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FAA Now Requires Drone Registration For Hobbyists

OKC Drones monthly meetup at Wake Zone Cable Park in Southeast Oklahoma City.
Patrick Smith

If a drone winds up underneath your Christmas tree this holiday season, keep in mind that the Federal Aviation Administration now requires registration. All unmanned aerial systems that weight between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds must be registered with the FAA.

Nick Brown, the CEO of Oklahoma City-based DroneBois, said the registration requirement keeps hobbyists accountable in case of accident or trouble-making.

“If somebody does do something dumb, you can go in and find the registration number on the craft and be able to tie it back to the operator that was flying,” Brown said.

Registration opened on Monday and will be free for thirty days. Afterwards, it will cost five dollars.

Brown said it is difficult to separate hobbyist uses and commercial users.

“You can buy a $10,000 drone and be considered a hobbyist if you’re just using it to take air photography for personal use, or documenting your son’s football game,” Brown said. “Really, that classification is very wide open.”

Other FAA rules include keeping UAV’s under 400 feet of altitude, and never flying within 5 miles of an airport.

The Consumer Technology Association estimates that 400,000 drones will be sold over the holiday season.

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Jacob McCleland spent nine years as a reporter and host at public radio station KRCU in Cape Girardeau, Mo. His stories have appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Here & Now, Harvest Public Media and PRI’s The World. Jacob has reported on floods, disappearing languages, crop duster pilots, anvil shooters, Manuel Noriega, mule jumps and more.
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