Drone Laws (fly aware)
I recently handled a case that involved a person being charged with two felony crimes related to flying a drone. There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to drones and in my opinion the lack of information starts with the drone manufacturers.
Drones are sold with little or no documentation related to the laws that apply to flying them, so it is your responsibility to know and comply with the laws.
Do I need a license to fly a drone?
If you fly a drone commercially (accept money to fly one) yes you do. Even recreational drone pilots would benefit from having a remote pilot’s license, so if you fly regularly, I think it is a good idea to take the FAA drone pilot test.
Recreational drone pilots do not need a license but do have to pass a skills test and have proof of that with them, if it is requested by law enforcement. Recreational drones must fly below 400 feet (less in restricted airspace) and know and comply with other airspace restrictions. There are many airspace restrictions so please take time to study those.
What are the general airspace restrictions related to drones?
There are many types of airspace restrictions in the United States. Below is a list of common restrictions/no fly zones:
Stadiums and Sporting Events
Security Sensitive Airspace Restrictions
Restricted or Special Use Airspace
Emergency and Rescue Operations including: Wildfires and Hurricanes
A short list of rules to recreational drone pilots should follow:
- Register your drone, mark it on the outside with the registration number (PDF), and carry proof of registration with you.
- Fly only for recreational purposes.
- Fly your drone at or below 400 feet when in uncontrolled or “Class G” airspace. This is airspace where the FAA is not controlling manned air traffic. To determine what type of airspace you are in, refer to the mobile application that operates your drone (if so equipped) and/or use other drone-related mobile applications. Knowing your location and what airspace you’re in will also help you avoid interfering with other aircraft.
- Do NOT fly in controlled airspace (around and above many airports) unless:
- Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports.
- Never fly over groups of people, public events, or stadiums full of people.
- Never fly near emergencies such as any type of accident response, law enforcement activities, firefighting, or hurricane recovery efforts.
- Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Download the FAA APP
The FAA has released a helpful app that assists recreational drone pilots to determine whether the area they intend to fly has restrictions.
For more information on flying your drone lawfully, please visit the FAA website