If you want to buy a drone for photography and recreational use, then it is highly recommended that you learn about all the rules and regulations first. It would be a real bummer if you spend all the money you have saved up on your favorite drone only to find out that your chances of flying it are severely limited. What are the drone flying laws? What are the no-fly zones? Do you need to get a permit or register? Read on to find out.
Rules and Regulations
If you want to fly a drone for photography, then there’s good news: The Federal Aviation Administration does not have a lot of rules in place for small, non-commercial drones that weigh less than 55 pounds. Following are the guidelines for these drones as seen on the FAA’s website:
- Fly the drone below 400 feet.
- Be aware of the airspace restrictions and requirements.
- Keep the drone within your sight.
- Stay away from the surrounding obstacles.
- Never fly the drone near emergency response efforts e.g. fires.
- Never fly the drone over stadiums or sports events.
- Never fly the drone over a group of people.
- Never fly the drone near other aircraft, particularly near airports.
- Never fly the drone under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The no. 1 place you cannot fly a drone near in the United States is an airport. If you want to fly a drone without notifying the control tower of your activity, then you must be at least five miles away from the airport. If you plan to fly closer than that, then you must notify the air traffic control tower or airport operator.
Launching, operating, or landing drones is prohibited on waters and lands administered by the National Park Service. You can find more information about the parks and their no-fly zones on their website. Other prohibited areas include Camp David, the White House, as well as most military installations.
Before you fly a drone in high-security areas such as Washington DC, it is recommended that you check with the controlling agency and/or secret service first. Usually, drones are not allowed in such areas.
Lastly, flying a drone is prohibited within a radius of three miles of a venue or stadium, but only starting one hour before and ending on hour after the scheduled time of these specific events: Champ Series, Indy Car, NASCAR Spring Cup, NCAA Division One Football, NFL, and MLB.
Permits and Registration
You only need a permission to fly a photography/recreational drone in the United States if you plan to operate it in a restricted airspace. If you want to fly over private property, then FAA recommends that you check and follow the local ordinances and laws beforehand.
Apart from this, a presidential bill was signed about a year ago that requires photography drone pilots in the States to register their drones with the FAA if they weigh between 0.55 lbs. and 55 lbs. Previously, a similar rule was overturned by the federal appeals court, but once the act is passed the original rules and regulations will apply.