The trick to drone operation is simply educating yourself on how to do it safely and legally. The Federal Aviation Association (FAA) considers drones “aircraft” and their operators “pilots.” Fines for offenses range from $500 to $5,000 per offense and can include jail time. Most importantly, don’t drink and drone.
Five Steps to Drone Ownership
- Ensure the drone you purchase fits size and weight parameters, such as weighing less than 55 lbs.
- Register your drone with the FAA. Commercial and recreational drones have different registrations.
- Insure your drone! You might need specific coverage.
- Check local laws, particularly suburbs, since they may not be the same as Federal or Chicago laws.
- Stay informed. Remember laws can and will change as the definition of privacy transforms with growing drone popularity.
The Chicago Fly Zone
- Fly within 400 feet of ground level or within 400 feet of a structure in Chicago skies.
- Stay away from equipment that transmits anything, from sound to signal to power.
- You need permission to fly over other people, property you do not own, and public places like schools, hospitals, prisons and places of worship.
- Do not fly within five miles of O’Hare or Midway airports.
- Flying over “open air assembly units” requires permission, which is a fancy way of encompassing places that attract large crowds of people, such as stadiums, athletic fields, amusement parks or even parade routes.
- There are minimum distances from water intake and electrical facilities, ranging from 25 to 500 feet.