For some, it is a hobby they have taken up for fun. For others, it is a job that demands their attention whenever the moment presents itself. Whether it be photography or research, a fun activity to pass time or a means to an end, drones are now being used everywhere. However, a lot of people are asking, can drones fly at night and is this practice legal?
Is it possible?
Technically speaking, there are no issues with drones flying at night. The newer models that are now being released are equipped with the latest controls. You can be sitting in your bed playing on your tablet and still be able to fly it. Companies have now started improving their cameras to add night vision and infrared specifically to allow enthusiasts and professionals to fly them at nighttime. They can also be adjusted to accommodate various forms of lighting to facilitate flying after dark.
All in all, drones are totally capable of flying at night.
Is it legal?
To fly a drone at all, you need a license. This is commonly known as the remote pilot certificate that permits the use of a UAS under Part 107. Otherwise, you need to be in the presence of a licensed person who can oversee you flying it.
Getting the license will demand that you be 16 years or older and take either of the following two ways to obtain it:
- Clear an FAA-approved aeronautical knowledge test.
- Clear a flight test within 24 hours of receiving a Part 61 pilot certificate as well as an online UAS training program approved by the FAA.
Now here’s where it gets a little tricky. If you are living in the United States, even with the license, the law only permits hobbyists to fly 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. Still, all is not lost. The FAA can be requested to give a waiver to fly after dark uninhibited, which may take up to 2 months to receive.
After receiving the waiver, you must adhere to the rules and regulations laid out by the FAA when flying at night. Some of them include flying within the line of sight, using a drone no heavier than 55 lbs. and informing air traffic and airport services if you are within 5 miles of either.
Tips and tricks for night flying
To improve the quality of your flying experience, check out some of the suggestions below:
- One thing that cannot be stressed enough is to be aware of the area in which you are flying. If you are going to try a new place, fly in it during the day a couple of times to understand the type of landscape you will be dealing with.
- To avoid bumping into trees and other obstructions that might appear, fly high. Keep moving higher as you ascend from the ground until you reach a height at which you can clearly see everything all around.
- When using a camera equipped with LEDs, ensure that they are switched off if you are taking photographs or making videos to make sure they are clear.
- Just a friendly reminder to remove the ND filter from your drone before it takes flight.
While recording videos and snapping pictures at night, be careful not to disrupt the privacy of other people as you would be violating the FAA regulations and other rules that state spying is illegal. Do not forget that even though it is legal to fly drones with a license, it still comes with a social responsibility to respect others’ right to privacy. Stick to the rules provided above and all will be smooth sailing.
Now that we have covered the basics, let us fly! Here is a quick checklist to ensure you have all your gear ready for takeoff:
- See if you have your SD card and that it is intact.
- Check to see if your drone is fully charged.
- Make sure your controller is also charged enough.
- If your drone requires the use of a cell phone, ensure that it is charged as well.
- Make sure to calibrate your drone. This is very important, especially when chartering territory you might not be very familiar with, although it is recommended that you only fly once you are.
Fun stuff with drones
Let’s not forget that drones can be very fun to play with, especially if you have something interesting to do despite what time it is. Here are some of the coolest things they have done to inspire your next flight:
- Food Deliveries: Yes, they are now being used to deliver by Domino’s Pizza within 4 miles of the restaurant. They are also being used in Germany for other food deliveries. Let`s have dinner!
- Atmospheric Research: Scientists are planning to release drones that will travel to the ozone layer and collect important data on how it works.
- Chase Tornadoes: ‘The Tempest’ has been used to collect important information about tornadoes to better understand the phenomenon.
- Shooting Commercials: Although very common now, it is still very cool to watch. Drones are responsible for some of the most breathtaking footage ever shot of the world.
- Dropping Confetti: People have used this ridiculous but fun way to surprise their friends and family members on special occasions. Parties at night too…
- Save Lives: It has been done before. For example, the deliverance of small and lightweight medicine/favor was done by a drone after a call was made to the hospital. Rescue activities can hapen at night as well.
Wrapping it up
Flying at night can be a wonderful experience to have. It will show you beautiful sights you could not have observed otherwise and will open you up to be more creative. If you enjoy photography and shooting video, flying your drone at night will be a magical experience for you. Follow the tips in this article to have a safe and exciting experience.
If you’re still wondering, ‘can drones fly at night,’ you can now be assured that they can.
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