What Do Drones Look Like At Night: An Important Guide

What Do Drones Look Like At Night
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The drone era has begun. Nowadays, drones are widely used for commercial purposes as well as for leisure. Aside from its functionalities, drones also pose threats to people. Are you aware when a drone is spying you? What do drones look like at night?

These kinds of questions lead to the debate and confusion among everybody. On the other hand, they also lead to questions such as, “How to fly a drone at night?” and “What are the techniques to take stunning shots at night?”

A drone is a remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicle equipped with cameras, GPS, packages, and other tools. Drones come in different sizes and shapes, each of which works for a specific purpose such as shooting aerial shots, monitoring agriculture, delivering packages, transporting weapons, and more. Today, more and more people fly drones for leisure purposes.

This article is an important guide on flying drones such as the federal regulations, tips on controlling drones, how drones look like at night, and technique on how to fly drones at night.

What Do Drones Look Like At Night?

The UFOs that people claimed they had seen in the past might have been the drones controlled by the federal agencies and military. When you come to think of it, they actually do look like UFOs at night. The only difference is that today, people are more aware that they are indeed drones.

In line with this, many ask if it is safe to fly drones at night. As a drone enthusiast, you don’t have to get a license to fly drones during the nighttime. However, you need to follow basic safety rules issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Follow these rules, and you will not have any trouble with the law and prevent your drone from crashing at the same time.

Safety Rules in Flying Drones at Night

  1. Fly drones for recreational purposes only
  2. Fly within the visual line of sight
  3. Abide with the community safety guidelines on flying drones
  4. Give way to manned aircrafts
  5. The drone should not weigh more than 55 pounds unless approved by a community-based organization
  6. When flying five miles within an airport, notify the airport authorities or air traffic control before flying the drone

Flying Drones at Night for Commercial Purposes

When you fly drones at night for commercial purposes, you need to get a license or remote pilot airman certificate. If you don’t have it yet, you can fly it with a supervisor who has this particular license. The basic requirement to qualify for the license is you need to be at least 16 years old.

There are two ways to get the remote pilot airman certificate:

  1. Pass the aeronautical knowledge test conducted at any testing center that is authorized by the FAA.
  2. When you already have the Part 61 pilot certificate on hand, perform a flight test within 24 months thereafter and pass the UAS online training course ran by the FAA.
  3. When you get the certificate, apply a night waiver at the FAA

How to Fly Drones at Night?

Flying a drone at night is more challenging than doing so during the daytime. It is difficult to see things in the dark and avoid the potential obstacles that the drone might crash into. Observe the following guides to help you fly your drone at night without crashing it and prevent accidents.

Know the Area

The first basic technique when flying a drone at night is to get familiar with the area. You can do this by observing it during the day, flying the drone in the area while the sun is still up, or passing by it regularly. Knowing the area really helps in that doing so will allow you to know where the trees, buildings, and power lines are without relying much on the light.

Be Mindful of Your Surroundings

The second thing that you should keep in mind when flying drones at night is to be aware of your surroundings. You might have already heard it from your parents, and it also applies to flying drones.

There are times when you might get deeply engaged at the aerial shots on your phone or get too focused on the direction of your drone that you become unaware of your surroundings. Be mindful when someone is coming up to you, or you are already going to the highway.

During the nighttime, you should be even more aware at your surroundings. It is sketchy outside and more dangerous. The best thing to do is to have someone watch over you while you fly your drone.

Do Not Use the ND Filter

The ND filter of the drone provides a clear, more saturated image when shooting during the daytime. Obviously, you do not need it during the night. Using ND filter at night causes a lot of accidents and dark shots. So, before you fly out your drone, make sure that you have already removed the filter or better yet, leave it at home.

Fly at 300 Feet Altitude

When flying drone at night, do it with increased altitude, probably around 300 feet. This altitude is safe enough to get the drone from point A to point B while preventing any obstacles that are present at a lower altitude.

It might be an over-estimation, but this is the so-called sweet spot by many drone enthusiasts. The 400 feet altitude is already the FAA limit, while there might be trees or buildings at 200 feet altitude.

Turn On the LED Lights of the Drone

It is hard to monitor your drone during the night and where it is going. The best thing that you can do is simply to monitor that LED light attached to the drone. However, when you take shots, turn off the front LED lights to avoid that odd funky red glow in the images.

How to Take Beautiful Shots with Drones at Night

Here is a bonus section for photography enthusiasts. We know a lot of people use drones to take beautiful shots, but it is more challenging to do it during the night.

The first thing to do when taking shots during the night is to reduce the ISO value and increase the shutter speed. One good example of a drone camera setting at night is ISO 100 at 16-second shutter speed.

Final Words

Flying drones at night is an awesome experience because it allows you to take stunning shots. However, it comes with certain regulations that every drone flyer should follow. Whether you fly drones for leisure or commercial purposes, you need to do it responsibly to avoid any accident.

Now that you know the basic things on how to fly drones at night, as well as what do drones look like at night, all you have to do it wait for the sun to set and start practicing. Observe the safety guidelines and have fun!


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