6 things to know before flying your drone
Flying drones into fireworks shows? Someone did it here last year, and now it’s illegal.
But pilots should know other rules as they launch their unmanned aerial vehicles, aka drones.
James Mackler, a U.S. Army veteran, pilot and lawyer at Frost Brown Todd here, has a specialty in drone law. On Tuesday, he led a 90-minute training session at the Nashville Bar Association for lawyers.
He also discussed six things the public should know before takeoff:
1. Know the difference between commercial and hobby use as the federal government defines it. The Federal Aviation Administration places more regulations on commercial use.
The basics: If you can make money off the flight, it’s a commercial use. This can include charging people to watch flights, taking aerial photos of events, even advertising revenue for posting drone video on sites like YouTube.
Those come with some protections from civil and criminal consequences.
3. Avoid flying over and photographing nonparticipating individuals. Get consent of property owners.
That reduces the risk of violating federal regulations and your state’s laws.
But other laws could come into play, including those that have to do with public endangerment. Flying a 50-pound drone inside an arena during a concert or hockey game is not a good choice.
5. Know state laws. Some states, including Tennessee, prevent citizens from using drones for surveillance on private property and from flying above open-air events with 100 or more people without permission.
6. Stay tuned; many rules are still being worked out. Tennessee trespassing law says drones cannot be flown into airspace over private property the FAA doesn’t regulate, but Mackler said the FAA claims jurisdiction over all airspace as soon as any aircraft leaves the ground.
“This is an example of a law that’s ripe to be challenged,” Mackler said of Tennessee’s law.