Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

“Drones,” “unmanned aerial systems (UAS),” or “unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)” represent the future. For both the professional and amateur operator, UAS are fun to fly, but also come with some very real responsibilities.

A collision between an aircraft and a UAS (even a small one) could result in an accident, and possibly result in loss of life. This is why all segments of the aviation industry are encouraging all UAS operators to become aware of their responsibilities.


Here are some guidelines for safe operation of a UAS:

Umanned Aerial Vehicle

Register Your UAV With the FAA

This is required by the FAA. View the FAA’s website for more information. As federal regulations on UAS are still evolving, it’s critical to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. Registration allows the FAA to provide UAS operators with new information as it becomes available.

Know Where the Airport is

It is the UAS operator’s responsibility to contact the airport and air traffic control tower any time you fly within 5 miles of an airport, with an Air Traffic Control Tower. View a map (PDF) showing the 5-mile radius from the center of the Muskegon County Airport.

The FAA has released an app “B4UFLY,” available for Apple devices that can be downloaded from the Apple App Store. B4UFLY tells users about current or upcoming requirements, pinpoints restricted airspace, and identifies areas where UAS operators may want to fly. A beta version of “B4UFLY” for Android devices can be downloaded from Google.

Plan Your Flights, & Make the Required Notifications

Operators must provide notice to the airport and the air traffic control tower if you plan to fly within the 5-mile radius of the Muskegon County Airport. Please have the following information available:

  • Name
  • Location of Operation
  • Phone Number (cell)
  • Closest Major Intersection
  • UAS Registration Number, Duration of Operations
  • Description of UAS (Weight/Type)
  • Maximum Operating Altitude
  • Proposed Date
  • Start Time and End Time
  • Purpose of flight
  • Airport (24-hr Cellphone): 231-206-3977 
  • Air Traffic Control Tower (Ops Line): 231-798-4761

Understand the FAA’s Authority

The FAA regulates all aspects of aviation in the United States, including UAS The FAA’s authority extends from licensing aviation professionals to operating the nation’s air traffic control system (ATC), responsible for safely separating all aircraft from each other when they fly, to regulating every aspect of airport operation. The airspace above your home, your business, or even the local park, is under the jurisdiction of the FAA (and not the County / Airport).

Just as pilots of aircraft carefully follow FAA regulations, so must UAS operators. UAS are a relatively recent phenomenon, and the FAA is still developing the rules they’ll use to determine how drones can safely share the same airspace as commercial, private, and military aircraft. Check the FAA’s website frequently for changes on how and where owners are allowed to legally fly UAVs.

Always Remember

  • Register your UAS.
  • Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles.
  • Keep the UAS within visual line of sight at all times.
  • Remain well clear of, and do not interfere with, manned aircraft operations.
  • Don’t fly within 5 miles of the airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying.
  • Don’t fly near people or stadiums.
  • Don’t fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 pounds.
  • Don’t be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft.

Useful Links

UAV Training in Muskegon