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Federal Aviation Administration logoAll unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operators are compelled to abide by all regulations set forth by government and regulatory agencies including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  Primarily for safety reasons, there are numerous operating considerations - considerations which may impact the commercial use of these specialized aircraft – also known as “drones”.

Flying a drone is much like flying an airplane or helicopter – mechanically and legally.  All the same aeronautical considerations for flight and administrative rules and restrictions and laws about operation are very real.  Flying a drone for any commercial purpose requires licensure by the FAA as a remote pilot. The actual regulation that covers commercial drone pilots is known as 14 CFR Part 107 which became effective on August 29, 2016.

Administrative Issues

To help ensure proper, safe, legal and timely service, a certain amount of paperwork and administrative procedure is necessary.  Clients, property owners, real estate agents, and other “interested parties” will have written notices and agreements to complete.  Mutually agreeable schedules must be arrived at.  The Federal Aviation Administration and local Air Traffic Controllers play a huge role in deciding when and where (if at all) drone flight may be authorized. The days of just anybody grabbing a drone, running it up and the air and snapping a few photos and a quick video are coming to an end.  The enforcement and penalties for violating federal laws are increasingly taking control.  Only licensed pilots https://amsrvs.registry.faa.gov/airmeninquiry/  may operate a drone for commercial purposes and they must have specific permission to do so on a case-by-case basis if the location is within a 5 mile radius of any airport (and there are a surprising number of small airports everywhere).

Drones and their control devices are high technology – and as such are subject to operating glitches.  They can be adversely affected by a variety of interfering radio waves and magnetic fields, metal equipment and structures in the vicinity can stop a drone in its tracks.  Software problems can cause delays.

Environmental Considerations

Generally speaking, drone flight will be limited by a number of atmospheric and weather conditions:

  • Wind speed must be less than about 20 mph with less than 30 mph gusts.

  • Temperature operating range is limited to between 32F and 100F.

  • Any kind of moisture, to include spray, drizzle, mist, rain or even extremely high humidity will significantly impair or preclude flight.

  • Drones may not be flown at night without obtaining special permission from the FAA approximately 90 days in advance.

General Safety Precautions

Drone pilots must have specific permission from nearby airport flight control when flying within a 5 mile radius of their controlled airspace. (There are few locations where this does not apply – it is amazing how many small airports exist.)

  • Must stay clear of any emergency response effort.

  • Cannot fly over / near people.

  • Cannot fly above 400 feet.

  • Must remain in visual contact – line of sight.

  • Cannot operate from a moving vehicle.

  • Must avoid all obstacles including people, buildings, vehicles, power lines and other utility cables, trees, shrubs, towers, etc.

  • Must be cautious when operating in areas with high levels of electromagnetism, including base stations and radio transmission towers.

Photographic / Aesthetic Considerations

Naturally, we all want the best looking pictures and video possible.  That is hard to do on a dark, cloudy day.  The direction of the sunlight may have an adverse effect.  What about incidental activity that may adversely affect the results?  Maybe roof repairs or replacement is going on.  Or the landscaping crew decides to show up at the same time.  Or any number of other things that may adversely affect the outcome of a photo session.

Patience Please

For any or all of these reasons, scheduling of a “shoot” with drone photography can be challenging.  Delays happen. If we have an appointment, we will do everything in our power to be on time and to work efficiently – that is also in our best interest. So, please be patient.


John is a professional photographer operating as Hale Photo ServicesSM LLC (HPS) with a subsidiary for aerial photography called UAV.photosSM – utilizing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or more commonly referred to as “drones”.  John is licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a Remote Pilot (Cert# 4114363). HPS is licensed and insured.

John P. Hale is also a licensed real estate agent in Maryland and Pennsylvania. He is an active member of Carroll County REALTORS ® in Westminster, Maryland.  John has been licensed since 2000 and also practiced in Tucson, Arizona for many years.  Mr. Hale holds the following designations and certifications awarded by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and other authorized institutions:  ABR-Accredited Buyers Representative, AHWD-At Home With Diversity, CNE-Certified Negotiation Expert, CRMS-Certified Risk Management Specialist, CRS-Certified Residential Specialist, CTA-Certified Tourism Ambassador, e-PRO-Online Real Estate Practice, GRI-Graduate of Realtor Institute, MRE-Master of Real Estate, MREP-Mortgage Real Estate Professional, MRP-Military Relocation Professional, and Workforce Housing Certification. 


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