The FAA drone registration number must be marked on your drone. I recommend making a sticker for the top of your drone with the registration number and your contact information in case the drone gets lost. I might have gotten my first lost drone back if I had done that.
All drones weighing between ½ pound and 55 pounds, including the payload, must be registered. Go to faa.gov/Dronezone and follow the instructions. DO NOT get sucked into sites that charge fees to file the paperwork. Registering your drone is very easy.
Boats and drones provide some of the most amazing images. You can set the drone to follow your boat underway and circle to get a 360-degree view. You can send your drone ahead to find fish and other wildlife in the water.
Capturing nature is one of the most popular uses of a drone by hobbyists. When flying your drone over nature and animals in their natural habitat, it is important to be sensitive to the impacts on wildlife. Check out Six-Word Lessons for Drone Pilots and Outdoor Enthusiasts by Alicia Amerson for the best practices of flying over nature and wildlife.
Just imagine the pictures you could capture from above at your family reunion, a floating boat party, or a party on the beach. Once again, you can livestream to Facebook or YouTube to share the party. This allows you to include friends and family who don’t live in the area and can’t be part of the action.
Nursery pods, isolated mother and calf pairs, and isolated calves should also be left alone, as should animals that appear to be resting or avoiding aircraft and/or water vessels. A nursery pod is a large number of dolphins traveling together and strictly made up of only mother and calf pairs.
Nesting birds are known to use habitats adjacent to pinniped sites. Drones are known to cause nesting birds to flush, which is especially dangerous for birds that nest on cliffs where eggs can fall. Perform oblique surveying of marine mammals where cliff nesters are present. Flying overhead may cause a flushing event. Contact local seabird researchers to find out more about seasonal behavior of seabirds around pinniped sites.
Document all of your lessons learned and changes in protocols and share these lessons with other drone pilots. Join a Facebook group dedicated to pilots who fly responsibly. Make certain every drone flight ends with a log including your flight time, location, and wildlife encounters.
As in humans, cumulative impacts to animals lead to chronic stress and may eventually lead to sickness and death. There is a long line of people behind you thinking it’s only one selfie or one drone flight. Most likely you’ll never see the long line of people behind you impacting the wildlife.
You will be able to communicate to your clients how you’ve committed to greening your flights and reducing wildlife impacts. Imagine a client comparing you to another company when you have this as part of your value proposition!