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Record numbers of people are getting drones for christmas this year. For first time flyers, getting into the air can be a little overwhelming. Digital Sky has put together a list of 8 points that will help you fly smarter and allow you to enjoy your drone longer.

1: Indoor or Outdoor?

To start with, you need to think about where you’re going to be flying your drone. If you’re going to be flying indoors, you won’t need to worry about the FAA as they don’t govern indoor flight. When you take your drone outdoors though, that’s when you need to pay attention to the rules.

2: Learn the Rules.

What exactly are “the rules” though? How do you follow them? That all depends on what you’re going to be doing with your drone. The FAA classifies drone operations based on one thing: use. They’ve come up with two use cases: hobbyist and commercial. To follow the right rules, you need to decide which group you fall into. If you’re going to be flying around the neighborhood for fun, you’ll fall into the “hobbyist” rules. Yet, if you intend to gain any benefit from flying your drone, other than the benefit of enjoying flight, you would likely fall into what’s called Part 107 Operation. This is also known as commercial operation. For example, say your neighbor asks you to take a few pictures of his house in exchange for money. That is a commercial drone operation which requires a license. For the sake of keeping this blog post short, let’s stick to flying your drone for fun.

3: Register It.

After you’ve figured out if the FAA’s rules apply to you, you’ll need to register your drone. Again, if you’re flying indoors, you don’t need to register your drone. Pass this blog post on to someone who will find it useful. You absolutely must register your drone if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds, or 250 grams. How do you know what the weight of your drone is? Generally, it is either written on the box, or in the specifications section of your user manual. To register it, go here. The process is pretty simple, and only costs $5.00.

4: Fly Somewhere Safe.

Next, you need to figure out where the best place to fly your drone is. If it’s your first time flying, I recommend going somewhere nice and open. Go to a park, away from people that you might accidentally injure if something would go wrong. A place free from obstacles works best because it’s easy to avoid obstacles if there aren’t any. Additionally, fly at least 5 miles away from an airport unless you notify the airport, or air traffic control, first. This process can be a hassle for new pilots which is why we recommend staying at least 5 miles from the airport. For an easy way to see where you’re ok to fly, download the B4UFLY app. Get more info on it here.

5: Don’t be stupid.

Keep your drone away from stadiums and other large gatherings of people. Also, avoid areas where law enforcement and firefighters are operating. How angry would you be if there was a forest fire near your home, and firefighting planes were called off because they were at risk of running into a drone? Your house burns up. It’s a bad day for everyone. So, be smart about matters like that.

6: Watch for other aircraft.

So what happens if you’re flying your drone somewhere that’s 5 miles from an airport, and out of nowhere you spot a small plane? It’s not uncommon, especially over urban areas, to see manned aircraft transitioning between airports. If this happens to you, simply descend. Put as much space between you and the other aircraft as possible. You’re required to give right-of-way in situations like this.

7: Keep it close.

You’ll also need to keep the drone within line-of-sight at all times. This means you shouldn’t fly your drone to your buddy’s house half a mile away to see if they’re hanging out without you, since you’ve got a new toy and friends aren’t as cool as drones. Or maybe you think it would be cool to fly behind a building? That’s out of line-of-sight and is frowned upon.

8: Don’t Drink and Drone.

Last but not least, PLEASE, do not fly your drone under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you shouldn’t drive a car while drunk, you probably shouldn’t fly your drone while drunk.

As far as rules go, that’s about it when you’re flying for fun! Like I said, the rules for flying in exchange for anything are much more in-depth. Want to use a drone for business? Get early access to our complete guide to commercial drone use by signing up below.

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