NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Recreational drones are a hot ticket item this holiday season, but there are things you need to know to operate the unmanned aircraft without getting into legal trouble.
The high-flying, remote-controlled toys offer more options and are becoming more popular gift items.
“It looks like you’re playing a game, but there is an actual object really flying around,” drone buyer Felipe Abreu told CBS2’s Elise Finch.
Models with cameras start at around $150, but increase quickly.
The reasonable prices and technological improvements are expected to result in $450 million in global recreational drone sales this year.
“The idea of operating something with a remote control and then being that it’s an actual aircraft, there’s something to be said about that,” drone buyer Matthew Cartelli said.
Experts say drones make the perfect gift as long as you’re careful about how and where you use it.
“If you’re in the middle of the city, you want to have something small and easy to control, something that’s not going to hurt anybody,” Bill Dickey, of Pilotage Fun & Hobby, said. “We always tell people they should stay under 400-feet, that’s FAA regulations.”
The Federal Aviation Administration puts recreational drones in the same category as model aircraft.
In addition to requiring that they fly below 400 feet, the FAA also suggests that drones be operated within sight of the operator, away from populated areas and away from all manned aircraft.
Aviation attorney Justin Green said that if your drone interferes with planes or helicopters, it can constitute a crime.
“Anything from a negligent misdemeanor charge to a felony charge for basically putting people at risk with your recklessness,” Green said
Operating your drone over someone else’s property to trespassing charges and using the camera to spy on people could result in a Peeping Tom.
While drones make great gifts they also require sound operating.
Experts said if you plan to buy someone a drone as a present you might also want to add a membership to a local model aircraft club. That way the drone user can learn what they should and should not do.
One salesperson told CBS2 that drones are not appropriate gifts for children under 7.
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