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Drones no longer ‘just toys’ | BlueRidgeNow.com

Drones no longer ‘just toys

Published: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 4:30 a.m.

Drones are flying off the shelves and landing under the Christmas tree this year, but they’re not just toys anymore.

They’re glorified toys, said Pam Lewis, co-owner of the Hobby House in Hendersonville.

At the Hobby House, drones have been in high demand this holiday season. They can be found at almost any store, Lewis said. The Consumer Technology Association predicts that 400,000 Americans will buy drones.

With drones increasing in popularity and beginning to crowd the air, the Federal Aviation Administration has passed new regulations to enhance safety.

On Monday the FAA announced that, starting Dec. 21, all operators of small drones weighing between.55 pounds and 55 pounds must register their names and addresses with the government. Once registered, a pilot can display his or her registration number on their drone. Anyone 13 and older can register themselves as an operator for a fee of $5.

Public opinion varies about the new regulations.

There are idiots out there… and with so many things there are people who don’t think responsibly or use common sense, Lewis said.

She believes those who have bought drones from the Hobby House have no malicious intent.

The ones we sell are for fun, she said. But there are people who don’t use their heads.

Drones sold at the Hobby House weigh less than.55 pounds and don’t require registration.

Between December 2013 and September 2015, a report by Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone found that 327 incidents were reported posing a proximity danger where a drone got within 500 feet of a plane, helicopter or other manned aircraft or when a pilot determined a drone was dangerously close.

The FAA wants to make sure people are flying drones within their line of sight and below 400 feet to avoid encountering planes, helicopters or crowded places.

Owning a drone comes with accountability, said James Suttles, a producer, director and cinematographer in Brevard who uses drones for his projects.

I think registration is great, he said. Drones are becoming more common, and more accountability for them is a good thing.

There is a weight label on drones and those under.55 pounds are still toys and don’t have to be registered, Suttles added.

Aerial cinematographer Mike Gentilini Jr., who works at VidMuze Aerial Cinema, agrees.

A drone can be dangerous if it’s not used professionally, he said. In this day and age people think it’s like a video game The FAA should have registration to keep tabs on people.

For many supporters it comes down to safety being the biggest issue, as drones can cause serious harm to individuals. However, there are hobbyists who don’t agree with the new FAA regulations.

Model airplane enthusiast Alan Bly, who also owns a small drone, thinks the new mandate is ridiculous and won’t be effective.

I understand the fear, but they’ve overreacted, he said. The people who are causing harm won’t register.

For many, though, the regulations are necessary if the drone meets the weight requirements.

It’s a good thing, Suttles said. It’s nothing to be afraid of.

Registration will cost $5 per operator, and for an operator who registers within the first 30 days, the FAA will waive the fee.

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