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City of Steamboat Springs NEWS

Posted on: March 27, 2018

What You Need To Know If You Fly A Drone

Drone Map 5.2 Miles.jpg
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expects the number of drone pilots to increase from 20,000 just two years ago to a range of 10 to 20 times as many by 2021. 

With the increased popularity and use of drones, Airport Manager Stacie Fain reminds drone operators to follow FAA regulations in Part 107 and 101, as well as other applicable FAA regulations in order to operate drones legally within the City of Steamboat Springs. 

All drones should be registered and operators should follow the FAA’s “Know Before You Fly” safety practices. Model Aircraft regulations mandate that all drone operators notify the Airport Manager if a drone is flying within 5 miles of any airport. Steamboat Springs Bob Adams field is 2.5 miles from downtown and 5.2 miles from the base of the ski resort. 

All drones must be operated no higher than 400 feet above the ground. Aircraft operating around the Steamboat Springs Airport are typically at 1,000 feet and below including several low level operators. 

For example, Classic Air Medical frequently flies its medevac helicopter along Lincoln Avenue between the airport and hospital landing pad at altitudes below 500 feet. Zephyr Helicopter also routinely flies low level missions near the downtown area. As a result, drone operators can pose a significant risk to the crew and passengers of those low flying aircraft. 

If a UAS (unmanned aircraft system) operator wishes to fly a drone within 5 miles of the airport, the Airport Manager must be notified at 970.879.1204 or 970.879.9042 at least 2 hours in advance. The following information should be provided to the Airport Manager:
  • Name
  • Cell phone number
  • Drone registration number
  • Drone flight plan
    • Location drone will be flying
    • When drone will fly (date and time duration)
    • How high drone will be flying 
The following outlines several FAA requirements, but not all, for operating a drone in a recreational or commercial manner: 

Recreational Operations
  • Must register with FAA & weigh less than 55 lbs. 
  • Remain lower than 400 feet
  • Remain in line of sight at all times
  • Never Fly Over 
    • Groups of People
    • Stadiums or sports events
    • Near emergency efforts such as wildfires
  • Must not fly under the influence
  • Must yield right of way to other aircraft and may never fly near aircraft. 
  • Must notify airport before flying within 5 miles of an airport.
Commercial Operations
  • Must have Remote Pilot Airman Certificate
  • Must be at least 16 years of age
  • Must pass TSA vetting process
  • UAS must weigh less than 55 lbs.
  • Must undergo pre-flight check for safe operating conditions
  • Must yield right-of-way to manned aircraft
  • Must keep UAS in line of sight at all times
  • Must remain under 400 feet and at or below 100 mph. 
  • Must not fly under the influence
  • Must notify airport before flying within 5 miles of an airport.

To report drone-related issues within the city, contact Routt County’s non-emergency dispatch center at 970.879.1110.  For additional information from the FAA on UAS operations, see

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Stacie Fain, Airport Manager, Steamboat Springs Airport, 970.879.9042,
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