The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has defined a small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) as a small remote controlled aircraft controlled by a ground based transmitter or an autopilot. This includes traditional R/C model aircraft and drones over 8 ounces in weight. Small unmanned aircraft and drones may be operated for hobby and recreational purposes as long as specific safety guidelines are followed. Pilots of these aircraft are referred to as "Remote Pilots".
All R/C and Drone pilots must register with the FAA. To register you must be 13 years of age or older and have a valid email address to verify your account. If you are not 13 years old, a parent or guardian must register for you.
The FAA began online testing of recreational R/C and drone pilots on June 1, 2021. There's no charge for the test and you cannot fail. The FAA UAS Safety Test is admininstered the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).
Recreational Pilots can fly for fun, but cannot earn any money from the activity. If you earn any money, no matter how small, you must register as a Commercial (Part 107) unmanned pilot and pass an extensive FAA test.
Recreational users who only fly their drone for fun, now have a smartphone app – B4UFLY – with interactive maps that show where they can and cannot fly . You cannot fly with 5 miles of any airport with a contol tower.
The FAA developed the mobile application to improve the user experience so that recreational flyers can safely fly their drone. The app provides situational awareness, but it does not allow users to fly in controlled airspace.
For more information, visit the Know Before You Fly website. Know Before You Fly is an educational campaign that provides prospective users with the information and guidance they need to fly safely and responsibly. The campaign is organized by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
In October 2023 the FAA will implement the Remote ID rule that will require special onboard equipment on all sUAS aircraft and drones operating almost anywhere in the US. sUAS aircraft and drones without Remote ID can only fly at designated flying sites such as Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) club flying fields.