No drones on Oahu, for now - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

No drones on Oahu, for now

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Drone popularity is, well, soaring.

"If you type in ‘what I want for Christmas' on Google, the number one result, almost number one, maybe 2-3, would be a drone or UAV" said local enthusiast Estin Ma.

The FAA is aware of this too. Just before the holidays, it launched an awareness campaign.

Recreational guidelines such as a 400 foot flight ceiling and a 5-mile barrier from airports are meant to keep air space as uncluttered as possible. Fortunately enough, manufacturers are putting some of the responsibility on their shoulders.

"Most newer models are coming out with built-in fail safes" said Ma.

Internal telemetry lets the drone know where it is in space---even if the pilot doesn't. Software will override manual controls to ensure a pilot doesn't enter restricted airspace.

"If you were to fly towards the airport from Moanalua, you'd hit an invisible wall, and it would not fly past that" Ma said.

New users also need to be aware of temporary FAA restrictions---like the one for Oahu right now.

"Unfortunately, because Obama is in town, there is a NOTAM. Basically it's a no-fly order put out by the FAA and the Secret Service, so you're kinda outta luck until Obama leaves" said Ma.

The First Family is vacationing on Oahu through January 4th.

For a link to the order, click HERE

For more on the FAA's awareness campaign, click HERE

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