Fireworks And Drones Do Not Mix Well
By and large, drones have transformed the way we view fireworks. Outfitted with high-definition video cameras, the remote-controlled aircraft can capture spectacular footage of Independence Day shows from the air, as demonstrated by dozens of YouTube videos.
Chances are, if you own a drone you have probably considered filming your local 4th of July fireworks from a birds eye view. Admittedly, fireworks from an aerial perspective would make a pretty cool video. Although this may be true, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reminds us that drones and fireworks do not mix well.
FAA Drone Regulations
Currently FAA regulations prevent drone pilots from flying above 400 feet, beyond line-of-sight, within 5 miles of an airport, and over crowds of people. Indeed, some drone pilots wonder if it’s allowed to fly at night time without a waiver. Actually the truth of the matter is, if you are flying for fun, it is. Contrarily, commercial pilots need a waiver when flying for their job, at night. Currently, there is no federal restriction against flying through or near fireworks, but I think everyone can agree that it could potentially end up going south.
“We would never want anyone flying into an actual fireworks display,” says Michael Oldenburg, a spokesman for DJI, one of the world’s largest drone manufacturers.
As you know, fireworks can be unpredictable. Because even the most carefully planned out shows can have a few mistakes in them. Obviously, this makes your flight a complete guessing game. A stray explosion or one small piece of shrapnel could send your drone spiraling down to earth. As a result, someone below could end up getting hurting … not to mention your wallet.
Localized Done Regulations
The FAA is the governing body over drone operations in the National Airspace (NAS). Additionally, states and local municipalities have the option to add their own regulations. For example, flying a drone over fireworks is prohibited in Tennessee. Similarly, drones have been banned at the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular since 2015. Likewise, local governments have been cracking down on drones at fireworks shows since the first round of viral videos in 2014.
While hobbyists face many restrictions, those who fly for business have more options. For instance, licensed commercial drone operators can apply for FAA waivers for night flight—as long as they can prove they have adequate safety provisions in place.
All things considered, if you have a fireworks display you’d like to film via drone, work with a commercial drone company. In addition, be sure they have all the proper training, insurance and waivers in place as well.
Fourth of July Drone Light Shows
This year, amid the dry climate and concerns over the spread of wildfires, cities in Colorado, Arizona, and California are skipping the traditional fireworks displays and replacing them with what they hope will be an equally dazzling drone light show.
If you are anywhere near Sacramento stop by the California State Fair. There, you’ll get the chance to see a Fourth of July drone light show. Specifically, coordinated drones create pictures and patterns across the sky using swarm technology and choreographed music. “Drone light shows are considered to be more environmentally safe and inclusive to families, pets and those who have sensitivities to loud explosions created by traditional fireworks,” state fair officials said.
Other California locations ditching fireworks for drones: Temecula
During the day, fly to your heart’s content, weather permitting. However, once the sun goes down, ground your drone. Most importantly, enjoy the fireworks, droneworks, and festivities with your friends and family.
Happy 4th of July from the Birds Eye Aerial Drones team!
Fly safe, play safe, stay safe.