As more local residents fly drones for fun, DeKalb Peachtree Airport is warning them to follow some simple guidelines to avoid airplane crashes.

PDK hasn’t had any problems with drones in flight paths so far, said airport Interim Director Mario Evans. But, he said, the airport wants to be proactive with a warning because a drone “can potentially bring an aircraft down.”

“We [could] have a Cessna or a Learjet coming in at one inopportune time and a kid saying, ‘Let’s see how high this [drone] can go.’ It gets sucked into the engine, and that aircraft is coming down,” Evans said.

This week, PDK posted a new web page of guidelines for flying drones within 5 miles of the airport, which sits along Clairmont Road on the Brookhaven/Chamblee border. That 5-mile radius includes all of Brookhaven and parts of Buckhead, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, among other areas. The PDK website includes a map of the area.

The guidelines apply to hobbyists flying drones from their back yards or local parks. (Commercial drone use is subject to federal regulation.) PDK offers a variety of suggestions, but Evans said they boil down to these basics:

  • Hobbyists should fly drones that weigh no more than 55 pounds.
  • Fly the drones no more than 200 feet high. Since height is hard to judge, Evans said, a good rule of thumb is to keep the drone lower than nearby treetops.
  • Always keep the drone within visual range.
  • Watch for airplanes or other aircraft.
  • Ideally, notify PDK of any drone flights within the 5-mile radius.

The same guidelines apply to people who fly other types of remote-controlled small aircraft, such as radio-controlled model airplanes.

For more information, see the PDK web page at pdkairport.org/uas_drones.html or contact the airport at 770-936-5440 or PDKcomments@dekalbcountyga.gov.

In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration recently released a test version of a phone app with local information and alerts for drone users. For details, see faa.gov/uas/b4ufly.