Central New York, Consumer

Drone Sales Could Reach Record Number This Holiday Season

By Kathryn Robinson SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — A new fascination with recreational drones could land the gadget at the top of Central New Yorkers’ holiday wish list this season.

“You can really feel like you are flying, you can see things above your house,” SU Journalism Innovation Professor, Dan Pacheco said. “It kind of sparks people’s imaginations to think. It’s like if you can’t go there yourself, you might as well send a flying robot to do it for you and you can get the video.”

The Federal Aviation Administration hopes to implement guidelines before the holidays that would require users to register their drones before flying.

Syracuse Hancock Airport Executive Director, Christina Callahan, agrees with the proposed guidelines that would consider recreational users as pilots.

“Once you’ve put that drone in the air, you are the pilot of that drone and just like any other pilot you need to be aware of your surroundings, the rules, the regulations and the do’s and don’ts,” Callahan told NCC News.

Know Before You Fly is an education campaign in partnership with the FAA to educate drone pilots. The FAA has indicated where it is safe and legal to fly a recreational drone:

  • Never fly above 400 feet.
  • Steer clear of airports. Never fly within five miles of an airport without contacting the airport or control tower.
  • Never fly near other aircraft and obstacles.
  • Always keep the drone in sight.
  • Stay 25 feet from individuals and never intentionally fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles.
  • Do not fly in severe weather conditions (high winds or reduced visibility.)
  • Do not fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Do not fly near or over sensitive infrastructure or property such as power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.
  • Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.
  • Do not conduct surveillance or photograph anyone in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission.

Drone experts say the most important thing a user can do is to inform themselves before takeoff. Pacheco stressed the importance of education and training for new drone pilots.

“When you have people like Skyworks, it’s great because they can train anyone who’s interested, if they (new users) seek it out,” Pacheco said.

Skyworks Project works to discover what is possible with drone technology and aids new users and businesses.

Founder and President, Arland Whitfield, said drone technology has expanded “like an epidemic” since he first became interested four years ago.

“It’s popular because it’s really easy to fly,” Whitfield said. “It’s really easy to understand and you can do some incredible things with it.”

Recreational drones were a hot Black Friday item for consumers.

Drone sales could reach 400,000 this holiday season, according to the Consumer Technology Association.