With a rise in popularity, drones have been highly wanted for fun and personal use. Mainly used by photographers, but also are used purely as a hobby to explore how the world looks from a different perspective. Whichever the reason is for you, it’s important to know the legalities of owning a drone, like how high can drones fly legally, and understanding the capabilities yours has, such as it’s altitude specifications.
How High You Should Fly A Drone
Well, there’s actually two different answers for this. While drones may be legal to fly, there are limitations to how high you’re allowed to fly it. Many countries have different regulations, so be sure to check your state and local laws before flying. Drones in the United States are legally allowed to fly as high as 400 feet, while in the European Union, that limit is extended to 500 feet.
Standard regulations mention that your drone must remain clear of any surrounding obstacles; trees and buildings fall into this category. You also must be able to keep an eye on it at all times. Some drones are equipped with an autopilot function which is awesome if you’re looking for easy control, but it must be within your visual range. Keep in mind, the video feed on the remote doesn’t count as having visual contact.
The laws to keep under a certain height distance is to prevent any interaction with aircrafts, but you must also be aware to steer clear of any airports and FAA-controlled airspace. A 5-mile radius around airports is to be avoided when flying. You are also not able to fly near people or stadiums. As always, be careful and mindful when controlling your drone.
You are probably wondering what FAA-controlled airspace even is and where it is. This is the airspace in which manned aircrafts operate. There are different classes that is controlled by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and these are decided based on varying factors. As mentioned earlier, a 5-mile radius around airports falls into FAA-controlled airspace, but also the beginning of seal level is controlled. Unless you have approval from the FAA to fly in these areas, it is absolutely prohibited.
Keep your drone safe and remember that the higher you fly your drone, the colder the air becomes. You never want to fly in freezing temperatures (0 Celsius and below). Battery life can become severely limited. If you choose to fly in cold temperatures, it’s important to warm up your drone. Do this by hovering it for about a full minute before actually flying off. This will allow it to adjust to the temperature in the air.
Drone Altitude Limits by Manufacturers
When talking about only physical limits, even the highest flying drones can reach about 5000 meters. Once this altitude is exceeded, there is a reduced air density that actually conflicts with your drones’ propellers. It results in not being able to produce enough of a lift to keep it in the air.
Manufacturers always set limits for maximum altitudes that can be reached. It’s important to never exceed these limits to prevent damage to your drone. A popular model is DJI Spark; its altitude capability is up to 120 meters, which is impressive for a drone of its size. Another model is the Parrot Bebop 2 which is able to fly up to 150 meters. There is also the DJI Phantom 3 which is able to reach much higher altitudes up to 6000 meters.
Some models are able to fly much higher than others, but take note that there is often restrictions on altitude distance that is set in place by the drones’ software. Testing the limits of your drone can be a lot of fun, especially with the new technology that is able to allow them to go higher and farther. However, always fly with caution. Be aware of your battery life before flying, your surroundings, how high you are flying, and to always keep your drone within clear sight.