The popularity of drones is exploding across the country and if you are going to fly a drone in Colorado here are 15 things you need to know.

The FAA says there are currently about 2.5 million drones flying the friendly skies in the United States, and it expects that number to more than double to 7 million by the year 2020. About 75% of the drones filling the air are being flown by hobbyists - people like you and me who are just doing it for fun.

But, flying a drone requires a certain amount of accountability and responsibility. There are some rules and guidelines in place to govern the proper use of drones - some of which are specific to Colorado -so before you fly, be sure you are informed.

  • 1

    The Sky is Not the Limit

    Drones must be flown below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles.

  • 2

    Out of the Wilderness

    Drones can not take off from, land in, or be operated from and congressionally designated wilderness area. These places provide opportunities for quiet and solitude, and a drone is an invasion of this purpose.

  • 3

    Weight Limit

    A drone, including anything it may be carrying, can not weigh more than 55 pounds.

  • 4

    Leave the Wildlife Alone

    You should never intentionally disturb animals during breeding, nesting, rearing of young, or any other life history function. These efforts would need to be approved as research or management. Stressing wildlife can cause harm and even death.

  • 5

    Keeping Your Distance

    Launching of drones should be at least 100 meters from any wildlife, and drones should never try to approach birds vertically - as tempting as that might be.

  • 6

    No Airport Flying

    Drones need to be kept at least five miles from an airport or back county airstrip.

  • 7

    Learn How to Fly

    It is a good idea to take some lessons and learn how to fly your drone safely. It will help keep you out of trouble, save you from damaging your aircraft, and will help keep you from damaging property or injuring others.

  • 8

    Stay Away From Restricted Areas

    Drone hobbyists should keep their aircraft away from areas that have Temporary Flight Restrictions - such as a wildfire.

  • 9

    Stay Away From People

    Drones should be kept away from populated and noise-sensitive areas like campgrounds, trailheads, and visitor centers.

  • 10

    Don't Lose Sight

    Be sure to keep your drone in sight at all times.That will help ensure your safety, the safety of others, and the well-being of your craft.

  • 11

    Probably Not Around Ski Resorts

    Mountain footage is great, but several ski resorts in Colorado have enacted bans on the use of drones.

  • 12

    Ask Telluride

    The town of Telluride has a special ordinance which requires flyers to have permission from private property owners, and in some cases the town of Telluride itself.

  • 13

    Get It Registered

    If you're going to fly a drone,  you have to get it registered with the FAA. Anytime you are flying, you need to have your certificate of registration with you.

  • 14

    Stay Away From Jails

    It may work in the movies, but it is against the law to fly a drone in the airspace above a jail or prison.

  • 15

    Obey Privacy Laws

    Colorado law specifically prohibits the use of an unmanned craft to "observe, record, transmit, or capture images of another person when the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.