The do's and don'ts of flying unmanned aircraft - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

The do's and don'ts of flying unmanned aircraft

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KENNEWICK, WA - A day after reports of an unauthorized drone flying near the Hanford Site, we looked into some of the do's and don'ts when it comes to flying unmanned aircraft.

After investigation, those reports at Hanford were proven to be unfounded, but no-fly zones, height restrictions, and interactions with other aircraft all come into play when controlling a drone, with increased concerns as summer approaches.

Reporter Rex Carlin learned that it's not quite as easy as just putting a drone together and getting it into the air.

Outside the five-mile radius from an airport, out of the way of registered flight patterns, must weigh less than half a pound if not registered with the FAA.

These are all regulations amateur drone pilots might not be aware of when putting their toys in the sky.

A punishment for somebody with a license means possibly getting the license revoked, among other possibilities. But Darryl Abling says people who don't know the laws probably don't have unmanned aircraft licenses in the first place.

"Somebody flying a drone illegally probably has not gone through the hoops to get a remote pilot's license," Abling said, "so in that case, they'd probably be subject to a fine from the FAA."

As we head into these summer months, Abling says safety is a two-way street, and even a small drone hitting a low-flying plane could be catastrophic. So doing your homework is crucial before your drone or plane takeoff. Abling cites skyvector.com as being an informational tool for both plane and drone pilots.

Usually, a recreational drone wouldn't have any problems being in the way of a plane, but it's summertime in eastern Washington, and that means crop dusters are out in force.

"Crop dusting season, those guys are eight feet off the ground, and could easily strike a drone, so a lot of responsibility on both sides," said Abling.

Safety in the skies, whether you're in the air or on the ground.

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