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Drone safety and respect urged by police as new fleet of Christmas gifts hits the sky

Police are reminding Calgarians to fly their drones legally and respectfully, now that a fresh batch of unmanned aerial vehicles is hitting the sky.

Know the rules and don't try spying on your neighbours with a quadcopter-mounted camera, officers advise

Drones were a popular Christmas gift in 2015 so, in early 2016, Calgary police are asking their operators to respect the laws and their fellow citizens when operating the remote-controlled aerial vehicles. (CBC)

Police are reminding Calgarians to fly their drones legally and respectfully, now that a fresh batch of unmanned aerial vehicles is hitting the sky.

"If you received the gift of flight over the holiday season, please ensure you are aware of the restrictions on these devices," police said in a release.

"Drones that are flown in an unsafe manner can endanger lives, aircraft and property."

While regulated by Transport Canada, police officers are the first responders to complaints of unsafe drone flights and warn they will conduct "a full investigation" and lay charges, if appropriate, in each particular case.

But the Calgary Police Service is hoping education will avoid those situations for the most part.

Police are reminding the public of advice from Transport Canada on the recreational use of drones.

Drone users are asked to not fly the devices:

  • Closer than nine kilometres from any airport, heliport, or aerodrome.
  • Higher than 90 metres above the ground.
  • Closer than 150 metres from people, animals, buildings, structures, or vehicles.
  • In populated areas or near large groups of people, including sporting events, concerts, festivals, and firework displays.
  • Near moving vehicles, highways, bridges, busy streets or anywhere you could endanger or distract drivers.
  • Within restricted and controlled airspace, including near or over military bases, prisons, and forest fires.
  • Anywhere you may interfere with first responders.

In general, you are advised to:

  • Obtain permission from the landowner (which includes The City of Calgary) before flying your drone.
  • Fly your drone during daylight hours and in good weather (not in clouds or fog).
  • Keep your drone in sight, where you can see it with your own eyes – not only through an on-board camera, monitor or smartphone.
  • Make sure your drone is safe for flight before take-off. Ask yourself, for example: Are the batteries fully charged? Is it too cold to fly?
  • Know if you need to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate.
  • Respect the privacy of others – avoid flying over private property or taking photos or videos without permission.

Transport Canada has also released a flow chart to help determine which drone rules apply to you, depending on the size of the device and what you're using it for (click the image for higher-resolution PDF).

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