Flying your drone should always be done within the drone bebouwde kom and with the sense and responsibility. You have to remember that you cannot just fly your drone anywhere and anytime that you please. Before getting your drone airborne it is important to check that you are not violating any regulations, offending people around you, or not breaking any laws. If you are not aware, there is a Drone Code that is also available online, and it would be smart and responsible to go through it.

Section 4 of the United Kingdom’s Drone Code is specific to the correct distance that you should maintain from people and property when flying.

The Drone Code states that the right distance from people and properties will be 150 feet
(50 meters), while a safe distance of 500 feet (150 meters) should be maintained for crowds and drone bebouwde kom.

The second premise has always sparked confusion and questions among pilots because there was no clear definition of what warrants a crowd and what qualifies as a built-up area.

The question of “Is 50 people defined as a crowd?” or “What constitutes a built-up area?’ are all valid queries.

To get definite answers, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was tapped for some clarifications.

Apparently, as drone users, you should have good judgment of the definition of both concepts because the park might not be as crowded on a Tuesday morning when compared to a Sunday afternoon. The Drone Code cannot specifically indicate the park as an example of a crowded area because there are times and situations where it is acceptable and safe to fly your drone there.

Additionally, the same logic of better judgment is required when it comes to a built-up area. A village might not qualify as one, but a city might. An empty football field is not a built-up area today, but tomorrow, it just might qualify especially if there is an ongoing game.

The interpretation of the crowd and built-up area requires you to apply common sense and smart decision-making skills.  

Regardless of whether the CAA was able to or not establish definite answers for these, there are guidelines that you can take to heart to ensure that you are flying responsibly and safely and having fun.

  1. Always have a clear sight of your drone – you should have 100% visibility of your drone so you can see and avoid things as needed while flying. Open spaces are recommended without trees, buildings, and other obstructions that can cause you to lose sight of your drone even if just for a few seconds—eyes on the drone at all times.
  2. Know the acceptable altitude – no drones should exceed an altitude of 400 feet. This can cause conflict to other manned aerial vehicles and this is considered illegal. Usually, you can fly within 50 meters of vehicles, people, and structures except as long as the drone is in your control. This is a good review of your Drone Code, Section 4:  the correct distance from people and properties will be 150 feet (50 meters), and you need to keep a safe distance of 500 feet (150 meters) for crowds built-up areas.
  3. Fly in the correct airspace – you cannot fly a drone within an airport's Flight Restricted  Zone without securing permission from the Air Traffic Control. You will face serious violations when you fly your drone less than 1 kilometer from an airport or an airfield boundary. This is against the law. To be sure, steer clear from the airport perimeter at all costs because you can end up with a prison term of five years or more if your drone accidently endangers the safety of an aircraft and its passengers. This is considered a criminal offense.
  4. Take accountability – every drone you fly, and every flight that it takes is your complete resistibility.  It is your responsibility to fly sensibly. You are the pilot, and you have control over your drone's flight and actions. Note that failure to do so may result in criminal prosecution.

       5.Be knowledgeable of your drone – be proactive in learning more about your drone and how it works. Knowing as much info as possible about how to fly it, tricks you can do, and ways to be better at flying it is key.

Flying a drone is a continuous learning process but at the same time exciting and exhilarating too. Sure, the controls will not change. It will always be the same drone, but the circumstances of your flight will always be unique. So, always be aware of and pay heed to all applicable regulations governing drone flying in the drone bebouwde kom.