West Virginia is a state located in the Appalachian region of the Southern United States. It is bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the north (and, slightly, east), and Maryland to the northeast. West Virginia is the 41st largest by area (24,230 square miles) and the 38th most populous (1,850,000 people) of the 50 United States. The capital and largest city is Charleston. The state is noted for its mountains and rolling hills, its historically significant logging and coal mining industries, and its political and labor history. It is one of the most densely karstic areas in the world, making it a choice area for recreational caving and scientific research. The karst lands contribute to much of the state’s cool trout waters. It is also known for a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities, including skiing, whitewater rafting, fishing, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and hunting. Drone flying is an also an activity that can be seen a lot in Virginia. Starting December 21st, 2015, drone registration is mandatory.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced that all units weighing between 0.55 pounds and 50 pounds must be registered by February 19th, 2016. Anyone caught flying without proper registration after that date could face stiff penalties. The FAA says civil penalties include a fine of up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years in jail.
- Unmanned flying machines that are operated outside have “a maximum takeoff weight” of anywhere between 250 grams and 55 pounds are required to register.
- Each owner would get a single registration number so if he or she has multiple drones, they don’t all need to be registered individually.
- Users don’t need to be registered to purchase a drone, but they do have to be registered before they start flying it.
- Name and street address are required to register, but the serial number of the drone, owner mailing address, phone number and email are all optional.
- You have to be 13 years old or older to register.
- The FAA doesn’t require information about citizenship or residency to register.
- Registration is free.
- The registration system will live online and likely be accessible through an app as well. There will also be an API component that would allow for the creation of custom apps that could work in concert with the database.
- Owners will receive an electronic copy of their registration certificate but a paper copy will also be available. The e-certificate will have the owner’s name, FAA registration number, a confirmation link and the drone serial number if it was included in the registration form. Operators would need to have the certificate on hand while using the drone in the event of an inspection.
- The FAA-issued registration number must be visible on the drone.
- GO TO THE REGISTRATION PAGE HERE.
- You must provide your complete name, physical address, mailing address, and an email address. The email address will be used as your login ID when you set up your account.
- Pay fee of $5 to FAA.
- You will receive a unique registration number that applies to any and all UAS that you own. You must mark all of your UAS with the unique registration number before operating. A registration certificate that contains the unique FAA registration number, the issue and expiration dates, and the name of the certificate holder will be sent to your email address immediately.
West Virginia Drone Rules:
- Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible.
- Fly within visual line of sight.
- Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations, and you must see and avoid other aircraft and obstacles at all times.
- It is forbidden to use drones for hunting.
- Do not fly near emergency response efforts, like fires.
- Do not fly for payment or commercial purpose.
- Do not fly over groups of people.
- Do not fly in adverse weather conditions such as in high winds or reduced visibility.
- Do not fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Do not fly over stadiums and sports events.
- Do not be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft.
- It is illegal to take photos or record videos of people on private property.
- Do not use a drone to gather, store or collect evidence of any type.
- Do not fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.
- Do not fly near or over sensitive infrastructures such as power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.
- Contact the airport or control tower before flying within five miles of an airport.
West Virginia Special Drone Laws:
- Kentucky Drone Registration
- Maryland Drone Registration
- Ohio Drone Registration
- Pennsylvania Drone Registration
- Virginia Drone Registration