Drone Users Reminded to Fly Safe This Summer Wednesday, July 05, 2017

RALEIGH – With summer officially here, more and more drone operators are heading outdoors to enjoy this technology.  An estimated 19,000 North Carolinians now own and operate drones for recreational purposes. 

“Drones are an exciting new technology, and we want people to be able to enjoy them safely and responsibly,” said Division of Aviation Director Bobby Walston. “All drone operators should make safety their number one priority and take the time to understand the rules and guidelines.”

North Carolina’s Division of Aviation website helps operators learn how to use drones, also called Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), safely and legally in North Carolina.

Recreational Use

The N.C. Department of Transportation, along with the Federal Aviation Administration and model aircraft enthusiast groups, have established several safety guidelines that when followed could ensure a fun and safe experience:

  • Always fly below an altitude of 400 feet and fly within your direct line of sight;
  • Do not fly within five miles of an airport without notifying that airport first;
  • Never fly near emergency response efforts, other aircraft, public events, or directly over people;
  • Do not fly drones that weigh more than 55 pounds or for compensation; and
  • Night flying is not recommended, even if your drone is equipped with lights.

Non-Recreational Use

North Carolinians interested in flying a drone for commercial or government operations must obtain a permit from the N.C. Division of Aviation. Before applying, prospective users must pass NCDOT’s UAS Knowledge Test.  The permitting system began in 2016 and is designed to help drone owners better understand restrictions on drone use through a simple and efficient online process.

More than 1,200 North Carolinians have received drone operator permits since the system’s launch. Those wishing to fly a drone in North Carolina must also meet all federal requirements.

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