Ok, so you’ve got yourself a drone and you’re ready to take it for a flight… Before you do that however you need to know that there are places where you can’t fly your drone.
Although this may feel restrictive, it’s actually for the common good. In this article we’ll take a look at a bunch of areas where flying drones is prohibited in the U.S, so that you can fly your drone safely (and legally).
Before we list the different no-drone zones in the U.S. we first have to define what they are first.
According to the FAA, "No Drone Zone" is a term used to help people identify areas where they cannot operate a drone. The operating restrictions for a No Drone Zone are specific to a particular location.
That’s basically the gist of it. Flying your drone in a no-drone zone can result in some repercussions, whether they’re just a slap on the wrist or serious will depend on the actual area where you flew your drone.
That’s probably the first thing that comes to mind when we speak of prohibitions or restrictions on drone use.
The FAA regulates drone use in the USA and only they have the authority to regulate drone use and enforce the laws regarding it. In fact, they’re the ones who created the drone laws in the first place.
So what happens if you fly your drone in restricted areas? You can expect a fine for sure, and possibly a temporary suspension of your drone. Should you fly in a restricted area and end up interfering with something important, expect more serious repercussions. In some cases, even jail time.
As promised we’ll look at some of the common no fly zones across most if not all US states.
All around the USA, airports are a strictly no-fly zone. Flying over an airport, or even close to it by 5 miles will result in some serious repercussions and could get you in trouble.
Airports are classified under restricted airspace, I’ve already gone in-depth about that in my previous article.
All of that being said, there is an exception. That exception being getting permission from the FAA to fly near an airport (not over it). Simply sign up in an app that allows you to request LAANC authorizations and ask for permission, the process is automated and most times instantaneous.
According to the FAA, Temporary Flight Restrictions define an airspace where air travel is limited for a specific period of time (hence why it’s called “temporary”).
This is usually done because of some major sporting event, a presidential movement or some security threat. You can check if your area is a TFR using the app B4UFLY.
Most, if not all national parks in the U.S. are off limits from drone pilots. The FAA takes this seriously and you’ll most likely get in trouble if you fly your drone over a national park and a park ranger spots it/you.
It’s a shame, since national parks make the best drone shots and films. There are cases where you can get special permission from the FAA to fly over parks, but if you’re not a company that needs to film there, I wouldn’t count on it.
Pretty much most if not all schools in the U.S. ban flying drones over them, unless it’s a school project or something sanctioned by the school.
The reason for that is obvious, you can’t have drones flying over kids…
Flying your drone within 15 miles of the white is not only strictly prohibited, but also a one-way ticket to jail. Homeland security takes this as a very serious offense, and the reasons for that are probably obvious.
The airspace over large sports events is also considered a no-fly zone. While it’s not the FAA that considers it as such but actually the local authorities, it’s still a rule that’s enforced by the FAA and you’ll get in trouble for flying over stadiums and such.
Drones have been used before to drop contraband into prisons and other correctional facilities. Because of that, the airspace over prisons in the U.S. is now considered a no-fly zone for drones.
I probably don’t need to include this as it should be evident, but military bases are also no-fly zones. There are some bases where drones aren’t prohibited but to stay on the safe side, just don’t fly over military areas.
So we’ve covered quite a few no-fly zones and I know it can be overwhelming to keep up with all of the details.
Luckily you don’t have to figure out what type of area you’re in yourself, there are apps that you can use and that will instantly tell you whether the area you’re in is OK for flights or not.
Topping the list are the two most popular apps, B4UFLY and Airmap.