Mornings have become ritualistic in my little place — cereal, coffee and a healthy dose of my YouTube subscriptions sent via ChromeCast to the TV. It’s a comfortable mix of sports, explainer journalism (think Newsy or Vox) and late night talk show clips.

I flip casually through snippets of James Corden schmoozing with pop stars and science tidbits like “The Coolest Archaeological Finds of 2016” (that was in my feed this week via Seeker).

But the one thing that always gets a video added to my queue is seeing drone footage of devastated areas. Whether it’s natural disasters, or war-torn Aleppo (like the stunning footage above), I’m a sucker for the hovering images that peer into cracks and crevices.

And while the images are dramatic, and captivating, they’re not always legal. What?

Yes, newsrooms can now fly drones to gather video after they’ve received the proper licensing,

During a recent installment of the GateHouse Professional Development Series, attorneys Charles Tobin and Christine Walz from Holland & Knight LLP, explained where you can fly a drone, under new legal guidelines.

The answer is Class G airspace, and there a number of other provisions put in place.

Among them:

• The drone must be within visual line of sight of the operator

• It must stay under 400 feet

• It can only be flown during daytime hours

• At or under 100 mph of speed

And then, there’s the most difficult rule to adhere to:

• It can’t be flown over people

Tobin, a former reporter in Fort Myers, Florida, said that during a discussion with a member of the FAA’s drone center, many reporters had asked what for more specifics on what that meant.

Tobin recalled the FAA official’s response:

“A lot of people were trying to pin him down on and he said, ‘Over people means directly over people, you cannot fly over people. Can you fly diagonally to people? Yes, the rule doesn’t ban that. Can I do it to one degree? I can’t answer that other than to say you can’t fly directly over people.’ “

Tobin went on to note that if you fly right next to a person’s head, you might get cited for recklessly flying an aircraft. The best rule of thumb: Use your judgment on how close and how adjacent to people you are.

A few apps, including Hover, will quickly tell you if you’re in airspace that is acceptable for drone flying.


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