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A buzzworthy guide to piloting a drone in Indy

What’s that sound? It’s your drone capturing awesome pictures and videos of the Circle City — after you learn the rules and guidelines.

INDYtoday: INDY_Mia drone city footage gif_APR24

Drones are an exciting way to see new viewpoints in your city.

Drone footage by @miaonthemap

City Editor Shea here. As I had the pleasure of crossing paths with Mia, who you may remember filled in for me while I was on maternity leave, I learned that she has another awesome skill beyond her obvious talent of knowing everything there is to know in Indy: She’s a drone pilot.

If you’re like me, your drone is still in the packaging, or you flew it once… straight into a tree in your backyard and now you’re nervous to take it out again. Thankfully, Mia helped me decode exactly what beginners need to know in order to take flight safely and successfully in Indy.

Pre-flight checklist

Commercial drone operators — think real estate or cinematography — have more strict licensing qualifications, but as a hobbyist, your first step is to take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST). It’s free and offered online by a variety of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved administrators; always carry proof of certification when flying.

Does your drone weigh 0.55 pounds or more? Then you are required to register it and ensure that it’s Remote ID compliant. It’s also highly recommended that you download the B4UFLY mobile app, which provides key information like interactive maps, airspace designations, and more.

INDYtoday: INDY_capitol mall drone_APR24

Fun fact: Drones have their own professional sport called Drone Racing League (or DRL for short).

Photo by @miaonthemap

Local regulations

Speaking of where you can/can’t fly a drone in Indy — you’re cleared for takeoff most anywhere. However, the use of drones is prohibited on Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) property such as state parks, natural, and recreational areas. Licenses to launch and film may occasionally be granted by DNR or by specific DNR divisions. Additionally, you can’t use a drone to scout game during hunting season.

There are also restrictions extending five miles from the airport. Various other guidelines, like maintaining line-of-sight and not flying more than 400 ft above the ground should be followed.

Here are some great local places to fly.

INDYtoday: Mia city drone skyline_APR24

Thought the sunset looked pretty from the ground? Wait until you see it through the eyes of your drone.

Photo by @miaonthemap

Becoming an ace pilot

Here are Mia’s top tips on how to turn your drone piloting skills into muscle memory.

“Get very comfortable with the settings + to find a park with a lot of space to practice in. After you get comfortable with the drone and your abilities to operate it safely, then practice getting low, medium, and high shots from different angles + using quick shots.

Lastly, and this is a big one, be mindful of those around you and be sure to check flight restrictions both in your map and online for the area you’ll be flying.”

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