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Drone Laws in Colorado



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Paying attention to everything the FAA has put forth since their rules and regulations were initially put into full effect is crucial for all drone fliers. Are you aware of the laws and regulations related to drones in your state, as well?

Flying Over Colorado

Unfortunately, it would seem that the only areas drone users in Colorado are able to fly legally are up in the mountains and smaller areas. A lot of areas are unclear as to whether or not drones are allowed.

Thankfully for drone enthusiasts living in Colorado, it’s legal to fly your drone in the Colorado Rockies, specifically in the highest point. Mount Evans is a whopping 14,240 feet in the air and one of the best places in the entire state to get some footage.

White River National Forest’s own Hanging Lake area is legal, apparently, as well! It’s a beautiful mountain lake that offers crystal clear waters flowing from the incredible waterfalls. Perfect for quick shots!

The Registering Process in Colorado

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that all Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) owners follow strict regulations and laws. You will need to file your name, home address and your email address as a start.

From there, you will receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration and Proof of Ownership. These will include an identification number for your aircraft. You must have this number displayed on your drone at all times. The number will be valid for up to 3 years.

All aircraft that weighs more than 0.55 pounds, or 250 grams, and less than 55 pounds, or 25 kilograms, must be registered. This also includes any added payloads, such as an onboard camera.

You must be at least 13-years-old in order to register and, effective December 21st, 2015, all newly purchased or made drones must be registered before their first flight. You are able to register through a paper-based process, but you can also do so online by clicking here.

Proximity to Airports in Colorado

As a general rule of thumb, and in accordance with the law from the FAA, you may not fly within a 5-mile radius of any airport. In 2012 the FAA enacted the Modernization and Reauthorization Act which requires hobbyist drone operators, meaning residential, to contact air traffic control and/or airport management if they are operating within a 5-mile radius of any local airport.

This is enacted nationwide, not only in Colorado, under Part 101 of the Act, being Special Rule for Model Aircraft, to ensure that drone operations under unsafe conditions are disapproved before the drone can be launched.

Regardless of the local airport you will be flying near, and possibly breaching airspace, you will need to contact either the airport air traffic control tower or the airport operator.

You will need to establish an agreed-upon operating procedure with airport air traffic or the airport operator and answer a couple of questions. For example, questions relating to how long you are going to be flying for.

Unique Drone Laws in Colorado

At this time of writing, all of the legal information listed below is deemed as accurate as possible and fully in effect.

Code of Colorado Regulations 406-0 #004 – AIDS IN TAKING WILDLIFE

C. It shall be unlawful to use a drone to look for, scout, or detect wildlife as an aid in the hunting or taking of wildlife.

For the purposes of this regulation, drone shall be defined as including, without limitation, any contrivance invented, used or designed for navigation of, or flight in the air that is unmanned or guided remotely. A drone may also be referred to as “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” (UAV) or “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System” (UAVS).

Municipal Law – Town of Telluride

During a recent council meeting, the Town of Telluride adopted multiple regulations regarding drone use. As of April 18th, 2017, the proposed ordinance has been put into place as a law.

Any drone users looking to fly must first have approval from owners of private property where the flight will take place or from the town itself. Endangering both people and wildlife and operating a drone in a reckless manner is strictly prohibited. They must also keep their distance from any wildlife or people who are not involved in the flight operation directly.

Drone users must also ensure that they are not under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, or any controlled substance in general. They must also not have any preexisting physical or mental conditions that may interfere with flying safely.

Municipal Law – Cherry Hills Village

Cherry Hills Village has enacted a law that requires all drone users to follow guidelines and regulations set in place by the FAA and by registered with the FAA.

Drones are prohibited from flying over public buildings, trails, public parks, public streets, and any area that is deemed to be city property.

Drone Ban in Local Ski Resorts

There are a number of ski resorts located across Colorado that have placed a ban on drone use, which you can inquire further on by clicking here.

Other Legal Issues With Drones in Colorado

At this time of writing, there are currently a number of bills in circulation within the state of Colorado surrounding drones.

Municipal Regulations – Town of Breckenridge

The proposed ordinance would allow local authorities to enforce FAA regulations and address interference with firefighters and local law enforcement, voyeurism and reckless operation. It also includes having a deadly weapon or firearm equipped on the drone, interfering with any government emergency operations whatsoever, and using a drone for surveillance that has not been permitted by law.

Drone users will be unable to takeoff, land, or operate in general on any property owned by the town. Prohibited by law, if approved, annoying or harassing wildlife, in general, will also be included.

Further, it would also ban drone flight over restricted areas, such as the Carter Park Dog Park, Cucumber Gulch Preserve, the local golf course and the Nordic center if golfers and/or skiers are present.

HB 15-555 Trespassing & Harassment


Bill Summary

(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced and does not reflect any amendments that may be subsequently adopted. If this bill passes third reading in the house of introduction, a bill summary that applies to the reengrossed version of this bill will be available at

A person commits the crime of first degree criminal trespass if he or she is not a peace officer or other agent of a state or local government agency acting in his or her official capacity and he or she knowingly and intentionally uses an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to observe, record, transmit, or capture images of another person when the other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

A person commits harassment if he or she is not a peace officer or other agent of a state or local government agency acting in his or her official capacity and, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, he or she uses a UAV to track a person’s movements in or about a public place without the person’s authorization.

The bill amends existing law concerning the retention of passive surveillance records by government agencies to contemplate the retention of records that are obtained through the use of UAVs.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Colorado:

SECTION 1. In Colorado Revised Statutes, add 18-7-802 as follows:

18-7-802. Criminal invasion of privacy by the use of a device – penalty.




SECTION 2. Act subject to petition – effective date. This act takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on the day following the expiration of the ninety-day period after final adjournment of the general assembly (August 5, 2015, if adjournment sine die is on May 6, 2015); except that, if a referendum petition is filed pursuant to section 1 (3) of article V of the state constitution against this act or an item, section, or part of this act within such period, then the act, item, section, or part will not take effect unless approved by the people at the general election to be held in November 2016 and, in such case, will take effect on the date of the of the official declaration of the vote thereon by the governor.

At this time of writing, this bill is still up for enforcement.

HB 16-1020 No Drones Near Airports or Jails

A person commits introducing contraband in the first degree if he or she knowingly and unlawfully operates any unmanned aircraft system (UAS) within 5 miles of a detention facility with the intent to introduce or attempt to introduce a dangerous instrument, alcohol or an alcoholic beverage, a controlled substance, or marijuana or marijuana concentrate into the detention facility.

A person shall not operate a UAS:
Within 5 miles of an airport unless the person is authorized by the airport’s air traffic control tower;
In a manner that interferes with the operation of manned aircraft;
More than 400 feet above the earth’s surface;
In a manner that is prohibited by any federal law or rule;
In violation of any temporary flight restriction (TFR) or notice to airmen (NOTAM) issued by the federal aviation administration (FAA); or
In the airspace directly above any detention facility.
A person who violates any of these prohibitions commits a class 1 misdemeanor. These prohibitions do not apply to the operation of a public UAS operated in compliance with any current and enforceable authorization granted by the FAA.

(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)

FAQ on Colorado Law and Drones

If you do not see your question, or an answer to it, listed below, feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll gladly give you one.

Is a drone/UAS considered the same as a model aircraft?

The United States Congress has defined and concluded that a model aircraft is only considered a drone or a UAS when the following points are met:

It’s flown for recreational purposes or as a hobby and not for any business or commercial reasons
It’s flown within visible distance, meaning being able to see it at all times, of the individual operating it
It’s capable of sustaining flight within the atmosphere, meaning that it can fly

If your model aircraft, regardless of whether or not you acquired it pre-built or built it yourself, meets the above points to your knowledge, it’s considered a drone/UAS.

What is the Small UAS Rule?

The Small UAS Rule requires those who have unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, that weigh less than 55 pounds, payload included, to register their aircraft with the FAA. This only applies to recreational or hobby fliers and not commercial drone use, however.

Is the FAA’s Small UAS Rule still in effect?

Yes, it has been in effect from August 29th of 2016 and is still in effect at this time of writing.

Do I have to carry my Certificate of Aircraft Registration while flying my UAS at all times?

Yes, you must have the registration certificate from the FAA at all times during flight operation. In accordance with federal law,


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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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How fire departments are using drones to save time and money



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The following piece is a guest post from Dronefly’s Alex Netto.

From burning buildings to brushfires, firefighting drones equipped with thermal cameras can see through smoke and darkness to identify where the hotspots are and where the crew is.

With a drone, a Battalion Chief can quickly make an assessment of a situation from all angles with optical and thermal cameras from which the best decision on how to proceed can be made. Drones are the future of assisting public safety officials do their job more efficiently and more cost effectively.

Drone site Dronefly has put together an infographic highlighting the top firefighting drone use cases.

Here are some of the use cases for drones in fire departments:So what do fire departments or other public safety agencies need to do to operate a drone? Here is some of the most popular gear used by fire departments:

-By Alex Netto

Alex Netto works on the marketing team for located in Los Angeles, California he enjoys drone photography (instagram @bradthedrone) and running marathons. He hopes to see the fast adoption of drones into industries ranging from public safety, inspection, agriculture, surveying, and mapping.

Twitter: @dronefly
Facebook: @dronefly


How fire departments are using drones to save time and money was originally posted at by Sally French

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Altair Aerial Blackhawk Review



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The Altair Blackhawk is Altair Aerial’s newest drone and their most advanced. Unlike the AA108 or the Hornet 818 Plus, the Blackhawk is built for speed and distance and offers impressive speed, stability, and overall quality at an astoundingly low price. If you’re looking for a quadcopter that’s fast and fun to fly, look no further than the Altair Blackhawk.

See the best price for the Blackhawk on Amazon USA, or Canada, UK, Australia & Other International Shoppers click here, see their International Shipping rates here.

2017 has been quite a year for Lincoln-based drone startup Altair Aerial. Earlier this year I reviewed the AA108,  and it quickly became one of our favorite beginner drones here at Dronethusiast.

That was followed up with an upgraded variant called the 818 Plus and now known as The Hornet, which was a more photography-focused version with impressive hover capabilities. And now, as we all prepare ourselves for whatever horrors 2018 has in store, they’ve released the simply-titled Blackhawk, which promises to be their most advanced quadcopter yet. Unlike their previous two drone offerings, the Blackhawk is “built for speed and distance,” and since I’ve reviewed everything else Altair this year, I figured I’d take a look at this latest quadcopter and see how well it lives up to the promise of its predecessors.

Getting started:

The AA108 and the Hornet came nearly pre-assembled, but the Blackhawk immediately stands out when you open the box and see a bunch of tiny pieces. Many of these are replacement parts (which you’re gonna want to keep close as we’ll discuss in a moment), but the Blackhawk also requires quite a bit of assembly at the start – it took me about 15-20 minutes or so, and you’ll need a screwdriver. That said, it’s all very straightforward – you just need to attach the landing gear, guards, and the propellers to the body, and the instructions are very clear and easy to understand.

Here’s what comes with the drone:

In the box: Altair Blackhawk

  • 1× Altair Blackhawk Drone
  • 1× Controller
  • 1× wall outlet charger
  • 4× propeller blades
  • 4× landing gear
  • 4× propeller guards
  • 1× camera mount
  • 1× user manual
  • 1× LiPo Battery

The Blackhawk is still reasonably beginner-friendly (I took it out with my little high-school-aged brother and he was able to fly it without much difficulty) but that’s clearly less of a focus here than it was with previous Altair offerings. So there’s no Quick-Start Guides or fancy controller inlets here – just you and the manual, though that’s more than enough if you know what you’re doing.

There’s also no app features, so you won’t need a smartphone to get started. In fact, there’s no camera at all – just an attachable mount for an action camera. Important to note – unlike some of its competition, the Blackhawk doesn’t exclusively work with GoPros, but is designed to work with any similar action camera.

The upshot, however, is that the drone is much quicker to actually start flying. Once the battery’s charged it’s extremely easy to connect the drone to the controller and take off.

There’s plenty of extra buttons on the controller for adjusting the trim or other calibration effects, but I didn’t actually need any of them – everything seemed to work perfectly right out of the box, which was not at all the case with the AA108. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Altair Blackhawk Taking Flight

There’s no fancy features here – no headless mode, no altitude hold, and no one-touch takeoff. You’ve got a stick that goes up and a stick that turns, and Altair is selling the Blackhawk purely on how fun it is to fly.

Which, as it turns out, is actually a good thing, because the Blackhawk is an absolute joy. Just take a look at this video Dronethusiast took of the drone in motion:

Altair Blackhawk Video

Keep in mind that this was taken on a cold and windy December day. The previous Altair products have both struggled with wind to the point of being almost unusable for those who live in areas that get a lot of inclement weather. But the Blackhawk has a number of features that are designed to improve stability:

  • Shape and Weight – Everything about the Blackhawk’s design is intended to give it the edge to fight the wind. To use one example: the Hornet’s propeller guards are designed for heavy-duty impact, giving the wind a large, aerodynamic shape to pull. The Blackhawk’s guards, conversely, are a lot thinner and have plenty of room for air to move through. Plus, it’s just a lot heavier.
  • Brushless Motors – These make the drone a lot more quiet, if that’s really important to you. But more importantly, brushless motors provide much more power than their brushful counterparts – and that power translates directly into stability, letting the Blackhawk fight the wind and win.
  • 6-axis gyro – standard on professional drones but a first for Altair. The 6-axis gyro keeps the drone steady even in harsher conditions. Plus, you can adjust the trim in all directions, allowing you to compensate if the drone starts to drift without input.

But it’s not just stable. The Blackhawk is fast. Altair says it’s designed to feel like a racing drone, and while I don’t have any experience in that regard, it certainly feels like what you’d think a racer should feel like.  Swoops and turns, dips and dives – and there’s actually a dedicated button that lets you pull of 360 degree flips. The Hornet was a thinking man’s drone, designed to let you carefully line up the perfect photography shot. The Blackhawk is exciting. It makes you want to try trick shots and quote Star Wars.

Fortunately, that speed doesn’t come at the cost of control. I mean this in two ways. The first, quite simply, is that the drone controls extremely well – while it may be a bit intimidating to beginners, the new controller lets you have full control over even the tiniest movements. And when you push the sticks to a full tilt, the drone takes off like a bat out of hell.

But the Blackhawk also has a 300 meter flight range, which means that it’s almost impossible to fly the drone out of the controller’s range unless you’re trying to do so. This is something that’s extremely important and often overlooked with fast, racing-style drones – it’s easy for them to zoom out of control, and that can be a real problem if the controller’s not powerful enough to keep the quadcopter in check. Altair, as always, has made a drone for drone users, not just something that seems like a good idea on paper.

Finally, the Blackhawk also has a 15-minute battery life, though the battery takes significantly larger to charge than the Hornet’s (which has the same amount of flight time in a smaller package) and the drone only comes with one out of the box.

Certainly not bad for a drone of this size – hell, 15 minutes is almost unheard of at its price range – but it’s hard not to compare it unfavorably to its predecessor. Still, considering the power necessary to get the Blackhawk in the air, perhaps it’s fair to give the battery a break.

The Verdict

There’s a lot to love about the Blackhawk. It’s stylish, powerful, and a hell of a lot of fun to fly. It delivers on Altair’s promise to provide a more advanced alternative to the AA108 and the Hornet and shows that the company is ready to move beyond beginner quadcopters and into products that can impress even experienced drone enthusiasts.

But one thing that really needs to get talked about is the price. Sure, it’s on sale right now, but even at its most expensive this is a drone that costs less than $160.

For less than the price of the Hornet, a beginner drone that’s really only good for amateur photography, you get a drone that can keep up (quite literally) with the best of them, a drone with high-tech motor technology and a stable design that won’t quit. For that price, this is an amazing deal, and I highly recommend the Blackhawk to anyone who’s tried Altair’s other products and is ready for the big(ger) leagues.

The Hornet is currently available from Amazon and retails for $129.80. The product ships out of Lincoln to the United States, as well as internationally to Australia, UK & Canada for $9.99 Shipping.



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