Flying your Drone Responsibly
What is an unmanned aircraft system?
An unmanned aircraft system (UAS), sometimes called a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot on-board – instead, the UAS is controlled from an operator on the ground. When you fly a drone in the United States, it is your responsibility to understand and abide by the rules.
The FAA allows amateurs/hobbyists to operate drones for non-commercial purposes subject to specific rules provided here: FAA: Fly for Fun.
The FAA has established unique requirements for commercial or institutional drone use (for example, when a Realtor uses a drone to take aerial pictures of a property); these specific rules are provided here: FAA: Fly for Work & Business.
In Texas there are Drone Training Classes held so that you can learn the rules and regulations as well as how to use your drone responsibly. Here is a quick link for those class locations.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Unmanned Aircraft System unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), sometimes called drones, are aircraft without a human pilot onboard. The FAA has defined small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) as UAS that weigh less than 55 pounds including cameras, sensors or cargo.
UAS are Aircraft
Whether you call them UAS, Drones, Remotely Piloted Vehicles, Autonomous Aircraft, or Model Aircraft, they are all aircraft. All aircraft are subject to the rules of the Federal Aviation Regulations and the Statutes and Rules of the State of Texas.
The FAA requires users of all UAS that are not flown in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 14, Part 101, Subpart E to be registered by make, model and serial number. Each aircraft will be issued a registration number.
Flying your drone requires that you understand airspace and the requirements for each type of airspace. Around Georgetown Municipal Airport we are in Class D airspace while the tower is in operation (0700 – 2200) and Class G airspace when the tower is closed (2200 – 0700). You should be aware of the requirements for reporting and flying in all types of airspace, and be able to identify what type of airspace you are in.
Here is a link to an article that goes over some of what we just went over.
UAS Information for Communities
As UAS use becomes more popular, communities are likely to experience issues related to their use. Having policies and practices in place allows a community to be ahead of the issues. Communicating with citizens about proper UAS use can reduce the number of calls and complaints in the community by encouraging safe practices, which reduces the workload for law enforcement.
Here is a link to an FAA webpage that will assist you in visualizing the ceilings for UAS/Drone flight within the local metro area. Zoom into the metro area and each rectangle is clickable and will show you how high you can fly.
The FAA’s amateur/hobbyist rules include notifying the airport if the drone operator intends to fly the drone within 5 miles of the airport.
UAS Pilots are responsible for notifying ALL airports that they may be near.
If you’re hoping to operate a drone from or fly a drone over The State of Texas, Williamson County, or Cities within Williamson County, here are links for their regulations: (this list is not all inclusive).
- Texas State Statute – Use of Unmanned Aircraft
- Texas State Drone Regulation List
- UAV Coach (Drone Laws in Texas as of 2019)
- City of Austin, TX
- City of Cedar Park, TX
Key tips to fly safely
- Drones as a general rule cannot be operated within a five-mile radius of any towered airport without agreement from the air traffic control tower.
- Fly your drone under 400 feet
- Do NOT fly over stadiums, airports, public buildings and large groups of people.
- Drones are not allowed to be flown over correctional and detention facilities.
- Never fly your drone near a manned aircraft.
- Always fly your drone within your direct line of sight.
- Don’t fly your drone over any vehicles.
- Drones are not allowed in Texas State Parks without a permit, except in the Lake Whitney and San Angelo parks where they have specified zones for flying drones.
- If you see a drone safety issue, call the FAA Flight Standards Office at:
The Federal Aviation Administration of the United States Department of Transportation has very strict rules and regulations on when and where to fly unmanned aerial systems (UAS), unmanned air vehicles (UAV), and drones. These regulations are governed nationwide and they get stricter down to the states and counties. This is why it is important to know the rules for your area, so you do not get slapped with any fine or even worse, serve some jail time. Also, while government regulations are indeed important, choosing a safe place to operate is equally important for the safety of others and your drone. With that said, here are four apps to help you know the rules for your area to help keep others safe and you out of trouble.
Although some drones can fly higher and further than others, like mentioned before, some states have different rules that are not so clear, unlike the obvious stay clear of airports and military bases. This means that even a small toy drone that can only fly up a number of feet in the air, can bring you some unwanted attention. How to avoid such a predicament? Here are five (5) apps to help you:
We do not espouse any one app over the other. This is for reference only.