With Christmas shopping in full swing, it is appropriate to remind everyone about the use of drones. St Helena Island has some of the most spectacular vistas and scenery found anywhere in the world, so it comes as no surprise that people want to take footage of the Island. Likewise, small toy quadcopters and drones are available in the local shops and may be given as Christmas presents this month. As such, it is important that all drone owners are aware of their legal obligations. These obligations apply to all types of drones, regardless of size, weight and purpose of flight; for example: a child’s toy drone or quadcopter used for fun, taking footage with a camera for personal use only, operations for commercial gain, research flights, or search & rescue.
Additional obligations are placed on equipment that is used to take still or video footage, as well as those that are used for research purposes, for commercial / financial gain, or for emergency services such as search and rescue.
The DRONE code
Regardless of the type of drone (toys or more sophisticated equipment) and purpose of flight, all users must comply with the DRONE code:
- Don’t fly unless you have permission from the Airport (yellow and red zones only)
- Remember to fly no higher than 120m (400ft) above ground level
- Observe your drone at all times – do not let it fly out of sight
- Never fly your drone dangerously or near to people, wildlife or property
- Ensure you understand your legal responsibilities.
The Island has been divided up into three zones to show where flights can be undertaken. The green zone requires no prior permission to conduct flights, and allows them to be undertaken wherever and whenever desired (except in a small area around a transmission site in Blue Hill). The yellow zone permits flights to be undertaken by any drone, but only with prior permission from the Airport. The red zone does not permit any drone flights to be undertaken at any time, except for research purposes and in emergencies e.g. search and rescue; however, permission to conduct those flights is still required from the Airport before they can commence.
More information and the drone zone map can be found on the St Helena Airport website at sthelenaairport.com/pilots/drone. If you already own a drone or if you are given one for Christmas, please ensure you understand your obligations to safety.
Enjoy your drone and have a safe flight!