Tips for safe handling of drones in the mountains

Tips for safe handling of drones in the mountains

Photographs of turquoise mountain lakes and spectacular mountain ranges from an aerial view are among the most beautiful vacation memories. “For this reason, drones are increasingly found in backpacks while hiking,” says Benjamin Hetzendorfer, Drone Specialist at ÖAMTC Air Rescue.

“However, the drone of the aircraft can disturb and endanger other people, but also wild and grazing animals.” There are also some pitfalls, especially in the mountains, such as the gradient or the thinner air, which require special attention. Either way, you always need to fly with eye contact, even in the mountains, so you can see the drone’s position and intervene quickly in an emergency. It’s also important to keep enough distance from spectators so that they don’t feel uncomfortable.

Expert ÖAMTC has compiled the most important tips for the safe handling of drones – and to avoid violating legal provisions:

Watch the wind and weather:

At high altitudes, the air becomes thinner and the drone’s performance is correspondingly lower. Strong winds can also occur, which makes steering even more difficult. “Therefore, it is best to fly the drone only when the weather is good and visibility is clear,” recommends Hetzendorfer.

Expect other aviation participants:

Helicopters can appear unexpectedly in the mountains, but paragliders and gliders are also common here – so special care is required.

Be considerate of animals:

Grazing cattle or wild animals can be frightened off by drones. Birds react particularly sensitively to approaching drones during the breeding season, so you should stay completely away from protected areas. “Birds of prey, for example, get annoyed by drones and, in extreme cases, can even attack smaller aircraft,” says Hetzendorfer.

Comply with regional no-fly zones:

Drones are often banned from flying in nature reserves, national parks and bird sanctuaries if they interfere with nature and the landscape. “It is better to find out in advance the corresponding regional flight bans with the ÖAMTC drone information app, sometimes they are also marked by signals,” says the drone specialist from the ÖAMTC air rescue service.

Count on others:

Many nature lovers seek peace and relaxation in the Austrian mountains, as being disturbed by an unmanned aircraft is, of course, extremely unpleasant. In general, strangers can never be recorded against their will or the photos published.

On steep slopes, flight altitude is difficult to estimate and can change very quickly. Therefore, mountains are mostly synonymous with difficult terrain. “So you should train a lot and know exactly how your own drone behaves before taking off and landing on steep terrain,” advises Hetzendorfer. The maximum allowable flight altitude is 120 meters; above that, a special authorization from the aeronautical authority is required.

Don’t drink and fly:

Similar to driving a car, flying a drone under the influence of alcohol is also prohibited. “So if you intend to fly, you should definitely do so before your first beer in the cabin,” clarifies the drone expert.

The free ÖAMTC drone information app for Android and iOS offers all the important information as well as useful tips and tricks for a safe flying pleasure. More information can also be found at