BASIC DRONE RULES
As a Certified Remote Pilot I am allowed to fly under the FAA Small UAS Rule (14 CFR Part 107). Limitations are as follows:
- Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 pounds, including payload, at takeoff
- Fly in Class G airspace
- Keep the unmanned aircraft within visual line-of-sight
- Fly at or below 400 feet
- Fly during daylight or civil twilight
- Fly at or under 100 mph
- Yield right of way to manned aircraft
- Do not fly directly over people
- Do not fly from a moving vehicle, unless in a sparsely populated area
COMMERCIAL VS RECREATIONAL
There are two very separate sets of rules depending on whether you are a commercial drone pilot or recreational hobbyist. If you're flying for fun, there are much less strict requirements. Essentially just to register your drone and avoid controlled airspace. But to use unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for paid services required passing a test, background checks, and certification. I have passed both the FAA Part 107 Airman's Knowledge Test and a criminal background check to earn my Remote Pilot Certificate. This makes it legal for me to use my drones to capture aerial images and video to sell as stock imagery, work on film productions, grab aerial imagery at weddings, or shoot aerial photos and video for real estate purposes.
Class A 18,000 feet mean sea level (MSL) and up, including the airspace overlying the waters within 12 nautical miles (NM) of the coast of the 48 contiguous states and Alaska. Class B Airspace from the surface to 10,000 feet MSL surrounding the nation’s busiest airports - typically a 5 mile radius of surface area. The configuration of each Class B airspace area is individually tailored, consists of a surface area and two or more layers (some Class B airspace areas resemble upside-down wedding cakes). Class C Airspace from the surface to 4,000 feet above the airport elevation (charted in MSL) surrounding second tier airports that have an operational control tower, are serviced by a radar approach control, and have a certain number of IFR operations or passenger enplanements. The configuration of each Class C area is individually tailored. Usually consisting of a surface area with a 5 NM radius. Class D Airspace from the surface to 2,500 feet above the airport elevation (charted in MSL) surrounding those airports that have an operational control tower. The configuration of each Class D airspace area is individually tailored. Class E Controlled airspace that is not Class A, B, C, or D. Class E airspace extends upward from either the surface or a designated altitude to the overlying or adjacent controlled airspace. Also in this class are federal airways, airspace beginning at either 700 or 1,200 feet above ground level (AGL) used to transition to and from the terminal or en route environment. Class E airspace begins at 14,500 MSL over the United States, including that airspace overlying the waters within 12 NM of the coast of the 48 contiguous states and Alaska, up to but not including 18,000 feet MSL. Class G Airspace not designated as Class A, B, C, D, or E. Class G airspace is essentially uncontrolled by ATC except when associated with a temporary control tower.
THE DRONE ADVANTAGEListings for lake homes, rural houses, high end residences, and places with a great view can be significantly augmented with aerial photos. Adding such images to your listings will make a difference. Unique angles that can only be captured with drone photography are essential for commercial properties as well. Instead of demonstrating the beauty and isolation of private residences – with commercial properties the typical goal is to highlight malls, restaurants, department stores, major highways, and tourist centers in close vicinity. Licensed and insured, I have been taking drone photos and video since 2014.