Drones (also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems) continue to grow in popularity, and will undoubtedly land under many Christmas trees this year.

With their popularity, new Federal Aviation Administration regulations govern drone owners and where they can legally fly.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office UAS Unit wants to remind new owners about those important regulations.

Drones must be registered with the FAA: The process can be easily completed by visiting the FAA’s UAS website at https://registermyuas.faa.gov/. Any aircraft weighing between 0.55 lbs (250 grams) and up to 55.0 lbs (25 kg) must be registered. Drone operators who operate unregistered drones can be subject to civil and criminal penalties. 

Know where to fly: The FAA has determined that certain airspaces are prohibited for drone operations, especially those in close proximity to airports, helipads, and military/government agencies. There are also several airspace restrictions which apply to the operation of drones such as stadiums, sporting events, NASCAR races, wildfires, and areas with temporary flight restrictions. The FAA has created an app, B4UFLY that can easily be downloaded to your smartphone or tablet that will tell you, using your device’s GPS locator, what type of airspace you are in. For more information on the app B4UFLY please visit https://www.faa.gov/uas/where_to_fly/b4ufly/media/UAS_B4UFLY_QandA.pdf
For more information on airspace restrictions, please visit https://www.faa.gov/uas/where_to_fly/airspace_restrictions/

Do your homework: Make sure to read and understand all instructions for your drone. Never fly your drone without conducting a basic preflight check and always make sure your drone’s battery system is fully charged. Also, if applicable, learn how your UAS' "Return to Home" function works in the event of an emergency.

Parents: Monitor their children’s activities when using drones. Many basic drones purchased in stores can fly to heights of 300 to 400 feet or more and can, in some cases, cause problems and dangers for manned aircraft and medivac helicopters. Drones should never be flown over private property, businesses, schools, or crowds of people. Even light-weight drones can cause injury if falling from considerable heights.