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Rules of the air for beginning drone flyers

DartDrones offers ‘Santa Certified’ training for new owners

A DartDrones instructor leads a class in drone safety.DartDrones

If you're planning to buy someone a remote-controlled aircraft as a Christmas gift, Abby Speicher hopes you'll spend a little extra and buy some lessons too.

Speicher is founder of Woburn-based DartDrones, one of the few companies that offers flight training for drone pilots. Her company's "Santa Certified" program is offering lessons to new drone owners in 20 US cities, including Boston.

Santa Certified doesn't actually teach people how to fly, but when and where. It's a two-hour indoor course covering the Federal Aviation Administration's "rules of the road" for recreational drone use. The federal government has predicted that Americans will buy a million drones as holiday gifts this year.


"The FAA thinks of drones as airplanes and people need to be aware of the aviation laws," Speicher said.

For example, recreational drones are not to be flown higher than 400 feet and always within sight of the pilot; they must stay at least 5 miles from airports, and not come near power stations, prisons, government offices, or other sensitive sites; they shouldn't be flown over people or moving vehicles; and of course they're not to be operated under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The Santa Certified course costs $79, but customers who enter the coupon code "SantaCertified25" will pay just $54. Classes in the Boston area will be held Jan. 2, 16, and 30.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at hiawatha.bray@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeTechLab.