What you need to know before you buy a drone

Jason Bell is a drone enthusiast. Bell says he had to learn to rules before flying. (KSN Photo)
Jason Bell is a drone enthusiast. Bell says he had to learn to rules before flying. (KSN Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – Drones have been becoming more popular among enthusiasts, and they have been flying off the shelves. But before you invest, there are several rules you need to know.

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KSN News spoke with Jason Bell. He recently purchased a drone and has since become an enthusiast.

“Pretty much, I enjoy toys. Just being an adult kid,” said Bell. “I got a couple trees out in my front yard, and I’ve been working flying around those and not crashing.”

Bell says along with learning the skills, he learned the rules of where and how he can legally fly.

VIDEO EXTRA BELOW | So you want to start flying an unmanned aircraft? 

“Just being careful around large crowds of people. Large stadium events, you can’t fly them around.”

Knowing the rules is where it gets tricky. The FAA has proposed a long list of what you can’t do when flying a drone. (Scroll down to bottom of the story to see the list)

Right now, those are just recommendations, but ones the Kansas Department of Transportation Division of Aviation says everyone who operates a drone should be following now.

Drones Maps
Map of airports in the Wichita metro area (KSN Photo)

“We just need to ensure that the public is responsible with using their own hobbyist,” said Nathaniel Hinkel, KDOT Division of Aviation Marketing & Outreach.

Some of those proposed rules include the following:

  • Weighs less than 55 pounds
  • Flown below 400 feet
  • Can’t be flown beyond sight of the operator
  • Need to stay outside 5 miles of an airport.
  • Need to see and avoid other airplanes

That is where things get tricky in places like Wichita, There are nine airports, seven are public and two are private. When you stay out of the five mile airspace, there aren’t many places left to fly.

“In Wichita, with so many airports, that would actually cover a good part of the city,” said Hinkel.

Hanger Hobbies owner, Josh Ikehorn, has seen a lot of interest but also concern.

“People that feel their privacy is being invaded, if they see one flying at all, they assume that it has a camera, and they assume that you’re taking pictures of them.”

EXTRA | Don’t want your house to be overflown? Enter your address at NoFlyZone.org.

What can I do with my model aircraft
Infographic: What Can I do With My Model Aircraft

The FAA’s proposed rules would prevent flying a drone over anyone not involved in the operation and would prohibit commercial use.

“If you received any kind of compensation or hire or if you sold those pictures; you were taking pictures with that, that would be considered commercial purposes and that would be against the FAA rules,” added Hinkel.

But using drones, to help your business is not prohibited in the FAA’s most recent rules.

“The two large groups of people we sell drones to are real estate agents, they can take pictures of houses they’re selling, and farmers. They check fences. That would be the business side,” said Ikehorn.

Before any of the proposed regulations are final, the FAA is allowing public input. They know the stakes are high.

“The United States has the busiest, most complex airspace in the world. So, the FAA is taking its time to take a systematic approach to implementing the drones, unmanned systems into what is already a very busy airspace,” said Hinkel.

Meanwhile, as for Jason, he is glad to work within the proposed regulations saying for him flying is just fun.

“I enjoy being outside. Keeps you out of trouble. Spending all of your money on RC cars and stuff opposed to going out and running into other extra curricular activities so to say,” said Bell.

There is not set date for when the rules will be finalized. It will be sometime next year.

Video: So you want to start flying an unmanned aircraft? 


FAA drone regulations

Click to download the PDF of drone regulations


Interactive Quiz: Are you ready to fly a drone?

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