Know Before You Fly

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has partnered with the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and the Academy of Model Aeronautics to launch the "Know Before You Fly" educational campaign. This campaign is designed to inform recreational and commercial users of safe and responsible use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), otherwise oftentimes referred to drones.

Drone Registration

The Federal Aviation Administration requires all owners of model aircraft, small unmanned aircraft or drones, or other RC aircraft weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds to register online before taking to the skies. The registration fee is 5 and is valid for three years.

The online registration system will require drone owners 13 years and older to submit their name, email and home address to receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership. This will include a unique identification number owners must affix to any drone they own and operate exclusively for recreation.

Special Rule for Model Aircraft

Model aircraft operators that comply with all of these operational requirements during flight do not have to register their UAS with the FAA.  Model aircraft operators must follow these rules to fly under this Rule:

  • The aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use
  • The aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization
  • The aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization
  • The aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft
  • When flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower when an air traffic facility is located at the airport
  • A model aircraft is defined as an unmanned aircraft that is (1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere, (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft, (3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes

Safety Guidelines for Recreational Users

  • Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible.
  • Keep your UAS in eyesight at all times, and use an observer to assist if needed.
  • Remain clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations.
  • Do not intentionally fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.
  • Do not fly in adverse weather conditions such as in high winds or reduced visibility.
  • Do not fly near or over sensitive infrastructure or property such as power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, and government facilities.
  • Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.
  • Do not conduct surveillance or photograph persons in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission.

Stay informed

Additional information regarding drone operation, best practices, safety regulations, and registration is provided on the Know Before You Fly website

For questions or concerns about drone use, please contact Laguna Niguel Police Services at (949) 362-4306.