RALEIGH — National Drone Safety Day is Saturday, and North Carolina officials are bracing for one of the busiest summers yet for the wildly popular devices.
Across the state, there are about 15,000 registered recreational drones and more than 9,500 registered commercial drones, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. But these unmanned aircraft systems can be dangerous, if not operated properly.
That’s why the N.C. Department of Transportation is reminding everyone to follow drone safety guidelines to have a fun, and safe, summer.
“In North Carolina, we are always seeking new ways to push the boundaries of how we can use drones, but safety remains our first priority,” said NCDOT Director of Aviation Bobby Walston. “Drones can be fun and useful, but they can also be dangerous if misused.”
NCDOT’s Division of Aviation has provided the following tips to help pilots make sure they’re flying safely and legally:
- Always fly no more than 400 feet above ground level.
- Always keep the drone within your visual line of sight.
- Respect people’s privacy.
- Avoid flying over events or crowds; never fly directly over people.
- Never fly near or above prisons or airports.
- Don’t fly at night without proper training and lights.
In addition to these guidelines, drone pilots are advised to take the time to learn about the state and federal laws governing drones, as well as local restrictions in their area.
Anyone interested in flying a drone in North Carolina 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.