What New Drone Owners Must Know in 2020

Photo: Darly Chappell
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What New Drone Owners Must Know in 2020

If you are one of the many that have a brand new drone, welcome to the wide world of flight. Hope you are ready for the excitement of flying and the magic that is aerial photography.

Before you take to the sky with your new quadcopter, or other multi-rotor flier, there are a few things you might want to know – actually, if you are in the United States, there are things that you NEED to know. 

Basic drone flight guidelines in the United States

  • Fly at or below 400 feet above the ground
  • Always fly within line-of-sight, if you can’t see it, bring it in
  • Stay away from airports
  • Stay away from airplanes – they have the right of way in the air
  • Do not fly over people
  • Do not fly over or close to sports events or stadiums
  • Do not fly near emergency situations such as car crashes or building fires
  • Do not fly under the influence
  • Be aware of controlled airspace


The B4UFLY app is an easy-to-use smartphone app that helps drone operators learn where they can and can’t fly. B4UFLY is available for free download in the App Store for iOS and Google Play store for Android

Airmap App

Make no mistake, the final authority on drone flight is the FAA, however, Airmap has proven themselves a great resource for identifying safe places to fly. In our opinion, the app is easier to read and understand than the FAA’s B4UFly app, it has powerful functionality for commercial pilot operations and can now even directly control your DJI drone. We highly recommend Airmap as a part of your drone arsenal. Download the Free Airmap for IOS or Google Play Here.

FAA sUAS “Drone” Registration

If your sUAS weighs 0.55 lbs or more, you must register your drone with the FAA before you fly in the United States.  

The history of this requirement has been shaky, it was enacted only a few years ago, blocked in the courts in early 2017, then re-enacted by presidential intervention at the end of 2017. The FAA has long been working on updating the laws and requirements for drones, expect to see new ideas and rules as time goes on. Registration costs $5 and you have to be at least 13 years old. Most important, provided with your FAA registration number is the FAA drone flight laws, we’ll cover those below as well


Money – are you being paid to fly?

Let me make this very, very clear, if you are being paid to fly, or in any way being compensated for the images and video you capture from the sky, you NEED a commercial license per Federal Law. We call this the Part 107 around here, but it is officially the FAA’s Remote Pilot Certificate with a sUAS rating. There is a different set of rules to follow, you’ll likely need to get proper flight clearance before you can operate and you should consider insurance on your operations, but you’ll be able to make money with your drone.

Join a Club?

Drones Over Arkansas is a group of hundreds of Drone Pilots across the state. The wealth of knowledge is Imminence.