This is National Drone Safety Awareness Week and Eyewitness News is proud to participate.
With drones becoming increasingly more popular, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants to spread the word on how to use them safely and responsibly.
WPRI 12 and Nexstar take drone safety very seriously. T.J. Del Santo, the pilot for Sky Drone 12, also sees safety as a high priority when flying drones.
“The first thing I think of when preparing for a flight is, ‘Is it safe to fly there?'” Del Santo said. “There have been a few flights I’ve had to cancel because the conditions didn’t look safe – sometimes it was from the weather, but usually because of the number of people there.”
Sky Drone 12 has logged more than 50 hours of flying time over the skies of Southern New England. It’s captured incredible sights – like a ship graveyard near Providence, beautiful snowy landscapes and storm damage across Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
- MORE: Learn all about Sky Drone 12
- Sky Drone 12 on Twitter: Follow @SkyDrone12
- Sky Drone 12 on Instagram: Follow @SkyDrone12
“We have over 140 pilots,” said William Hague, the Director of Engineering, Field Systems for Nexstar. One of Hague’s duties is to oversee a large fleet of drones and drone pilots.
“All of our pilots have gone to school and passed their FAA Part 107 test. We mandate they have a minimum of 10 hours of flight time before they fly in public,” Hague said.
LEARN MORE: Part 107 Rules
Before a drone even lifts off the ground, there are a number of safety items every drone pilot needs to consider.
MORE: Where can I fly? | FAA Drone Safety
“The biggest rule is the no-fly zone, being near the airports,” Hague said. “A lot of the federal government has areas of no flying, military bases, certain facilities. No flying over people, no flying over moving cars.”
Hague also mentioned drone pilots should not interfere with emergency operations during wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes. Pilots should ask emergency personnel if it is safe to fly before taking off.
A drone must always be in the line of sight of the pilot, and it should stay below 400 feet. Although not required by the FAA, in almost all cases, Sky Drone 12 must have a visual observer present to serve as a second set of eyes to the pilot, watching for birds, people and other aircraft.
Another important reminder: Don’t over-fly your drone’s battery. Make sure you have enough battery life for your drone to return home. The best practice is to land the drone when the battery is at 30%.
It’s important to remember to register your drone with the FAA if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds.