Unmanned Aerial Vehicle groups, along with the Federal Aviation Administration last week set off an extended awareness campaign and website focused on new operators who received the UAVs as Christmas gifts.
Though directed also at operators who are simply new to flying, the "Know Before You Fly" campaign, sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Academy of Model Aeronautics and the Small UAV Coalition in partnership with the FAA, was launched ahead of Christmas for maximum effect.
"There is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm around UAS, and the technology is becoming the must-have holiday gift," said Michael Toscano, President and CEO of AUVSI. "The 'Know Before You Fly' campaign fills a critical education gap just in time for the holiday season. We want to ensure that all prospective operators have the tools they need to fly safely and responsibly."
The ease of acquiring UAV technology has led to a proliferation of unmanned flights, some of which are authorized and some of which are not, the campaign said.
When it comes to unauthorized flights, the groups said many well-meaning individuals and prospective business operators want to fly and fly safely, but they don't realize that, just because you can buy a UAS, doesn't mean you can fly it anywhere, or for any purpose.
"AMA's members have been flying model aircraft safely for nearly 80 years, and we want to take this opportunity to share our expertise with people who are new to the technology," said Bob Brown, President of AMA. "Our 175,000 members are intimately familiar with our safety code, which we take very seriously, but not everyone who buys an unmanned aircraft knows what he or she should and should not do. Flying model aircraft is a fun and educational experience. We want to ensure it's done as safely as possible."
The Small UAV Coalition's Michael Drobac agreed that people often purchase UAS for recreational use, but aren't aware of the existing safety regulations.
"Our hope is that this campaign will make that information more accessible to the legions of flyers taking to the skies, ensuring safety for all aircraft, both manned and unmanned," he said.
In all, the campaign includes a website, educational video, point-of-sale materials and digital and social media offerings to ensure that prospective operators have the information and guidance on what they need to know before they fly a UAV.