If there’s one thing we can credit drones for, it’s their ability to provide a different and often refreshing perspective on things that we’ve seen dozens of times before. The United States' Independence Day holiday is one that's been photographed for many years and in many different ways. With drone technology advancing and becoming more accessible to the general public, it’s a certainty that the holiday’s traditional pyrotechnics displays are going to be photographed and captured from above, leaving us all with a stunning aerial perspective on the shows we’ve watched from the ground for years. But is it safe to fly an unmanned aircraft through fireworks at night?
We've seen them before. Videos like the ones below are entertaining and sometimes stunning to watch, but is the footage even legal to capture to begin with?
It’s important to keep in mind any rules and regulations regarding flying a drone at night and around a pyrotechnics show. I’m also sure there are plenty of reasons not to even do it, such as the possibility of losing your drone to a rogue fireball or, even worse, the possibility of injuring someone.
Is It Legal To Record Fireworks With A Drone?
Here’s where things get a little fuzzy. According to an FAA spokesman, federal regulations don't specifically ban UAV pilots from flying in and around fireworks, but in a recent announcement, the agency recommended that operators shouldn't fly drones in or near fireworks.
Flying At Night
Rules are rules, and the FAA rules prohibit amateur drone pilots from flying over crowds of people in the dark and at heights exceeding 400 feet. Additionally, the aircraft must remain in the operator's line of sight at all times. Sounds to me like those restrictions would leave any amateur aerial videographers grounded at most fireworks shows. Even DJI seems to agree it's not the smartest idea:
We would never want anyone flying into an actual fireworks display,” says Michael Oldenburg, a spokesperson for DJI, one of the world's largest drone manufacturers."
Know Before You Fly is an education campaign founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) in partnership with the FAA to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Other resources are available online to help you research any rules or regulations around operating a drone, so do your research before you become a part of the next Fstoppers headline titled, "Drone Pilot Arrested at Fourth of July Show."