Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones)


When you fly your drone anywhere in the nation's airspace, you automatically become part of the U.S. aviation system. Under the law, your drone is an aircraft, and you have the responsibility to operate safely, just as a Cessna or 747 pilot does. Drones are of particular concern around airports, and if flown improperly, can endanger aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates the use of unmanned aircraft systems. The information below was gathered from FAA, and it is subject to change. For the latest rules, regulations, and news about UAS, please visit www.faa.gov/uas/

General Information

   1.  What is an unmanned aircraft system (UAS)?

An unmanned aircraft system is an unmanned aircraft and the equipment necessary for the safe and efficient operation of that aircraft. An unmanned aircraft is a component of a UAS. It is defined by statute as an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft (Public        Law 112-95, Section 331(8)).

   2.   Is a UAS the same as a model aircraft?

Congress defined a "model aircraft" as a UAS that meets all of the following:

  • Is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere
  • Is flown within visual line-of-sight of the person operating it
  • Is flown for hobby or recreational purposes

   3.   Who do I contact if my question isn't answered on the UAS website?

We encourage you first to read all of the information on the website and browse our Frequently Asked Questions. If you still have questions or concerns, you may contact the FAA's UAS Integration Office via uashelp@faa.gov or by calling 844-FLY-MY-UA. 

   4.   Is the Small UAS Rule effective?

Yes. The Small UAS Rule came into effect on August 29, 2016. 

10 Things to Know Before You Fly

Whether you're a novice drone pilot or have many years of aviation experience, rules and safety tips exist to help you fly safely in the national airspace. Think of these tips as a pre-flight checklist to help you fly safely:

  1. Register your drone
  2. Fly your drone at or below 400 feet
  3. Keep your drone within your line of sight
  4. Be aware of FAA Airspace Restrictions
  5. Respect privacy
  6. Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports
  7. Never fly over groups of people, public events, or stadiums full of people
  8. Never fly near emergencies such as fires or hurricane recovery efforts
  9. Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  10. Always notify airport operators and Air Traffic Control for flights near airports
    • If you plan to fly within 5 miles of The Ohio State University Airport, you MUST contact the airport and air traffic control tower. 
      • The Ohio State University Airport – (614) 292-5460
      • KOSU Air Traffic Control Tower – (614) 292-9834


Fly under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Section 336) Fly under FAA's Small UAS Rule (Part 107)

-Fly for hobby or recreation ONLY

-Register your model aircraft, UAS, drone with FAA

-Follow community-based safety guidelines and fly within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization

-Fly a model aircraft under 55 lbs. unless certified by a community-based organization
-Fly within visual line-of-sight
-Never fly near other aircraft
-Notify the airport and air traffic control tower before flying within 5 miles of an airport
-Never fly near emergency response effort

-Fly for recreational OR commercial use
-Register your drone
-Get a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA
-Fly a drone under 55 lbs.
-Fly within visual-line-of-sight*
-Don't fly near other aircraft or over people*
-Don't fly in controlled airspace near airports without FAA permission*
-Fly only during daylight or civil twilight, at or below 400 feet*


* These rules are subject to waiver.


For more information, please visit: Fly under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft For more information, please visit: Fly under the Small UAS Rule


  1. Document the time/location of the event;
  2. Take pictures and/or capture video recordings of the activity, if possible;
  3. Attempt to determine the type of activity;
  4. Attempt to determine the location of the operator of the model aircraft;
  5. If possible, obtain UAS FAA registration number located on the model aircraft.
  6. Report sighting to 1-866-TELL-FAA (866-835-5322) and select option 4, or FAA website https://www.faa.gov/contact/safety_hotline/; and
  7. Contact and provide information to Local Law Enforcement.

Please contact The Ohio State University Airport (614) 292-5453 if the reported sighting is within 5 miles of the airports.


For more information about Unmanned Aircraft Systems:

UAS Help:



Contact the Columbus Flight Standards District Office (FSDO):


Smartphone App Available for Drone Operators

The FAA has released a smartphone app that can help users understand restrictions around flying their devices. B4UFLY tells users about current or upcoming requirements and restrictions in areas of the National Airspace System (NAS).


Download the app at: http://www.faa.gov/uas/b4ufly/