Things you should know before flying a drone in Michigan

Posted at 6:39 AM, Feb 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-06 12:16:00-05

(WXYZ) — Flying a drone either as a recreational pilot or as an FAA-licensed flyer is a privilege and comes with a lot of responsibilities.

Drones have become a vital tool for law enforcement to track suspects and for news stations and for film crews to get arial shots.

Steven Durecki is the co-owner of Great Lakes Ariel Video Services and an FAA-licensed UAV pilot. He's been flying drones for 10 years

"You need to know what goes on inside of an airport on the take-off and landing areas and the markings also so you are informed of everything," Durecki said.

There are two types of drone pilots. One is a recreational pilot the other is an FAA licensed Drone Pilot. But regardless of the status, all drones need to be registered with the FAA before you fly and flight plans need to be filed. Commercial drone operators can fly above 400 feet. Recreational pilots cannot.

"Most jobs, if I am not sitting in a residential area and doing a home for real estate, I will have a spotter with me at any location that deems to have one with me, Durecki said.

Many Universities, like the University of Michigan, Michigan State, and Oakland University have strict policies in place saying you cannot fly a drone on campus even though it's public property. Flyers need permission from special university committees even if a commercially licensed UAV pilot.

Durecki says as an instructor and FAA-certified pilot, he does have an issue with the tracking software but won't push the limits.

To understand drone laws and the use of drones here are some resources.

Melissa Overton, the Deputy Chief of Police for the University of Michigan- Division of Public Safety & Security, released this statement:

"The Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS) seeks to leverage technological advances to protect the public. The division’s drone detection system is able to identify and monitor Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) flying in and around the boundaries of the university in Ann Arbor.

UAS, commonly referred to as “drones,” have been growing in popularity. While drones have many useful applications, their use in public spaces can be hazardous to safety regardless of the operator’s intent. This is particularly true around densely populated areas and aircraft operation zones such as helipads.

DPSS employs a comprehensive layered approach to drone safety that includes, in addition to a UAS detection system, educating the public on our regents’ ordinance, Article XVI: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones). This ordinance prohibits drone use on campus without prior university authorization.

In 2022, DPSS detected 496 drone flights over the university's property. Officers investigating these detections most frequently find that operators are unaware of the ordinance, with no apparent intent to place others in danger. While it is our goal to take an educational approach, violations of the ordinance can result in enforcement action.

In the interest of safety, DPSS encourages UAS operators to learn and follow all applicable laws and regulations."