Trying to head off potential problems, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a number of light-hearted, but pointed public service announcements during the 2015 Christmas season, including one that reminded drone owners that “Rudolph can fly anywhere, but your drone can’t.” Consumer goods experts say nearly three quarters of a million drones were sold in the last two months of the year, an uptick of almost 100% from last year.
According to FAA rules, if your drone weighs more the one half of a pound, it must have a label with an FAA registration number. Owners are then required to register the device with the FAA before using it or face potential civil and criminal penalties.
Authorities say that, though motorized hobbyist flying has been around for quite some time, the new wave of drones changes the game completely. Before, when you wanted to fly a motorized hobby plane, you had to assemble it first, and you had to know enough about how it worked to get it running. As a part of that process, owners typically ran a number of test flights and learned how to safely operate the gizmo. However, the drones now on the market are operational out of the box, so there’s no learning curve necessary at all.
Many attorneys expect to see a wave of personal and property injury claims stemming from the use of drones. In early December, a drone in a TGI Friday’s restaurant in New York crashed into a patron’s face, cutting her nose. The drone was apparently carrying mistletoe, encouraging couples to kiss. It is unknown whether the woman has filed legal action against the restaurant.
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