Defining what a drone truly is can be tricky. A 2012 article from Scientific American tackled the subject in length, and was still somewhat unsure of what you could truly define as one most of the time. However, it did agree the hobbyist drones can fit that definition as they are, in their truest form, an unmanned aircraft.
For the most part, the drones we know are considered “model aircraft” by Transport Canada since we’re using them for hobby purposes and nothing but. It’s still alright to call them drones though, if for no reason other than it being an easier term to use. Whether we’re just taking them with us to the park for a weekend fly, or just buzzing them around the neighbourhood, it isn’t unusual to see the odd drone enthusiast out and about on a warm afternoon. Companies like Parrot and DJI are leading the way, creating and offering drones of all shapes and at various price points (ranging from $400 to $1700). Whether you’re a casual or serious flyer you can find a drone to suit your tastes at Best Buy.
What can drones do?
The drones we play around with as hobbyists are just the tip of the iceberg. Far more complicated than your standard model airplane, we often take for granted just how far our own “toys” have come over the last few years. Drones were a term you used to hear almost exclusively to describe robotic military aircraft used for tactical operations. Nowadays, drones are just about as common as model airplanes or RC cars, and affordable to boot.
However, drones in general can do so much more than just fly around the park and entertain us and our kids for a few minutes each day. Some countries have already been looking at the possibility of unmanned aircraft for farming purposes, and recently, a series of drones launched in China to do home deliveries for online orders. In the United States, the FAA started on groundwork in February 2015 to allow for commercial drone usage, which means deliveries could soon follow there too. Here in Canada, the rules are a little bit different, and recent changes to Transport Canada’s laws means that commercial use might be possible. I’ll discuss Transport Canada’s regulations for personal usage later on, and link you to both those and the commercial restrictions since they’re both on the same page.
Now, with these model drones making their rounds in North American, we’ve seen some good ol’ human ingenuity make for some memorable moments. Did you see the video that went viral last summer of an imaginative drone owner who strapped a GoPro to his and flew it through a fireworks show? The results were phenomenal.
If something like this interests you, DJI’s Phantom 2 Vision Plus QuadCopter Drone comes with a camera attached to it and can record for up to 20 minutes at a time.
What do I need to know to fly a drone in Canada?
First of all, you must be 18 years old to fly a drone in Canada. With heightened security worries over flying craft nowadays as well, you should be really careful where you’re flying, and exercise good judgment around where you’re setting up. Sure, that empty field may look tempting, but are you sure it isn’t near an airport, or airstrip where they’re keeping a constant look out on what’s flying around or near the airspace?
Transport Canada has an informative help page to clear up any questions you may have, including how far to fly away from people and airports. You may be surprised to know that they recommend that you not fly within 9 kilometers of an airport, for example. The website also contains information pertinent to the size and weight restrictions of your drones, as well as any relevant regulations that may apply to you or your aircraft. All of the drones sold on Best Buy’s websites fall well under the minimum weight restrictions, so chances are you won’t have to apply for any special permits if you leave everything the way it is out of the box.
Visit Transport Canada’s website for a breakdown of all of the restrictions and information you should know before purchasing and flying drones. Here’s a sneak peek of an infographic that appears on the site.
Lastly, remember to have fun since these drones are pretty amazing things to play around with. None of the restrictions you see are frankly that surprising, and most just require you to exercise good judgment and common sense.
Summer’s coming fast, and there’s no better time than the present to get your first drone, or upgrade what you have. A selection of drones are available now at Best Buy and online at BestBuy.ca. Enjoy, and fly responsibly.