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It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a Drone: State Offers Help to Owners

Drones weighing more than a half a pound must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. (Peter Linehan/flickr)
Drones weighing more than a half a pound must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. (Peter Linehan/flickr)
January 8, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. — The word “drone" used to mean a long, monotonous sound. But now it spurs images of flying machines, often with a camera attached.

This 21st century technology is presenting a modern-day problem for everyone from airports to prisons. And this year, the state is hosting a series of workshops to ensure that drone owners understand the rules and safety measures they need to know to operate the devices responsibly.

Basil Yap, Unmanned Aircraft System Program manager with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, said while the devices are fun to operate, it's important to understand the risks they can present.

"A lot of people view these as, really, toys,” Yap said. "And drones, while there are many great benefits to them, can pose some significant safety concerns to manned aircraft - including helicopters and our airliners."

If your drone weighs more than a half-pound, federal law requires you to register it with the Federal Aviation Administration. In North Carolina, it's illegal to use a drone to hunt or fish, to operate as a weapon or to fly over prisons.

More information on the free educational workshops offered by NCDOT can be found at In 2017, more than 500 people attended information sessions.

Since drone cameras are becoming more sophisticated, Yap said it's also important to respect the privacy of others when flying them.

"Individuals have an expectation of privacy,” he said. “And so we want to be careful and use common sense when we're flying a drone around other people and respect both their safety and privacy."

The FAA also has rules about flying drones around airports and helipads. To act as a remote pilot for drones in accordance with FAA regulations, a person must obtain a remote pilot certificate. At least 1,000 drone licenses have been issued in North Carolina, which is more than any other southern state.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC