Unmanned aerial vehicles: A crash course (Chad Colby)

Posted on February 24, 2015 in Forage Foundations

Click here to download Colby’s PowerPoint presentation.

With Chad Colby, AgTechTalk.com
Drones have become a popular subject in mass media, but are still new on the minds of custom harvesters and producers. Chad Colby of AgTechTalk.com got down to the nitty-gritty details and regulations at the recent Vita Plus Custom Harvester Meeting.

Colby said, according to today’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hobby regulations, if you use drone technology, you are a hobbyist.

According to those regulations as they stand today, you should not use drones for hire and you should not make any decisions with the data you get from the use of your drone.

Colby warned that, if you fly a drone, people are going to ask you questions and you are going to have to be smart enough to respond. Colby advises following the below guidelines for smart drone procedure:


  • Fly a model aircraft with a club.
  • Take lessons and learn to fly safely.
  • Contact the airport or control tower when flying within five miles of an airport.
  • Fly a model aircraft for personal enjoyment.


  • Fly near manned aircraft.
  • Fly beyond line of sight of the operator.
  • Fly above a 400-foot max ceiling.
  • Fly an aircraft weighing more than 55 pounds.
  • Fly a model aircraft for payment or commercial purposes.

“If you pay somebody to fly or somebody pays you to fly, good luck. That is absolutely off-limits. You can’t do that now. Don’t get involved. Don’t go down that road,” emphasized Colby.  “I’m not here to scare you. I’m here to tell you about the real world of drones and that’s important.”

When you decide to fly, make sure you have permission to fly in all areas you want to go. Specific privacy regulations are in place in certain counties, cities and states.

Colby noted, if it’s a normal day, you can see about a half to three-quarters of a mile away. You can’t use binoculars or other technology to see your ship. You must be able to see it with your eyes. 

“When it’s your $2,000 or $3,000 out there flying, you’re going to want to see it,” Colby stated.

Guides for a safe flight

  • Check your operating site for any hazards, power lines, trees, etc.
  • Check the weather.
  • Confirm your batteries are charged.
  • Visually check your ship for cracks, fractures and other damage.
  • Communicate with others before you start flying.
  • Check local laws and regulations.

While Colby could have gone into more detail about the guides to a safe flight, he said he recommends learning your local policies and regulations and start by taking things slowly.

Visit Chad Colby’s website for more information or to take a class with him.

Category: Equipment
Forage Foundations
Technology and data management