Fair Weather Flyers

FAA Safety Briefing
Cleared for Takeoff
4 min readFeb 28, 2024



By Rebekah Waters, FAA Safety Briefing Magazine

After a long winter cooped up inside, most of us are itching to spend some time outside. Spring gives us more daylight and there is nothing better than the clear blue skies of a warm spring day. But spring weather is a fickle friend full of surprises. Before you take your drone outside, let’s take a look at how weather could affect your plans.

A silhouette of a drone flying in the sunset.

Weather is an important factor no matter what time of year you fly. Luckily, there are plenty of tools to help you plan before you fly. If your flight calls for a more comprehensive review, head to the National Weather Service’s Aviation Weather Center ( Most drone pilots usually only need a local view of the weather. For that, there are plenty of weather apps, like Windsock and AURA, devoted to drone pilots. But if you choose not to download one of these, make sure you at least check your local weather forecast for the latest information.

Fog or even light rain could impact your ability to maintain visual line of sight.

After deciding what weather tool to use, the next step is knowing what weather information you need. Weather that interferes with your ability to fly safely includes temperatures, which can impact battery life, precipitation, which can reduce visibility, and wind, which could affect control and stability of the flight. For a deep dive into how temperatures affect drone flying, read “How Cold is Too Cold to Drone On?” in the Nov/Dec 2023 issue of FAA Safety Briefing. During the spring, wind and rain are more likely culprits.

Unless you have a waiver, rule number one of drone flying is that you must be able to see your drone at all times — also known as maintaining visual line of sight. Fog or even light rain could impact your ability to do this and limit how far or how high you can operate. Visual line of sight isn’t the only consideration when it comes to fog and rain. If your drone isn’t waterproof, moisture could damage important components. Spring precipitation can occur suddenly, so always stay prepared, and check the forecast often.

Pilots know that crosswinds can make takeoff and landing in crewed aircraft particularly tricky. Strong winds can cause problems for drones too during any phase of flight. Maintaining control is crucial. Some drones have special safety features that help them fly better during windy conditions. Even if your drone has this feature, stay within your limits and never press your luck. A soft spring breeze can become a blustery gust with little warning. A sudden gust could easily exceed your drone’s relatively low top speed and render it uncontrollable/unrecoverable. When windy conditions occur, it’s best just to land as soon as it is safe to do so.

It’s always better to land safely and be able to fly again another day.

Bottom line: always be mindful of how weather could impact your flight plans. You may be disappointed when the weather threatens to keep you grounded. You might be tempted to keep flying even as you notice that weather conditions are worsening hoping that perhaps the clouds will part and the wind will die down. But if there is even the slightest chance that weather could make you lose control of your drone, why risk it? It’s always better to land safely and be able to fly again another day.

Rebekah Waters is an FAA Safety Briefing associate editor. She is a technical writer-editor in the FAA’s Flight Standards Service.

This article was originally published in the March/April 2024 issue of FAA Safety Briefing magazine.



FAA Safety Briefing
Cleared for Takeoff

Official FAA safety policy voice for general aviation. The magazine is part of the national FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam).