Recreationalists interested in using drones this spring are required to take precautions when preparing to fly unmanned aircraft.

The Roanoke Regional Airport Commission is reminding hobbyists interested in flying drones to take safety measures before operating unmanned aircraft. With the help of a free app from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), drone operators can safely enjoy a growing recreational activity while possibly saving lives. With over 1 million drones purchased in 2016, more unmanned aircraft enthusiasts than ever are taking to the skies.

Drones are not allowed to be flown within a five-mile radius of an airport or landing pad. This includes the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport and the landing pad for Carilion Clinic Life-Guard helicopters in South Roanoke.

“Technology moves at a fast pace and the public needs to realize that a single drone could take down a passenger aircraft,” said Tim Bradshaw, AAAE, executive director, Roanoke Regional Airport Commission. “Thankfully, there is ongoing research regarding how manned and unmanned aircraft can coexist peacefully.”

The FAA app, B4UFLY, can help hobbyists identify a safe location to use the drone and provide other important information including maps and the capability to plan future flights. B4UFLY is available for free download in the App Store for iOS and Google Play store for Android. Up-to-date information regarding where you can and cannot operate a drone can also be found at: Unmanned aircraft can be registered at and guidelines can be located at: