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NCDOT reminds new drone pilots to fly safe this holiday season

A message from the NCDOT:

RALEIGH – Drones make great holiday gifts, but new and inexperienced pilots should follow some simple safety tips to protect yourself and others.

More than 30,000 North Carolinians now own and operate drones for personal and recreational use. As this number grows, the N.C. Department of Transportation is reminding drone pilots to follow basic safety precautions, because drones can be dangerous to others if they are not operated properly.

“Drones are an amazing new technology, and are becoming an increasingly popular holiday gift,” said Ben Spain, head of NCDOT’s drone office. “We need to make sure people don’t treat these as just a toy, and know how to operate them in a safe manner.”

NCDOT’s Division of Aviation has provided the following eight tips to help pilots make sure they’re flying safely and legally:

• Always fly below 400 feet above ground level,

• Never fly near airports,

• Avoid flying over events or crowds,

• Don’t fly at night, even if your drone has lights,

• Never fly directly over people,

• Don’t fly near or above prisons,

• Respect people’s privacy, and

• Always keep the drone within your visual line of sight.

By following these guidelines, drone pilots can be more confident that their flights are safe and legal. Before flying, pilots should also take the time to learn about the local, state, and federal laws governing drones.

North Carolinians interested in flying a drone for commercial or government operations must obtain a permit from the N.C. Division of Aviation. Before applying, prospective users must pass NCDOT’s UAS Knowledge Test.