator to be responsible for their aircraft and aware of the area they are flying at. A drone should not leave its controllers line of sight or if it does have a secondary spotter.
“When you become a drone operator, in a sense you become a pilot,” said Douglas Winters, 97th Air Mobility Wing chief of airspace management. “You have to be familiar with the airspace rules.”
Drones should never be flown over groups of people, other UAV’s, stadiums and sporting events and emergency response efforts such as a fire. Drones should be flown in large empty areas.
Other safety tips include:
Be careful of buying cheap/flammable batteries
Never fly under the influence
Fly during daylight conditions
Always do preflight check of rotors, batteries and remote control
Children should have parental supervision
People that are interested in flying drones should start with smaller indoor UAV’s.
“If you are going to learn to ride a motorcycle you don’t go out and buy the fastest bike you know,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Anont Koonkongsatian, 97th Air Mobility Wing Safety Office safety technician and drone enthusiast. “The same goes with drones, you start off small and gradually go up.”
For more information about current and upcoming federal laws on drones go to faa.gov/go/uastfr or contact Douglas Winters at 580-481-6098.