• Scott Weems

Drone Use - The Basics Demystified

Updated: Dec 5, 2019

Nearly every day we hear a story of drones being used in almost every facet of our business lives and now, our personal lives. From photography and videography to land surveying to farming, and all in between drones have made their way to the mainstream of our everyday lives.

It wasn't that long ago that when someone mentioned the word drone, the military is what first popped into people's minds. Not anymore, it is not uncommon for members of the general public to have one in their home. They are, however, a lot of fun. I am sure you have one or at least know of someone who does.

The Basics

I have been asked a lot of questions regarding drones, drone laws, which drone is best for beginners, how much do they cost, and a thousand other questions. So, I decided to cover some of the basics. I hope this helps you.


The common term is "drone". However, when you start to deal with the FAA, Federal Aviation Administration, you will probably need to know a few more terms.


A drone will also be referred to as a sUAS, Small Unmanned Aircraft System or UAS, Unmanned Aircraft System. The pilot of the drone is called a Remote Pilot and if the remote pilot is flying under Part 107 (explained later) and is in charge of a flight mission, they will be referred to as the Pilot in Command (PIC) or Remote Pilot in Command (RPIC).


The FAA has an acronym for everything. For a few more examples you can go HERE.


Can anyone buy a drone?


Yes, yes they can. If you have just an extra $50 laying around, you can buy a drone. Now grant it, it will be small and you might get 10 minutes of flight time if you get a good $50 drone. As with everything else, you do get what you pay for.


Keep in mind that the FAA has enacted regulations regarding flying drones in United States airspace. Know before you fly! Know Before You Fly is a great resource they are partnered with the FAA. You can visit their website HERE.


Do I need to register my drone?


If you acquire a drone and it weighs more than .55 pounds and less than 55 pounds, you must register your drone with the FAA. You can do that HERE.


Are you a recreational or commercial drone pilot?


Recreational Remote Pilot - This is someone who intends to use the drone for personal recreational uses and NOT FOR PROFIT in any way. If you intend to make a few bucks under the recreational pilot designation, be prepared for the FAA to ask you a few questions.


Commercial Remote Pilot - AKA, the operation of drones under the FAA's Part 107 as a Remote Pilot. This designation is used for a business' who intends to PROFIT from flying a drone. Also, Public Aircraft will fall under this category.


Keep in mind, if you are going to be flying under Part 107 Regulations you must pass an FAA written exam.


For more information regarding this subject and virtually everything you need to know about Recreational and Commercial Remote Pilots go to the FAA website HERE.

Whether you fly under Part 107 or you just fly for fun, the FAA regulations must take priority. For instance, did you know that a remote pilot must not fly higher than 400 feet above ground level and airspace clearances must be obtained before flying in controlled airspace no matter which designation you are flying under?


I hope this answers a few questions for you and if you don't fly a drone now, give it try. They are a lot of fun. Now, I know that I haven't covered everything you need to know in this article, it is just the very basics. There is a lot more you need to know before buying and flying your first drone.


Here are some great resources for future drone pilots.


- To learn more about the FAA and how they factor in the use of drones, go here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/

- To register your drone go here: https://faadronezone.faa.gov/#/

- Before You Fly: http://knowbeforeyoufly.org/


Stay Safe and Happy Flying!