South Dakota state defines drones as unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV), meaning they are remotely controlled. Thus, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are categorized as UAVs with communication links and sensing devices. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) enacts rules and guidelines that regulate all drone operations in South Dakota.
The diverse landscape and coastlines in South Dakota overflow with spectacular scenery. The State hosts some of the most dramatic, layered rocky terrains like the Badlands National park and Mount Rushmore. Rolling grassland prairies unfolding into the stunning Black Hills National Forest in the predominant Ponderosa pine awes visitors touring the area. Unfortunately, most of these sceneries are prohibited areas for drone flying.
Yes, you can fly a drone in South Dakota. The state permits drone operations for commercial and recreational purposes, subject to the FAA part 107 guidelines. The Federal USA agency broadly governs drones’ rules and regulations. However, the State and local jurisdictions have enacted supplementary laws.
The Federal government drafts drones laws that apply to all U.S states, South Dakota included. See the enumerated list of the laws:
Recreation drone operations in South Dakota are subject to FAA part 107 rules. One precise rule is to take the Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST). Following these guidelines will keep you and your drone safe and avail the airspace for other drone pilots. These guidelines include:
All drone activities for work or business in South Dakota are subject to the FAA part 107 guidelines. South Dakota’s Federal drone laws apply to commercial pilots but are subject to specific waivers for an extensive operation. Before flying, this is what you should know:
Familiarize yourself with the FAA part 107 guidelines, particularly drone operations regarding business or work. Although certain commercial operations are banned in FAA part 107 rules, you can request and receive waivers. These waivers include:
This is mandatory for all new drones. The registration process is online-based and simple. Check the FAA registration site and follow the prompts. Affix the given identification number on your drone before flying.
Take the Aeronautical Knowledge Test by FAA to earn a license and certificate for commercial flying. To be eligible for the test:
Two state-wide laws (SB 22, SB80) currently apply to drone operations in South Dakota. These two laws are under the South Dakota legislature and the Department of Transportation. They are:
According to this law, UAVs weighing less than 55lbs (25kgs) are exempt from aircraft registration rules.
This bill requires all UAS operations in South Dakota to comply with FAA rules and regulations strictly. The only exception is drone operations under the authority of the United States armed forces, including the National Guard.
This law prohibits drone operations over military and correctional facilities. Intentional violation of this rule results in a Class 1 misdemeanor. The use of unmanned aircraft to transport contrabands and correctional facilities attracts a class 6 felony.
The bill amends illegal surveillance crime to include the use of drones with lewd intentions on private property individuals with a reasonable expectation of privacy. Additionally, no UAV should land on private property without written consent from the landowner. Otherwise, it’s a felonious offense.
The only exception of the above laws applies to authorized law enforcement agencies engaged in their duty. For instance, a designated emergency officer conducting rescue operations.
Various counties and cities in South Dakota operate under different jurisdictions thus, varying restrictions. Consult with the local authorities before flying to avoid breaking any drone laws. Here is one example of a specific law that applies only to Aberdeen city:
Only recreational or hobby drone flying is allowed in the city airspace under this ordinance and only when it’s safe. Restricted areas are within one mile (5,280ft) of the city’s regional airport and within a 10,000ft non-precision approach to the airport’s runways.
You will face the consequences from the FAA depending on the extent of the violation. The penalties differ:
This is a Class G uncontrolled airspace, meaning you can freely fly your drone but adhere to the FAA guidelines. The site offers interesting footage like the historical 6-ton concrete structure established in 1959 and the 12ft Mascot stands. Filming on different angles gives you a posterity of the local history.
Adventurous pilots will love this large Sioux river that spills over a sequence of rock faces in Fall Park, including an observation tower and the 19th century Queen Bee Mill ruins. The 50ft quartzite cliff at Palisades State Park is ideal for rock climbing enthusiasts and a perfect nature shot for drone pilots.
This is a drone-friendly zone in the city of Aberdeen with amazing views. Best known for its 25ft-tall nature trail, the Baird park is a class G uncontrolled airspace. Feel free to take fitness footage as many locals enjoy walks and run along the trails.
First, you cannot shoot the drones over your property as they are subject to protection under the National Transportation Safety board. Notify the drone operator of the inconvenience and that you don’t want drones over your property. Take legal action by reporting to the police if the actions persist.
Yes, you do. Whether flying for business or fun, the FAA requires you to register your drone, pass the specific tests and earn a certificate and license before flying. Aeronautical Knowledge Test for commercial pilots and TRUST test for hobbyists.
If within South Dakota State, call the police and report the exact type of activity going on. The police will liaise with the FAA to hold the offender accountable for their actions.
First, airports are restricted zones. The closer you can get to flying a drone near an airport is five miles away. The five miles away rule applies to other state-restricted zones.
Yes, you must have your registration certificate from the FAA each time you’re planning to fly a drone. Otherwise, you might land in trouble if a state or local officer asks for it and the proof lacks.
There you have it – everything you need to know about flying drones over South Dakota. Be sure to read and understand the FAA Regulations before taking your drone out for a spin in this beautiful state. Remember to always fly safe and have fun!