Are you a drone hobbyist? If yes, have you ever asked yourself the question, “Can I fly my drone at night?”
It is quite interesting to learn more about these technologies especially if you own one, be it a Cheerson CX-10, a Hubsan X4, an Eachine H8S, or the small drones.
My Dad is a military pilot serving in the Air Force. As such, I have been exposed to magazines relating to the force.
I have encountered magazines mostly with C-130 aircraft and Cessna planes on the cover. Interestingly, I read about the use of drones in the military, and I asked my father about it.
Well, since I live in the Age of Google, he just told me to Google it. My Dad said that drones are quite useful because they do not need a pilot aboard them in order to operate.
As a photography enthusiast, I received a mini-drone as a Christmas present in 2015. I use it for taking photos both at daytime and night time.
I have also asked my Dad, “Dad, can I fly my drone at night?” and he said that this is certainly possible and it is.
I can tell you how you can enjoy using your micro, mini, or small drone at night. But first, let us get to know the equipment.
Fundamentals of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or Drones
A drone is a space or aircraft that is unmanned or unpiloted. Its other name is “unmanned aerial vehicle” or UAV.
This technology is typically employed in space and aviation industries as well as for military purposes.
I understand that they are protective mechanisms which do not put military or Air Force pilots’ lives in danger, especially when they are engaged in a war.
My Dad told me that drones could fly for extended periods. Furthermore, they will continuously operate for as long as they are filled with fuel and without any mechanical problems.
As you can see, drones are very useful. Hence, it is crucial that you learn about them because even if you are not in the military, aviation, or space industry, you can also use UAVs.
Keep in mind, however, that if you own recreational small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), you will need to have it registered at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
This requirement is necessary for drone owners who have UAVs that are over 0.55 pounds. With three-year validity, you have to pay $5 for registration.
The federal government is imposing this law to safeguard the public from drone owners who may cause damage to people, property, or to other aircraft.
In addition, they are just protecting us from having our privacy and our country’s national security violated by felons who may capture unauthorized aerial images or videos.
Related Topic: 5 Facts On If You Can Fly a Drone over Private Property
Guidelines When Flying a Drone at Night
Now that you understand the essential facts about UAVs, our next agenda is to discover if you can fly a drone at night.
If you have already complied with the requirements of the FAA, then you are all set to fly your shiny drone.
You would ask me “Can I fly my drone at night?” My answer is a big YES, being a drone hobbyist, you are certainly allowed to fly it in the bright, starry evening!
Now, before I can tell you the tips on how you can fly your drone at night, first, take note of the following guidelines from the FAA.
1. You cannot fly your drone over sporting events or a stadium with a seating capacity of 30,000 or more spectators during:
- a regular or post-season National Football League (NFL);
- Major League Baseball (MLB);
- National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 football match; and
- an important motor speedway happening.
The area mentioned here is at or below 3,000 above ground level within a 3 nautical mile radius of any sports arena.
Moreover, you cannot use your UAV one hour before and after one hour past the conclusion of the sporting event.
2. You have to inform all the airports, heliports, sea-based airports, and air traffic control towers located within five miles of the area where you will fly your drone.
Ensure that you will not endanger the airspace’s safety. Otherwise, you will be denied from flying your UAV.
3. You should follow the community’s rules of safety when flying drones.
4) You should fly your drone within visual line of sight and not into fog, clouds, behind buildings, trees, and other partial obstructions.
Be sure that you follow these rules in order to ensure a plain-sailing experience with yourself flying your drone.
III. 8 Effective Tips on Why You Can Fly a Drone at Night
Related Topic: Tips for Drone Owners: What If Your Drone Gets Out of Range?
Here is a list of the best tips you can follow when flying your UAV during a bright, starry night:
Tip # 1: Be Aware of the Area Where You are Flying Your UAV.
The dark skies and environment would normally prevent you from seeing the surroundings which your drone will traverse.
Following this tip will make sure that you are aware of where the power lines, buildings, trees, and other possible impediments for your drone are situated.
Tip # 2: Ensure that You Are Mindful of Your Surroundings.
Be safe when you are flying your UAV at night. Pay attention to your immediate environs, and not just your phone screen and the drone itself.
Bring someone you know like a family member or a close friend to ensure your security.
Tip # 3: Remove the Neutral Density Filters of Your Drone.
The Neutral Density (ND) filters are sheets of semi-transparent glass.
Used by aerial photographers and videographers, they are usually placed over a camera lens, limiting exposure.
You will not need this part of the drone during a night flight. ND filters diminish the amount of light that enters the camera.
They facilitate a lengthier time of exposure, highlight movement, and provide a softer and more surrealist appearance to busy pictures.
Tip # 4: Fly Your Drone to an Altitude of 300 Feet.
The optimum altitude for flying UAVs is approximately 300 feet. You are guaranteed that there are no hindrances to your flight at this height.
Going below this altitude is unsafe. You may hit some tall trees or buildings. You can always lower your UAV from 300 feet when you need to.
Tip # 5: Ensure that You are Focused on Your Drone.
The screen of your drone’s controller is not an active representation of your immediate environs. Thus, you should NEVER merely look at it while your UAV is in-flight.
This is because it is not possible to view any impediments that could be in front of you. In addition, it certainly unsafe for your drone to be flying without you closely watching it.
Look only at your drone and follow the light-emitting diodes (LEDs). It is easier to merely follow the green and red lights flying through the sky as well.
Tip # 6: When Shooting at Night, Switch Off the Front LEDs.
Otherwise, when your drone is stationary, and the lights are switched on, you will get an unwanted red glow on your image or video footage.
Moreover, this glow will be all over your face, preventing you from viewing the screen when you fly your UAV forward.
Tip # 7: Do Not Fully Switch Off the LEDs.
Turning off the LEDs all the way will prevent you from easily seeing your drone and the direction it is traversing.
Hence, you should only switch off the LEDs when you are capturing a video or an image.
Tip # 8: Perform Maintenance Checks on Your Drone.
Before every flight, take time to make a quick maintenance check as if you are checking your car prior to heading on a road trip.
Charge the drone’s main battery, check the propellers for wear and tear and for being loose, and calibrate its compass.
This is the necessary safety procedure to prevent any possible damage for your UAV in the future.