Drone Safety Tips and Flying Regulations Around Hanscom Field

Image (c) Flyingmag.com, 2016 all rights reserved. Flying Magazine counted drones as one of 2015's major aviation stories.
Flying Magazine counted drones as one of 2015’s major aviation stories.Image (c) www.flyingmag.com, 2015 all rights reserved.

Submitted on behalf of the Bedford Police Department

Public Safety-BPDAs residents return from the holidays, the Bedford, Concord, Lexington and Lincoln Police Departments advise community members to review safety tips and regulations outlined by the federal government before flying any newly received drones, especially near Hanscom Field.

“We understand a lot of residents may have received drones as gifts and they can be very exciting, but we want to make sure people use them responsibly,” Bedford Chief Robert Bongiorno said. “Please operate them safely and avoid using the devices in areas like the airport.”

The unmanned aerial vehicles are controlled through remote radio communications from an individual on the ground. They can be used to take pictures in the air, spot areas on buildings in need of repair, or recreationally. Users must follow aviation laws set in place by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Residents are not allowed to fly unauthorized drones within five miles of the Hanscom Field without first contacting the airport or control tower and receiving consent. The control tower has the power to deny the request at any time.

“Because our communities are within a five mile radius of the airport, residents should take extra caution when operating their drones,” Concord Chief Joseph O’Connor said. “When using the devices, remain in an area outside the no fly zone to ensure airport operations are not disrupted or compromised.”

Police recommend the community follow several safety guidelines outlined by the FAA:

When Flying a Drone:

  • Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible.
  • Avoid other aircrafts and obstacles at all times and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations.
  • Contact the airport or control tower before flying within five miles of an airport, and follow local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.
  • Do not fly in adverse weather conditions such as in high winds or reduced visibility.
  • Do not fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“Improper use of a drone can cause serious injury, violate the privacy rights of others, damage power lines or, when used near the airport, can cause a fatal collision with an aircraft,” Lexington Chief Mark Corr said. “Do not use a drone if you are impaired by alcohol or drugs.”

When Registering a Drone:

  • Unless the drone has already been registered in your name and you have the unique identification number, you must register your drone. This does NOT include toys weighing less than 250 grams/.55 pounds
  • If you owned your drone before Dec. 21, 2015, you have until Feb. 19, 2016 to register.  If your drone was purchased after Dec. 21, 2015, you will need to register your device before you operate it outdoors.
  • Federal law requires owners to be a U.S. citizen, at least 13 years old and pay a $5 registration fee before operating a drone.
  • Failure to register a drone could result in civil penalties including fines.

“Residents should also remember that they are not permitted to fly drones around the Minute Man National Historical Park, stadiums or large crowds,” Lincoln Chief Kevin Kennedy said. “If you’re using a drone as part of a hobby, please operate it in accordance with the regulations.”

For additional tips and information please visit the FAA’s website.

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