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8 tips for flying a drone in cold weather



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The following is a guest post by Jake Carter, a drone Enthusiast and writer at RC Hobby Review. Follow him on Facebook at RCHOBBYREVIEW.

Drones whiz and whip through the air at breakneck speeds. Unfortunately, these cool machines weren’t designed for cold weather. It’s not the friendliest condition for them, but with some preparation beforehand, you can capture the beauty of rolling winter landscapes from a bird’s-eye perspective.

Before flying, read your drone’s user manual. Most quadcopters are designed to fly in a temperature range of 32 degrees Fahrenheit to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Flying outside that range may put your drone at risk. But if your drone can handle the cold conditions, then read on — then get flying!

1. Beware of ice

The arch-nemesis of all helicopters and planes, ice endangers drones too. Ice accumulating on the propeller blades, alters the weight distribution, hurting the drone’s ultimate aerodynamics. Cold air over warm water causes evaporation, and this evaporative fog will refreeze on surrounding surfaces, including on the drone’s surface.

2. Know how cold affects battery life and sensors

Colder temperatures shorten the flight time of your drone by slowing the chemical reaction with the LiPo batteries and lowering the battery capacity. A fully charged drone that typically will last between 20 to 25 minutes in flight, could fly for just 10-15 minutes in colder weather. Extreme cold weather can cause an unexpected power drop, and while it’s rare, there have been cases where batteries fail completely.

Cold weather dulls the drone’s sensors which can cause the drone to drift or have less response from the control input. In addition, cold fingers or gloves make controlling the input more difficult.

3. Practice good battery health

When flying in cold weather, understanding how to make your battery go further can be to your advantage.

Keep your batteries warm. Hover after the takeoff. Maintain a full charge on your batteries. Go light on the throttle. Bring a portable charger for the mobile device.

After takeoff, hover between 10 to 12 feet for 30 to 60 seconds to bring up the battery temperature, giving the motors and batteries a chance to warm up. The ideal battery temperature for a drone is about 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Most drones provide you with a method to check the temperature of your batteries.

Related read: How to care for your LiPo batteries

Be aware of how heavy control inputs will tax the battery life of your drone. Full throttle demands a heavy battery current, which can cause a drop in voltage. In general, don’t tap the full throttle button until the first few minutes of flight have passed. In addition, lower the heavy control inputs because this extends your flight time. Finally, never drain the battery. Normal weather conditions mean you try to maximize your flight time. When it’s biting cold, however, this practice risks your drone. You will want to fly it until the battery has dropped 30 or 40 percent. After that, you will want to bring the drone back to earth. If you want more air time, pack a couple spare batteries.

4. Watch out for precipitation

Most drones cannot withstand precipitation, and the moisture can damage or short out the motor, gimbal, or camera. If rain or snow occurs while your drone is in flight, land as quickly as possible, then dry the propellers and the body.

5. It’s not just cold — it’s climate too

It’s not just about cold — but climate too. Flying in Vermont where the winters are cold but “dry” means you don’t have to worry as much as if you were in a cold and wet climate with more humidity, like Minnesota. If that’s the case, check for icing regularly and try not to fly through winter fog.

Moisture within the gimbal becomes problematic when you add ice and snow and melting. As the props start to spin and blow slush and snow, launch the drone from a sheet of plastic or from the carrying case.

Also, condensation can arise when you take your drone from the outside to the inside. To alleviate that problem, let it warm up slowly in the basement or in the trunk of the car.

6. Use hand warmers on your drone

To keep the drone’s batteries warm, consider putting hand warmers on them. NEVER put them directly against the battery as it lets off heat. Instead, wrap the batteries in a scarf or a glove and put the hand warmers around the batteries.

7. Understand altitude

In areas of increased altitude, propellers have to spin faster to keep flight, which means the battery will drain itself faster — also contributing to shorter flights.

8. Don’t forget about you!

While it’s important to keep the drone safe from the cold, don’t forget yourself too!

Buy specialized gloves for flying in the winter to keep your movements with the controls limber. Spyder gloves are consistently ranked among the best gloves designed with conductive material for handheld touch screen devices.

-By Jake Carter

Read more from Jake at RC Hobby Review or follow him on Facebook at @RCHOBBYREVIEW

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8 tips for flying a drone in cold weather was originally posted at by Guest Post

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15 Drone Fines From Around The World



This post was originally published on this site

The number of drone fines issued by aviation authorities is increasing. Read about the most significant cases of prosecutions involving unlawful drone operations.

I see an emerging trend: more and more authorities are starting to prosecute unlawful drone operations.

Let’s check 15 significant cases of drone operators’ prosecution, giving a little insight into what it means to be non-compliant with local drone regulations.

Significant Legal Drone Cases by Country

Drone fines by country:


The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is presently in charge of drone regulation at the federal level in the U.S. (even if things might change considerably under Trump’s administration) but states and local government entities also have the authority to pass local laws in their jurisdiction.

According to Motherboard, the FAA had fined 24 drone pilots up to June 2016.

“Given that more than a million drones have been sold in the U.S., the fact that only two dozen fines have been levied is surprising and likely reflects the FAA’s lack of resources, rather than a lack of desire.”

said Craig Thompson, a Dallas-based aerial photographer, when asked about this data by drone regulation expert Jonathan Rupprecht who agreed and added:

“As time goes on, we can expect to see many more of these enforcement actions to be more fully prosecuted.”

It’s interesting to note that even where enforcement efforts have been put in place, FAA’s focus up to 2016 has been on punishing reckless behaviours, rather than illegal commercial operations, as the 2016 Motherboard analysis of the 24 prosecutions found out.

Lawyer Loretta Alkalay, who was in charge of the FAA’s legal operations for the eastern region for more than 20 years, has her opinion on why the FAA didn’t prosecute illegal commercial drone operations much until 2016:

“I think it’s pretty obvious the FAA doesn’t think it can win a case on this whole commercial issue, which is why they haven’t really pushed it.”

Let’s check a few significant drone fines in the U.S.

SkyPan – $200,000

This is the largest of all drone fines ever issued by the FAA to date. The initially proposed fine in October 2015 to SkyPan International, Inc., of Chicago, amounted to an impressive $1.9 million for conducting 43 illegal drone flights in congested airspace over Chicago and New York City between 2012 and 2014.

SkyPan was further accused of operating 65 aircraft without proper communication tools and without receiving an airworthiness certificate and registration.

The company eventually settled with the FAA in January 2017 for $200,000.

SkyPan and FAA settle largest-ever fine proposed for a #UAS operator.

— UAS Magazine (@UASMagazine) March 15, 2017

Besides the $200,000 civil penalty the company also agreed to pay an additional $150,000 if it violates federal aviation regulations again in the next year, and $150,000 more if it fails to comply with the terms of the settlement agreement.

Mical Caterina – $55,000

What drone pilot Caterina considered a hobby has landed him in trouble with the FAA, which in 2016 levied $55,000 in fines against him for violating five aviation regulations.

The FAA claims Caterina flew his drone for commercial use at an event in August 2015, though the Minnesota man has never charged anyone for his aerial photography and contends he’s only honing his skills.

“If you’re a recreational or hobby flyer and don’t know where the divider is between commercial and recreational activity, you’re likely to engage in neither if you know the FAA can come after you after the fact. Since the FAA has failed to provide a clear and adequate definition of what these entail, the risk is real and costly.”

said Jason Snead, a FAA policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation.

Xizmo Media Productions – $5,000

Xizmo Media, a New York video production company, was hired by Fordham University to shoot footage of its 2015 commencement ceremony.

The FAA fined Xizmo because its drone wasn’t registered, flew in a reckless manner, and also pulled out several other regulations that are normally used for manned aircraft. Xizmo eventually settled with the FAA for $5,000.

Paul Skinner – $500 & 30 days in jail

The first custodial sentence was given to a Paul Skinner, a professional Seattle aerial photographer, whose out of control drone knocked a woman unconscious at a parade in 2015.

Seattle man given jail time for a drone accident that knocked a woman unconscious

— Digital Trends (@DigitalTrends) February 28, 2017


The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is in charge of UAS regulation in the United Kingdom.

The CAA has been actively enforcing drone regulations, with a focus on punishing both professionals using drones for commercial purposes without being licensed, and reckless operations.

Nigel Wilson – £1,800

Drone enthusiast Nigel Wilson admitted nine breaches of drone regulations for illegally flying his drone over football stadiums across England and over buildings in central London where he had no direct sight of the aircraft. He also flew his drone within 50 meters of several buildings. All these acts are offences under the 2009 Air Navigation Order.

His videos on YouTube showed views from heights of at least 100 meters of Premier League, Champions League and Championship football matches.  Other videos showed views of Big Ben from close range, the Queen Victoria Memorial next to Buckingham Palace, HMS Belfast at its mooring on the Thames and the Shard, Europe’s tallest skyscraper, all accompanied by a dramatic soundtrack.

Footage from Drone flown illegally over Football stadium @MerseyPolice – Man convicted today

— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) September 15, 2015

Filmmaker Richard Brunner – £1,125

Richard was fined £1,125 in October 2015 for illegally flying his drone over Hyde Park without permission during a shoot for a promotional video. The drone flew in controlled airspaces without consent from the Civil Aviation Authority. He was also charged for flying the drone 10 metres away from traffic and pedestrians.

Mark Spencer – £300

On 9 November 2013, staff at Alton Towers Resort observed a quadcopter flying over the X Sector of the resort. Mark later posted video clips on YouTube which showed that he had launched the quadcopter some way from the resort, beyond visual line of sight.

Stafford Magistrates’ Court convicted him for not maintaining direct visual contact with his drone and flying within 150 metres of a congested area.


Transport Canada is the institution for regulating drones in Canada. Have a look at the latest documentation published on drone laws as changes have been applied recently, especially for hobby pilots.

Transport Canada launched a record 118 investigations into the illegal use of UAVs in 2016, 16 of which resulted in drone fines. That’s more than three times the number of fines issued in 2015.

Moves Media – $5,000

Moves Media Ltd., a Vancouver video production company, was fined $5,000 for operating a drone contrary to its Special Flight Operations Certificate issued by Transport Canada.

This case depicts well how navigating through all the legal authorizations required to perform your job can be painful but both mandatory and necessary.

Julien Gramigna – $1000

Julien Gramigna, photographer and co-founder of the company VuDuCiel, was fined $1,000 by Transport Canada in December 2014. The fine claims the use of a drone to take photos of a house for a real estate agent without proper federal permit.

Montrealer Julien Gramigna fined $1,000 for using a drone to film a house for a realtor

— Canoe (@Canoe) December 27, 2014


Australian drone laws are established by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Drone regulation for both recreational and commercial use are extensively explained on their website. The CASA has started to prosecute illegal behavior of drone pilots seriously in the last few months.

For instance, a person was fined $1440 AUD for flying a drone in Sydney Harbour, which is a restricted airspace, while another person was fined $900 AUD for flying a drone above a children’s Easter egg hunt in Canberra.

Wedding guest – $900

TV presenter Sylvia Jeffreys and her journalist partner Peter Stefanovic thought it would be a good idea to ask one of their friends to catch images of them popping champagne at their wedding using a drone.

Their friend now faces a $900 AUD fine for “hazardous flying at and near guests” after the drone footage uploaded on Instagram got CASA’s attention. CASA’s director, Shane Carmody, made no apology for the fine.

“The rules protect people, property and aircraft from drones,” Mr Carmody said.

Queensland pilot – $850

An Australian recreational drone owner was fined $850 AUD by the CASA after uploading numerous illegal drone videos on YouTube.

“While each individual breach was not major in itself, the number of breaches has caused me concern”,

said the CASA investigator.

Each of his uploaded clips could have been charged between $850 and $8,000 AUD. The $850 fine was large enough to scare the flights out of this pilot as the drone in question quickly appeared for sale online.

University Student – $900

A university student has copped a $900 AUD fine for flying a drone close to a police helicopter conducting a rescue operation in the New South Wales Blue Mountains.

The drone then crashed into a tree on a private home.


France is a worldwide pioneer in UAV regulation, having adopted civilian drone legislation in the spring of 2012.

Since the legislation went into effect in 2012, around 30 legal cases involving drones have given way to criminal punishment by the French Aviation Administration.

Almost all of the offenders were slapped with small drone fines, but one person earned a one-year suspended prison sentence. In this case, he had flown a civilian drone dangerously close to a helicopter.

Tristan Redman – €1,000

British reporter Tristan Redman was charged a €1,000 drone fine in February 2015 by Paris Court for flying a drone several times over central Paris. The journalist, who was compiling a piece for Al-Jazeera news, also had his drone confiscated.

The Netherlands

The Ministerie van Infrastructuur and Milieu handles drone regulation in the Netherlands. Documentation in English about drone rules in practice can be found here.

Dutch Violinist André Rieu – €8000

André Rieu, the famous Dutch violinist and conductor best known for creating the waltz-playing Johann Strauss Orchestra, was fined for flying a drone filming a performance on the Vrijthof in Maastricht.

The drone was flown above the city center (which is forbidden by current Netherlands drone regulation), at night, in a CTR zone (Maastricht has a busy regional airport), in close proximity to the 12,000 people attending the concert, and without a permit.

The amount of the fine was not divulged but the Dutch newspaper De Limburger estimates it around €8,000, the largest fine for illegal drone operations given by the Netherlands authorities to date.


— Drone-Flight Europe (@DroneFlights) May 20, 2017


The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is in charge of regulating UAS in China. Since May 2017 Chinese drone operators in China have to register under their real name with the CAAC.

UAV Sci-Tech CoPilot – 18 months in jail

In 2015, a staff member from Beijing UAV Sci-Tech Co, was sentenced to 18 months in jail by the CAAC after a drone from the company disrupted commercial flights.

In conclusion, this list of drone fines highlights that drone fines are a serious deal and it’s more important than ever to be compliant with local and federal laws.


15 Drone Fines From Around The World was originally posted at by Thomas Heremans

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Be Compliant, Drone Fines Are On The Rise!



This post was originally published on this site

Looking at the increase in the number of drone fines charged against illegal behavior by aviation authorities over the world, I see an emerging trend: more and more authorities are starting to prosecute unlawful drone operations.

While this is good news, many in the industry – as well as myself – feel that the authorities have been slow in enforcing. Why is that?

Well, most of the focus of the regulators to date has been on defining the legal framework of this new industry. How can you enforce if you don’t have a clear set of rules in place first?

Drones represent a revolutionary technology which is booming and being adopted across several verticals with new uses discovered almost every day. While the technology is ready and progresses at an amazing pace, regulators are chasing rather than anticipating this changing industry 

The problem was (and still is), setting the rules isn’t an easy task.

Even in countries where considerable efforts have been made so far in building a legal framework for safely integrating drones into airspace, regulators had to conciliate two different interests – sometimes conflicting: promoting safety and compliance and supporting the needs of the fast-growing drone industry.

Another factor complicating the regulatory efforts is that increased drone use raises several issues from a legal perspective.

Operating a drone involves different areas of law: privacy law, tort law, insurance law, civil aviation regulations, in particular, safety for people and manned aircraft.  On top of that, privacy is a trending topic in the past few months. 

The complexity of this task increases in countries where multiple authorities have input and control over some of the legal aspects related to hobbyist and commercial flying.

For example, in the U.S., a confusing crossover of federal, state and local regulations – the so-called patchwork quilt – is negatively impacting the industry’s development and the capacity of the authorities to focus on enforcement, as a recent research by the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College highlights. One of their key insights was that in several cases local drone laws contravene the FAA’s drone rules, resulting in legal conflicts.

Crossing the ocean, while the European Commission has started to draft a blueprint of a legal framework for operating drones, individual  EU member states still have the total decision-making power over drone regulations and legal prosecutions. While the Commission has put a lot of effort recently to standardize drone rules, analysts expect areas of conflict between the European framework and the state and local laws to emerge.

Another problem the aviation authorities have been struggling to deal with is the lack of resources specifically dedicated to managing drone registrations, complaints and reports of illegal or reckless operations.

Despite these difficulties, during the last couple of years, several countries managed to put a drone regulatory framework in place, and are switching their attention from setting the rules to enforcing them.

Moreover, drone regulation is not the concern of drone operators only. Their clients are requiring compliance as well to protect their own brands.

Content buyers have begun to understand that drone content must be acquired legally – like any other type of content such as music – if they don’t want to face the risks associated with illegal operations.

In some countries, regulators are enforcing on the buyers’ side too. For example, in the US, if you hire a drone operator who doesn’t hold a Part 107 allowing commercial operations, you could be facing federal charges as well.

If you are curious to read about some of the most significant cases involving prosecution for non-compliance, I compiled a list of 15 interesting drone fines from around the world, showing the increasing prosecution trend.

So whether you’re a drone operator looking to monetize your drone in a compliant way or whether you’re an aerial content buyer looking for legally acquired content, the website,,  provides a straightforward overview of regulation by country. UAV Coach also offers an updated list of drone laws and regulations by country, making it impossible to feign ignorance of the rules.


Be Compliant, Drone Fines Are On The Rise! was originally posted at by Thomas Heremans

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