Drones flying off the shelves for Father's Day

Posted at 4:34 AM, Jun 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-15 10:00:03-04

This Father’s Day you may be considering something other than a tie for one of the most important men in your life.

For the techie dad, the latest fad is drones.

“It kind of surprised me how easy it was to fly,” explained Kevin Beckwith, moonlight drone-operator, full-time attorney. "It's like being able to fly without actually having an airplane."

These days he spends most of his evenings bringing out a silver case with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) inside of it.

"My dad was a pilot, and I kinda grew up in the backseat of a four-passenger airplane,” explained Beckwith.

That’s where his love for flying began – something he and his wife Suzanne Beckwith share.

"She was asking me what I want for Christmas and I was joking and said, ‘Oh I want a drone,’" said Beckwith.

He and his wife are both pilots and at one point owned a share in an airplane. With every day normal life and children, that is no longer possible, but the drone is the next best thing.

"He's kind of hard to buy for and shirts and ties are boring,” explained Suzanne Beckwith.

They use it to survey their land and when they burn fields to keep the soil rich, they like to use it to make sure the flames are out.

"I thought it would be a good idea because it has a camera and you can shoot down and fly over the property and see if anybody is squatting on your ground,” said Beckwith.

More and more people are finding them fun or useful. In 2016, 325,000 drones were registered. By 2020, companies expect to sell more than 7 million in the U.S.

"It's unbelievable the number of people who have them and want them,” explained Greg Sawyer, drone expert and worker at Hobby Haven in Overland Park. 

He’s seen the UAVs fly off the shelves.

Here’s what you need to know as a drone operator:

  • Label your UAV with your registration number.
  • Make sure you have permission to fly wherever you are.
  • Fly it below 400 feet, within eyesight and never by an airport or plane.
  • Stay away from groups of people, stadiums and first responders.
  • Many drones have tracking devices or GPS built in that will not allow a drone to fly in restricted areas.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in May drone hobbyists no longer have to register their drones because the rule violates the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which Congress passed in 2012.

Drone hobbyists used to have to register their drones with the FAA if the drone weighed between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds.

You must register drones that are used commercially.

Attorneys told 41 Action News if your drone crashes, you will be responsible for any damage or injuries it may cause.