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Drone Videographer – What you need to know to use your drone safely now

Got a drone for Christmas?  Wow, I bet you are excited!  I sure was happy when I bought my first drone back in 2012. I remember unwrapping it on Christmas Day and wanting to rush out the door to fly it. Way back then, drone flying was the wild west and the FAA rules were unclear. And if you’re planning to be a hobbyist drone videographer, there are a few things you need to know before you fly your new toy for the first time.

If you’re like me, you read the instructions, charged the battery, installed the app on your phone and zipped out to the park to fly it.  But wait.  Have you seen the videos of drones falling out of the sky onto ski slopes or worse, hitting people in the head? Yeah, it’s happened. Drones can be dangerous and the FAA knows that. In fact, a groom would -be-hobbyist drone videographer ruined his wedding when he lost control of his drone and it crashed into his guests while they danced at the reception. It gets worse. Some of the guests suffered cuts, broken bones and concussions and sued him for personal injury. Yikes! Hardly the wedding video experience he had in mind.
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Here are the most important things you need to know to become a safe and happy drone videographer.

  1. Learn the FAA drone rules that apply to all drone flying. Keep your drone under the 400 feet in altitude. Even the most basic drone can easily surpass this limit, so be careful and keep an eye on your altitude. Check the FAA website for all the rules and guidelines when flying.  DJI drones come preconfigured to keep the drone below the 400 feet mark.

  2. Watch the new safety video that FAA just created here.

  3. Register your drone with the FAA. You are required to do this before your first flight and this process can take up to a month before you get your required stickers from the FAA that must be placed on your drone.

  4. Choose an open and safe area for flight. Look for a field with no trees, people or obstructions. All drone pilots are legally responsible for any drone accident that causes bodily harm or property damage.

  5. Check your home owner’s insurance policy to make sure you are covered in the event of a drone crash. This New York Times article talks about homeowner insurance policies and drone coverage.

  6. Have fun flying your drone and capturing stunning aerial video and be safe!

Get some great footage?  I’d love to see it!  Email me at with a YouTube link.

As a certified drone pilot who has been flying drones several years, I have captured some amazing sites including ski slopes in New York state and a castle style wedding venue near Houston of course always 400 feet or below.

Coleman Jennings