New regulations issued for drone users


TRI-CITIES, TN/VA (WJHL)- For folks who may be getting a drone for Christmas, we’re in your corner with some important information you need to know before that first flight.

The Federal Aviation Administration is now requiring all drones be registered.

According to the FAA, anyone who has purchased a drone as of Dec. 21 has until Jan. 20, at midnight, to register their drone online for free.

After that date, the FAA will charge a five dollar fee to register your drone.

Richard Blevins, the head of  the Aviation Department at Northeast State Community College, said registering your drone is not optional — it’s mandatory.

According to the FAA’s website, those who don’t register their drone could face civil and criminal penalties.

“Tomorrow morning, we’re going to have a lot of drone pilots waking up. Drones can fly several thousands of feet and fly in excess of 50 miles per hour,” Blevins said. “So, you can imagine this hitting a small aircraft, a manned aircraft or helicopter. It could cause significant damage and be a catastrophic event.”

That’s one of the reasons why recreational drone users are now being required to register any personal aircrafts that weigh half a pound or more.

“I think it’s a positive hobby for kids and I think it’s great to get more girls and women interested in aviation and the drones and the different things that you can do with them,” Debbie Clark said.

Debbie Clark’s daughter, Kimberly Clark, wants to be a pilot or aviation instructor when she grows up.

Her daughter said the hobby makes her family nervous, but learning to fly a drone has helped her get one step closer to her dream.

“It was very exciting to get (my first drone) and my first flying experience was very nerve racking but it was also very fun,” Kimberly Clark said. “I like learning how to fly planes and all that.”

Drones can also be difficult to maneuver, especially if it’s your first time operating one.

“I crashed it a couple times and it flew into a tree, but it didn’t break, so that’s a good thing,” Kimberly Clark said.

“The only thing I recommend is people take their time,” Blevins said. “Find an open area without an obstructions, no power lines, no houses, those kinds of things. Go out, put it in a hover and fly straight out and straight back and get used to the controls of it.”

The following are some regulations that go along with flying a drone:

  • You have to have it registered before you fly outdoors.
  • You shouldn’t fly a drone at more than 400 feet
  • Keep the drone in your line of sight
  • You’re not allowed to fly a drone within 5 miles of an airport
  • Unless you have permission from air traffic control
  • Never fly drones over people, events, or traffic

“You have to have it registered before you fly outdoors,” Blevins said. “The registration process is very simple and very easy. There are a couple requirements.”

Blevins added that drone operators “have to be at least 13 years old to use the online service and you have to use a credit card. They do charge you five dollars, but those five dollars are given back to you by the FAA and within the first 30 days. Starting Dec. 21 that fee is waived.”

To register your drone follow this link:

Blevins is currently looking for two adjunct professors to teach at Northeast State in the aviation department. To inquire about a position or for any assistance with registering your drone, e-mail him at rablevins@northeaststate.eduCopyright 2015 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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