Beginners Guide to Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Many roofing contractors and realtors want to use Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or drones, to see a project from a new angle, create video, or conduct a roof inspection. Whatever your business purposes, this guide will help you understand the rules of flying for commercial use without getting you into trouble.Register Your Unmanned Aircraft Systems


As of December 2015, all drones weighing more than .55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds are required to register them with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The registration fee is $5.

More than Personal Use

If you are choosing to use your drone for business purposes, rather than personal enjoyment, your aircraft must undergo an inspection to ensure it is safe for operation. You must be vetted by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), as well as pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center. This certification is good for two years. You can find more information regarding these specifications by clicking here. Businesses can request exemptions for the use of a UAS here.

FAA Rules For Flying

  • Business users must only fly UAS during daylight hours.
  • Do not fly over people
  • Do not fly a UAS out of a vehicle
  • You must keep a visual on your aircraft during flight.
  • Only fly in class G airspace. (During the day this is classified within 1 mile (1.6 km) from the ground.) For commercial use, this is qualified further by stating that you must not fly more than 400 ft. off the ground.
  • Give the right away to any manned aircrafts
  • Stay away from airports. For personal use the FAA regulates that you must notify an airport & air traffic control prior to flying within 5 miles of its location.
  • Fly under 100 mph. Sorry speed demons!

Additional flying safety tips

  • Low clouds in Soda Butte Valley; Jim Peaco; June 2015; Catalog #20185d; Original #IMG_3243Flying over prisons, stadiums, schools, and even a few churches can create an issue. You don’t want to get your UAS confiscated, so steer clear.
  • Check the weather before flying. It’s important to make sure that your UAS does not get knocked about or stuck while in use.
  • Wait until reviews are out to update your drone. In 2016, a system update was released for a very popular video filming UAS. Unfortunately, there was a glitch in gps system that sent many UAS’s to unknown areas while in flight, leaving the pilot with no idea where to look.
  • Practice in low population areas. There’s nothing worse than getting your UAS stuck while still learning to steer smoothly. Practicing in an area with less obstacles will increase your skills with less risk of harm to your equipment.
  • Know your battery life. Many people have had problems with not being aware how much power their UAS has left. This has caused many unwanted flights into water, high rocks, and even wildlife areas.
  • If you are unable to control the impending crash, turn your throttle down to zero. This can help protect you, others, and the propellers of your UAS.
  • For more safety tips check out

Tips for Taking Good Video and Pictures

  • Fly slowly. Nothing is worse than having a magical moment ruined by a jerky movement in the video. Going too fast also creates an issue for still shots, causing them to be blurry. Practice your movements to ensure they are smooth through each transition.
  • Cloudy days are best. Glare and overexposure can be a huge issue when trying to get good shots. Cloudy days allow for the sun to be behind its very own diffusion paper.
  • Shoot for the golden hour. Great warm looking video or photos can be captured right before the sun sets. This gets that warm glow on your subject without the dew from the morning sunrise.
  • Face the same direction that your UAS is looking. This will allow you to maneuver better, and get the shots you want from the right angles.
  • Program your shots. Many UAS’s such as the Solo, have the ability to pre-program the movements you want to make. This allows for specific movements in the exact places you want them.
  • Bracket your photos. This is where you set your camera to take multiple pictures on different settings for each shot you want. In your editing process, you can then take each photo and layer it on top of the other. This allows you to get the full effect of lighting and prevents your image from looking flat. For more information regarding bracketing and other photo tips click here.

The Fun Part – What to Shoot

Shooting photos and videos in the sky can be a challenge when working with a new perspective. Here’s a list of some great photo formats to use for your marketing purposes.

  • Create Dead SpaceCreate dead space for your text. If you are adding text to your photo, the background can become too distracting. Try to capture your image thinking about how you will be able to incorporate your text. This can mean capturing a shot where your focus is directed to the side, above, or below the area you want your text. Blurring out the background or having a large area of the same color can help to create this effect as well.
  • Shoot man-made objects. Some interesting shots and angles from the sky can give a unique perspective to things made by man. Haybales or a windmill can even be interesting from the sky.
  • Get close ups of details. When you have the opportunity to present a new angle or a more detailed view of something, people will take notice.
  • Include the entire subject. Cutting off part of your image or cropping during your filming or photographing can lead to regrets later. You can do all the sizing and editing you want later in your photo software. Get the full shot of your subject and edit what you want to keep later.