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CLEVELAND – Lonnie King of Westlake is in flight school, just five hours away from becoming a pilot so he can fly drones commercially.

“I used to fly drones recreationally.  But now I do it for still photography and aerial video,” said King.

And while King follows the current rules concerning drones set by the Federal Aviation Administration, he says there are plenty of people who don’t.

“Right now, the rules are stay five nautical miles away from an airport.  Most people don’t know how long a nautical mile is.  So they just go out there with a toy and some of them can go pretty far and pretty high,” said King.

Monday afternoon, the FAA says a drone was spotted at approximately 500 to 1,000 feet, less than a mile away from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

They immediately made the airport aware of the situation, who in turn called the local police and the FBI.

“Know the rules before you fly.  They are pushing out good information getting people educated on the rules,” said King.

The FAA says they include:

  • Fly below 400 feet
  • Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
  • Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
  • Don’t fly near people or stadiums

According to the FAA, anyone who operates an unmanned aircraft in a manner that poses a hazard to manned aircraft may be subject to fines and jail time.

“It’s an eye-opening experience now because being a pilot, I can see the dangers,” said King.

Right now, the FAA is currently pursuing legislation that would require owners to register their drones with the Transportation Security Administration.