Academic Safety Code for Small Airborne Objects on Institutional Property
The SAO Safety Code was developed by researchers in science and engineering from colleges and universities across the United States. The code promotes safety and protects privacy by limiting Small Airborne Objects (SAOs) to low altitudes on institutional property with proper oversight and accountability. It is intended to guide non-commercial teaching and research activities as well as the common recreational uses of model aircraft, kites, and other SAOs on college and university campuses.

New FAA rules, especially FAR Part 107, now facilitate the use of unmanned aircraft for teaching and research. The FAA has also clarified how model aircraft can be used for education. This web site will soon be updated to reflect these positive developments.

Download the SAO Safety Code here
Frequently Asked Questions here

Developed and endorsed by (listed alphabetically):
Ella Atkins, Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan
Jon Caris, Director Spatial Analysis Lab, Smith College
Philippe Cohen, Director Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, Stanford University
Mark Friedl, Earth and Environment Department, Boston University
Benjamin Heumann, Geography Dept., Director Center for GIS, Central Michigan University
Steve Klostermann, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
Jack Langelaan, Department of Aerospace Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
Thomas Mueller, Department of Earth Sciences, California University of Pennsylvania
Robert Newton, Geosciences Department, Smith College
Andrew Richardson, Organismic & Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
Paul Voss, Picker Engineering Program, Smith College
Peter Washabaugh, Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan

For more information, please contact us at

Disclaimer: The SAO Safety Code is based on information from a diverse range of sources including federal regulations, advisories, aviation statutes, court decisions, and reasonable common-law expectations of privacy and property rights. However, no safety code can eliminate all possible hazards of any activity. The safe and responsible use of SAOs is therefore the sole responsibility of the institution, its employees, and students. Any incident in which an SAO causes an injury or property damage, or interferes with any manned aircraft, or in any other way compromises public safety would be considered to be a violation of the SAO Safety Code. The authors and endorsees make no warranties or representations, either expressed or implied, about the SAO Safety Code or its content or about the accuracy or currency of any information therein. Users are hereby notified that by adopting the SAO Safety Code, the user assumes any and all risk, including that information and content contained in the SAO Safety Code may be inaccurate, out-of-date, incomplete, and/or may not ensure compliance with federal, state, and local laws. The SAO Safety Code and this web site are subject to change without prior notice. None of the material, information, or content in the SAO Safety Code or on this web site shall serve as or create a contract between the authors, endorsees, or their institutions and any person or entity. The endorsers listed here are named in their individual capacities; institutional affiliation is given for informational purposes only and does not necessarily indicate the support or endorsement of the institution as a whole.

Photo credits: 1) S. Frohlich 2) J. Hupy 3) P. Voss 4) E. Atkins 5) J. Caris 6) AggieAir