Droning in Texas

Droning in Texas


Federal law requires all recreational flyers to pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test. The FAA developed The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) to meet this requirement.


I’ve been working at a friends working ranch just outside of Kerrville Texas since February under what Apple calls a Temporary Remote Working Arrangement.

Several years ago I reached out to my buddy Michael Rollins with regards to drones as the ranch owner wanted to purchase one to perform random tasks on the property.

I met Michael way back in 2004-2005 or so playing World of Warcraft. Over the years we’ve become pretty good friends and one of his many hobbies has been flying and building drones.

Based on Michael’s recommendation a DJI Phanton 4 was purchased.

Drone Tasks

Some of the tasks that can be performed are:

  • surveying pastures
  • surveying fences
  • wildlife surveys
  • roof inspections

In pasture surveying, aerial technology lets ranchers easily map plant height, plant health, monitor weather damage as well as irrigation across their properties, so that they can take immediate action when issues arise. This will generally require additional 3rd party sensors and software.

Fencing is an area of ranching that frequently requires a lot of attention and upkeep. Previous to drone technology, workers would survey the perimeter of the ranch to ensure the fence was still intact. A broken fence causes issues like allowing animals to escape, providing easy access inside to hunters, or mixing livestock with neighbors. By using software features like Live Map, ranchers can pinpoint the affected areas before physically arriving with their tools. Not only does this cut down on time, but it’s also a more reliable method than out-of-date or cloudy satellite imagery.

Utilizing a drone for wildlife surveys is more accurate and consistent compared to alternatives like manned aviation or physically walking the property. One can fly lower than manned aviation to get higher quality images and be more transparent than a team physically walking around the property.

Drone Training and Use

As a recreational drone pilot you need to understand some basic rules and get certified by taking The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST).

TRUST stands for The Recreational UAS Safety Test. It provides education and testing for recreational drone flyers on important safety and regulatory information. If you fly your drone recreationally under the Exception for Recreational Flyers, you must pass the test before you fly. Federal law requires all recreational flyers to pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test. The FAA developed The Recreational UAS Safety Test to meet this requirement.

TRUST is free, can be taken online through a variety of FAA-approved test administrators, and typically takes 30 minutes or less to complete. After you pass the test, you will receive a completion certificate. Be sure to keep this certificate with you when you fly your drone, either in paper or electronic format. Test administrators will not keep a record of your completion certificate, therefore if you lose your certificate, you need re-take the TRUST.

The below organizations have all been approved by the FAA to administer the TRUST as of April 2022:

Basic Rules
  • you must fly your drone within visual line of sight
  • stay below 400ft altitude
  • stay at least 5 miles away from an airport that might have a Part 107 requirement
  • flight operations during daylight hours only.

There are also a few additional rules:

  • All drones must be registered, except those that weigh 0.55 pounds or less (less than 250 grams) and are flown exclusively under the Exception for Recreational Flyers.
  • Drones registered under part 107 may be flown for recreational purposes as well as under part 107.
  • Drones registered under the Exception for Recreational Flyers cannot be flown for Part 107 operations.

Because the DJI Phantom 4 weighs 1380 grams I needed to register the drone with the FAA.

How to Register
Information Needed to Register
  • Physical address and mailing address (if different from physical address)
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Make and model of your drone
  • Specific Remote ID serial number provided by the manufacturer (if applicable)
  • Credit or debit card
Registration Fees
  • Part 107 registration costs $5 per drone and is valid for three (3) years.
  • The Exception for Recreational Flyers registration costs $5 and is valid for three (3) years.
  • Once registered, drone registration cannot be transferred between types (part 107 or the Exception for Recreational Flyers).
Registration Requirements
  • 13 years of age or older (if the owner is less than 13 years of age, a person 13 years of age or older must register the drone)
  • A U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.
  • For foreign operators, FAA will consider the certificate issued to be a recognition of ownership rather than a certificate of U.S. aircraft registration.
After you Register

Once you register your drone, you will receive an FAA registration certificate. You must have your registration certificate (either a paper copy or digital copy) in your possession when you fly. If another individual operates your drone, they must have your drone registration certificate (either a paper or digital copy) in their possession. Federal law requires drone operators who are required to register, to show their certificate of registration to any Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer if asked.

Failure to register a drone that requires registration may result in regulatory and criminal penalties. The FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three (3) years.

The FAA requires that you mark all drones with your registration number before you fly them. Here is how to label your drone:

  • Must be maintained in a condition that is legible.
  • Must be affixed to the small unmanned aircraft by any means necessary to ensure that it will remain affixed for the duration of each operation.
  • Must be legibly displayed on an external surface of the small unmanned aircraft.


In conclusion the steps you need to take to safely operate your drone and remain within legal compliance isn’t all that hard to do.

Random Photos

Here are a few shots that I was able to get on my first few flights.

And here’s a video that Michael shot around my house and the in the HMB area about 5 years ago.