VERIFY: Can a drone fly over my backyard?

Verify: Can a drone fly over my backyard?

Our VERIFY team gets the answers to your questions. A viewer emailed us to ask: can a drone fly over my backyard?

It's a question a lot of people have, especially as drones get more popular.

We looked up the Federal Aviation Administration rules, called Mark Sutton from RM6 Aviation -- they train drone pilots, and talked to our own drone pilot, Sebastian Robertson.

You need to know there are two sets of rules -- one for people flying for fun and one for commercial drones like the one we use at WFAA.

"As a hobbyist, you can fly it pretty much anywhere you have permission to fly," Sutton said.

For the FAA that means:

  • At or below 400 feet
  • Away from airports and no-fly zones
  • You can't fly over stadiums, sporting events, or groups of people
  • No flying over emergency response efforts

Other than that, you're good to go.

"It's not illegal for them to fly over your house or in your neighborhood," Sutton explained. "If they're landing on your property that's a different story."

Sebastian told us the same thing. He went through extensive training to be licensed to fly our station drone. The same rules apply to him -- in fact, they're even more strict for commercial pilots.

Now, when it comes to privacy -- legally the owner of the drone can't share or display any photos or video of your private property without your consent.

Sutton knows people worry about this, but he had this to say, "it's not really any different than if someone just had their iPhone out. You're not going to do any in-depth surveillance other than if you're up in the air you'd be able to see inside the fence."

You're totally within your rights to complain about drones to your homeowner's association or the police, but they might not be able to do much about it.

Keep in mind -- you can't shoot down a drone.

So, we can VERIFY -- yes -- drones are allowed to fly over your backyard.

 
SOURCES:
Federal Aviation Administration
Mark Sutton, RM6 Aviation
Sebastian Robertson, WFAA Drone Pilot

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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