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How to take a drone to the skies safely

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Posted at 5:52 PM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 21:08:07-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Taking to the skies using a drone isn’t as easy as it may look and with drones becoming more and more popular one local expert says knowing the rules is more important than ever.

RELATED: FBI seeks information on illegal drone activity in Tucson

“Everybody wants to have the fun in the air, but we don't want to ruin that by people abuse that privilege. And so just like driving a car, there are responsibilities,” said Mary Darling, CEO of Darling Geomatics.

Mary Darling is licensed through the FAA, has been flying drones for her business and for fun for six years.

“We're a land surveying company, and we use drones and added as an additional tool in our toolbox," she said.

CLICK HERE: FAA drone rules

She explained some of the recreational rules, which include the following:

  • Registering your drone
  • Getting a waiver if it’s over 55 pounds
  • Keeping it in sight at all times
  • And keeping the drone under 400 feet off the ground

Commercial/Certified operator rules here

Darling encourages operators to download apps that show open and off-limits airspace.

“It shows you that we are white, right here, the black dot, and the date is the month and the airport is adjacent to us. It also shows you the yellow or Tucson International Airport is. Those are air spaces that are protected, and you cannot fly within those without notifying and getting permission from the aircraft tower,” she said.

She said it’s important to know that drone operators never have the right of the way, especially during wildfires.

"Actually, the drone hits an aircraft. It can crash that aircraft and kill people. It's that simple," she explained.

Darling said the biggest misconception about flying, is that drones are safe to have around people.

CLICK HERE: How to become a drone pilot

“One of the first rules you learn is that everybody in your audience stays behind the pilot. And, you know where your blades are these blades when they're going fast, they can slice through a person very very easily,” she said.