Can I Fly a Drone in a Public Park? – Your Question Answered

Find out if you can fly your drone in public parks and what laws apply in the article below
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Last updatedLast updated: January 08, 2024
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Can I Fly a Drone in a Public Park? Can I fly a drone in a public park? You should make it a habit to ask yourself this question whenever you are tempted to unleash your drone at a park. Counties, cities, and states have different drone laws governing drone use in public places like parks. If you intend to fly the drone just for fun, do some research to ensure your local park is in Class G airspace, then fly there within limits.

Local drone laws make finding no-drone zones a daunting experience. On the bright side, there are solid measures you can take to ensure you can fly a drone in state parks like California, Colorado, or Tennessee. This article has a step-by-step process you can follow to find out if you can fly a drone for fun or commercially at a public park.

Public Parks vs. National Parks

Can I Fly a Drone in a Public Park? - Your Question Answered

Before you find out if you can fly a drone in a public park, you must understand the difference between public and national parks. According to an article by  Virginia Wesleyan University Trusted Source National Park vs. State Park: Understanding the Difference | VWU Online What’s the difference between national park vs. state park? Though similar in beauty and public use, there are major factors that separate these entities. online.vwu.edu , public parks fall in a different category from National Parks. Therefore, the drone laws that apply to a national park will differ from those in your local public park.

A public park is a shared space maintained by the local government and is usually smaller than a national park. The parks are open to anyone who wants to visit and do any activity, provided it is legal. Most have playgrounds, sports fields, and paved paths for biking and jogging.

On the other hand, national parks are large and managed by the U.S national park service. Most national parks are natural places like lakes and mountains or areas with cultural significance. They are also homes to different types of wildlife.

State parks are something between national parks and public parks. They are large areas of land set aside like national parks but are maintained by state governments. Can you fly drones in Michigan, Ohio, California, Texas, Florida, or Colorado state parks? Well, you have to check each state’s laws to know if drone flying is permitted in the parks and the limitations.

According to the  National Park Service Trusted Source Unmanned Aircraft in the National Parks (U.S. National Park Service) Information about unmanned aircraft (or drone) use in national parks. www.nps.gov rules, launching, landing, and operating unmanned aircraft is prohibited in national parks. Unmanned aircraft include drones. The rule exists because most national parks are homes to wild animals, various plant species, and other living creatures. Drones and other unmanned aircraft are a threat to wildlife’s safety.

Violating the 36 CFR 1.5 rule by the NPS can land you in jail for six months or a hefty fine of up to $5000. Only drones used for scientific research are excused from the rule.

While most public parks have no specific drone rules, it can be hard to predict as different local governments have laws governing operations in their public spaces. By default, drone flying is allowed in most public parks, but you should remember that each park district can create laws regulating drone flying in their parks. The laws may be absolute restrictions, designated flying hours, or requirement to acquire a permit before flying in the park.

You may be approached by park staff at any time to produce your permit or stop your drone operations if you are putting people in harm’s way.

How to Check If You Can Fly a Drone in Your Public Park

Can you fly a drone at Custer state park or Liberty state park? As mentioned earlier, you can take a few steps to ensure you can fly a drone in a public park.

Check the air map or B4UFLY apps

Can I Fly a Drone in a Public Park? - Your Question Answered

According to the  FDA Trusted Source Where Can I Fly? | Federal Aviation Administration Anyone flying a drone is responsible for flying within FAA guidelines and regulations. That means it is up to you as a drone pilot to know the Rules of the Sky, and where it is and is not safe to fly. Airspace Restrictions Learn about airspace restrictions, especially around airports, so your drone does not endanger people or other aircraft. www.faa.gov , every drone pilot must ensure they are flying within FAA guidelines and restrictions. Airmap or B4UFLy will help you see if there are any drone restrictions in the park you want to fly in.

  • Download the app and open it.
  • Click the search icon and enter the address of the public park you want to fly in.
  • Advisories will pop up and show you a list of all the drone restrictions in the area. If you find advisories like ‘airports in the area,’ you must apply for low altitude flight authorization (LAANC), whether as a hobby or a commercial pilot.
  • If you don’t see any, you can fly in the park.

Check if there are any military bases or airports around the park

According to FAA rules, you cannot fly a drone within a 5-mile radius of an airport or close to airports, military bases, and government buildings.

Check for local drone laws on Google

You could easily search Google for local drone restrictions to ensure you operate within the law. Keep in mind that city laws change often and may not be updated on Airmap of B4UFLY apps. You should use Google to confirm the local restrictions before taking to the skies. Some parks will only have drone laws during big events like festivals or concerts. You can only see such city drone laws on Google.

Check with other drone hobbyists in the area

Nothing beats first-hand information. Try to connect with other drone pilots in the area from Facebook, and drone forums online. They will give you great advice about flying in the area and the no-drone zones to avoid.

Do you need an affordable drone for fishing at your local park, but feel overwhelmed with all the options on the market. Read our articles on the best drones for fishingbest drones under 200, and best drones under 2000 for first-rate models and comprehensive buying guides that will help you make an informed choice. The popular Holy stone GPS drone and DJI Mavic Air 2S are good examples of premium quality drones you can go fishing with. They both have 4K ultra clear cameras and multiple intelligent functions that offer the best flight experience.

FAA Laws That Apply To Public Parks

Flying your drone in a public park legally does not stop at finding out if you can actually fly in the park. You have to be keen not to break the FAA law while flying in the park. The park has many people and some of them hate drones and might have a keen eye on you. If you fly within the following rules, you won’t be in trouble;

You drone must be in line of sight: Ensure you can see your drone while operating it.

Do not fly at night

Can I Fly a Drone in a Public Park? - Your Question Answered

Flying at night is prohibited if there is insufficient lighting. Without enough light, you cannot have your drone in line of sight.

Do not fly over people and vehicles

Besides being a law, flying over people is disrespectful. Many people go to parks to relax and the last thing they want is a buzzing drone above their heads. It can also be dangerous.

Fly below 400 ft above ground level, away from other aircraft: This is a law that can fetch a heavy fine if not followed.

Do not fly when drunk or under substance abuse

Flying in an intoxicated state is dangerous, as you could hurt someone. It will also attract attention from people at the park.

Do not fly near emergency services

If you see emergency services at the park, land your drone to avoid confusion. The emergency personnel need to focus on the task at hand without distractions.

Avoid reckless flying

A public park is not a place for drone racing as you may scare people and put them in harm’s way.

Safety Tips when Flying in Public Parks

Here are a few drone flying tips that will keep you in check and ensure you are not ruining people’s fun at the park;

Avoid flying directly over people

The FAA drone law prohibits flying over people whether you are flying commercially or for fun. Flying over people poses a safety threat should the drone crash. Avoid flying on playgrounds, paths, or areas where dogs walk without a leash.

Get the Part 107 license if you are flying commercially

Can I Fly a Drone in a Public Park? - Your Question Answered

If you plan to do commercial photography or filming, ensure you have the license because the park staff will ask you to present it or stop your operations if you are endangering people at the park.

Ask for permission before taking pictures or filming

You may not be prohibited from taking photos at a public park but asking people for permission will go a long way. Everyone gets suspicious when they see a stranger holding a camera. Asking for permission is a good gesture and will reduce the tension even if you don’t plan to take photos of them.

Check the airspace classification

Your local public park may not have specific drone laws but it may fall within controlled airspace. Flying in a controlled airspace is illegal according to the FAA laws. Be sure to check with an app like B4UFLY to see if you need to file for a LAANC authorization before flying.

Make the people at the park feel at ease

Drone flying is a fascinating activity and you may get a few stares from people wondering what you are up to. Make small talk with them and explain to them what you are doing. You can even show them a few of the photos and video footage you have captured at the park to make them less bothered.

Final Thoughts

Many public parks have beautiful scenery worth capturing. Before flying your drone to take photos and video footages of all the beauty you encounter at the park, ensure you are operating within the law. Some parks may not have the rules posted at the entrance, but the park staff may approach you to present a permit or stop your drone operations if they are not following the park’s rules. The local government can create laws that regulate drone use in public spaces like parks and it is your responsibility to ensure you are not violating any.

Can you fly a drone in a public park? Yes. If you have done your due diligence and you are sure that the park allows drone flying and you are operating within its rules. Use B4UFLY or Airmap app for research. Joining a drone piloting community in the area may also help.

References

1.
National Park vs. State Park: Understanding the Difference | VWU Online
What’s the difference between national park vs. state park? Though similar in beauty and public use, there are major factors that separate these entities.
2.
Unmanned Aircraft in the National Parks (U.S. National Park Service)
Information about unmanned aircraft (or drone) use in national parks.
3.
Where Can I Fly? | Federal Aviation Administration
Anyone flying a drone is responsible for flying within FAA guidelines and regulations. That means it is up to you as a drone pilot to know the Rules of the Sky, and where it is and is not safe to fly. Airspace Restrictions Learn about airspace restrictions, especially around airports, so your drone does not endanger people or other aircraft.
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