UAV Safety, Laws, and Good Citizenship

Why Should We Care About “Drone” Safety?

  • Because it’s the law!
  • Because it helps keep property from being damaged.
  • Because it helps keeps other people from getting hurt.
  • Because it helps keep YOU from getting hurt!

Small Unmanned Aerial Systems/Vehicles (sUAS or sUAV for short), sometimes referred to as “drones,” are extremely fun. However, they have the potential to do a lot of damage if they are not used properly. Drones—small sUAVs/sUASs/Quadcopters/Hexacopters—are hobby aircraft.  

For many years, building and flying model aircraft was a hobby that only the most dedicated and skilled hobbyists got into, because it was expensive and the aircraft required a lot of skill to build and to fly.  So, relatively few people built and flew model aircraft, though they learned a lot about how aircraft work and about general aviation along the way. Serious accidents were rare and most model aircraft weren’t capable enough to do a lot of damage.

Recently, technology has improved and the cost of components has come down to a point where many more people can afford to buy a small model aircraft or sUAV.  In the United States alone, there were an estimated 1 million sUAVs on the day this was published. Almost anyone can go buy a “drone,” take it outside, and fly it.

It's time for all sUAV operators to educate themselves about safety and good "drone citizenship." The behavior of sUAV operators across the country impacts the perception of this hobby and this industry, and by extension impacts future regulations and therefore your future freedoms and responsibilities as a UAV operator. This guide provides general outlines, and points you to authoritative resources. 

If you have an ELEV-8 Quadcopter you must register it with the Federal Aviation Administration's UAS Registry before flying outdoors.