Following Rules
by Terry Young

How to avoid costly and unpleasant surprises

Over the last year or so, using drones for aerial photos and videos has created public excitement but also safety and privacy concerns. Even though they have been around for a long time, drones were either extremely expensive, or something that home hobbyists built themselves.

It's only been in the last couple of years that drone prices lowered, grabbing public imagination. Having some impressive drones in the stores for between $500-$1,000 led to many unmanned aircraft flying around in places that previously only saw commercial planes and helicopters.

With more and more drones in the sky, there soon followed reports of drones flying close to airports, crashing into property or people, or flying over places like prisons or restricted military areas.

Using unqualified photographers
for aerial photos is a big risk that
exposes one to liability and FAA fines.

It soon became clear that there needed to be rules and regulations and the FAA began deliberations. In 2016 two types of regulations were introduced, covering both recreational and commercial use.

Recreational user rules are common sense, such as: no flying for money, keep the drone in sight, no flying at night, no flying over or close to people, no flying in restricted places, and no flying above 400 feet.

For commercial users, there are stricter rules. We have to pass a remote pilot exam to become licensed. The FAA exam requires knowledge of elements learned by commercial and private airplane pilots, including how to read aeronautical charts and airspaces, observation and prediction of weather patterns, and how those weather conditions will affect the aircraft flight characteristics.

We must log and monitor flights, perform inspections before we fly, and understand the procedures for different types of FAA airspaces. For example, we are not allowed to fly within a few miles of an airport without first contacting the tower and giving information about what we're going to be doing.

Insurance is also very important. Drones are very stable, but accidents can happen. A sudden gust of wind, power loss, electronic issue, or pilot error and the drone could fall from the sky, breaking windows, cutting wires, or hitting a person or a vehicle.

Even with the rules in place, there are people who skirt them and fly without a license because they think nothing will happen. I have heard stories of real estate agents who use unqualified photographers, or friends or family members, to take aerial photos of their properties. They are taking a big risk. If an accident happens, they are exposing themselves to liability, and hefty FAA fines for unlicensed pilots.

That's why I believe in doing things by the book, to avoid unpleasant and costly surprises.

When you want to make an impression using aerial photography and video, imagination is the only limitation. Call me today to discuss how to give a new perspective to your business.

Terry Young is an FAA licensed drone pilot and professional photographer and videographer.  His 30 plus years of experience in pre- and post-production of both still photography and video, coupled with the latest equipment,  enable him to capture amazing, high quality images.