What to know before flying a drone in WNY

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) –  The drone industry is growing especially in New York State. These devices are being used for photography, in the real estate business, even in emergency response situations. But if you want to get involved, it turns out, the sky is not the limit.

Drone Pilot Glenn Mclaughlin captures video from his DJI Phantom 3. He’ is also helping Buffalo First Responders’ along the way.  Mclaughlin said, “The third day of the Lackawanna fire, they asked me to assist them with something they had a little bit of a hard time seeing.”

It’s just one way he’s turned a passion into a part-time business. He’s excited about the industry growth, but he wants to see smart growth. He said, “From a pilots’ perspective, I want to see people who want to get into this, do it the right way.”

So what is the right way? Industry experts say following the rules to operate legally, and stay safe.

That means you must operate below 400 feet, fly your drone during daylight, not fly over crowds of people, operate the drone under 100 miles per hour, and stay within a visual line of sight with your drone.  Those are just some of the rules and regulations in place.

Attorney Jim Muldoon knows the ins and outs of the Federal Aviation Administration. He’s leader of the unmanned aircraft industry team for law firm, Harris Beach.

As the commercial use of drones is predicted to skyrocket, he’s tasked with knowing what’s legal and what’s happening next. He said, “As drones become more common and things like they’re use in package delivery and logistics, you’re going to expect to see a lot more drones in operating in general uncontrolled airspace.”

Muldoon says the drone industry will have an $82 billion dollar impact on the economy in the next four years, with millions of drone flights every day.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this month, a $30 million dollar airstrip for testing unmanned aircraft systems will be built in Central New York.

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