Before you buy and/or fly a drone, make sure to check out the flying rules in your area. The Manassas Regional Airport is in the Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA). This means that within five nautical miles of the airport, you will need a Certificate of Authorization (COA) from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly a drone or model airplane in this airspace.

The Washington flight restricted zone consists of two restricted airspaces: the SFRA and the Flight Restriction Zone (FRZ).

The FAA designates these areas as national defense airspace. Much of Northern Virginia is in this airspace, so please be sure to check the rules before purchasing or operating a model airplane or a drone.

If you are operating a model aircraft or drone outside the Manassas Regional Airport airspace the FRZ and the SFRA, the FAA has the following guidelines:

• Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles;

• Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times;

• Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations;

• Don't fly within five miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying;

o Don't fly near people or stadiums;

o Don't fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 pounds;

o Don't be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft.

For more information, visit www.manassascity.org/drone.

Manassas airports saves canine handler course

When a group of canine handlers lost their training space, the Manassas Regional Airport and Dulles Aviation saved the day.

On Monday, Nov. 2, Sgt. Ari Elkin from the Montgomery County Police Department recently reached out to Manassas Regional Airport Director Juan Rivera to investigate possible sites for its three-week long detection course beginning the next day.

The course trains law enforcement canine handlers on how to train other handlers and dogs in their respective agencies. Agencies from all over Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. are participating.

Funding for the three-week course was acquired from a grant through the Council of Governments and has been planned for more than a year. A day before the event, their pre-arranged location fell through and there was no money available for space rental.

Rivera had several ideas for the group and introduced Ari Elkin to Joe Gardner, president of Dulles Aviation. In less than 24 hours he provided both indoor and outdoor space for the group for the next three weeks.

“This is our way of giving back to the community,” Gardner said. “We’ve been at the Manassas Regional Airport for 37 years and it feels good to give back.”

“We are just happy we could help out,” Rivera said.

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