Flying a drone in the US is legal.
However, you can land in legal hot water from the moment you take flight if you’re flying in a Federal Aviation Authority(FAA) no-fly drone zone.
To stay out of trouble, be sure that you meet and follow the drone rules and regulations set by the FAA.
These rules are simple and very easy to follow so you can go out there, take to the skies and have fun.
It can be slightly overwhelming going through the long list of drone rules and regulations.
For this reason, we’ll be focusing on the FAA’s drone no fly zone map in this article.
We’ll try to cover as much as possible in this post but check the FAA rules in your area just to be sure.
- Drone no fly zone map
- FAA restrictions
- Non-FAA restrictions
- FAQs about no fly zones for drones
Drone no fly zone map
Knowing where to fly legally and safely is of the utmost importance especially if you’re a new drone pilot.
The FAA is in control of all airspace in the US.
To make things easier for drone pilots, the FAA designed an app that can help you determine where to and where not to fly.
The B4UFLY app is simple to use, saves you lots of time and is for both new and expert drone pilots.
It helps to determine the safety of any airspace before you fly.
Simply download the app from the App or Google Play Store.
Open it up and choose a flight location on the map.
The app then lets you know if you can fly in that area or update you on any drone restriction, advisories, limitations or regulations in that specific location.
There are several established no-fly zones in the United States.
You should avoid flying in and around airports where air traffic is heavy.
It is difficult for a manned aircraft to see and avoid a drone while flying.
Keep in mind that you’ll be held responsible for any safety hazard your drone creates in an airport environment.
However, in some instances, you may be able to fly in controlled airspaces near airports but first, you’ll need to obtain airspace authorization before doing so.
If granted, the authorization may come with altitude limitations and other operational provisions that you’ll need to follow.
You can check the B4UFly app for controlled airspace and other flying restrictions.
To request authorization to fly in controlled airspaces, use DroneZone.
The White House
You cannot fly in, above or around the area of the White House.
The Secret Service takes no risk when it comes to protecting the president and the privacy of the nation.
The airspace around the Washington DC area is one of the most restricted in the United States.
After the 9/11 attacks, rules were put into place to limit aircraft operations.
You can get slapped with fines and even face jail time or worse if you are flying within 15 miles of the general Washington DC area.
Only those with an FAA and Transportation Security Administration authorization can fly within a 15-mile radius.
You can fly your drone between 15 and 30 miles of Washington, D.C. if :
- Your drone weighs less than 55 lbs with a camera and battery or any other attachments installed
- The drone is registered and labeled
- You fly below 400 ft, keep the drone in your visual line of sight, fly when the weather is clear and far away from other aircraft.
You are not allowed to fly in or around sports arena one hour before or after any of the following events:
- Major League Baseball
- National Football League
- NCAA Division One Football
- NASCAR Sprint Cup, Indy Car, and Champ Series races
Drone use is prohibited within a radius of three nautical miles of the stadium or venue.
The FAA and the Stadium Managers Association (SMA) even took things a step further and created the “It’s Game/Race Day: Leave Your Drone at Home” safety campaign.
The campaign serves to educate fans and local communities about these restrictions.
The FAA wants you to respect animals and you are prohibited from flying in an area that is considered ecologically sensitive.
This includes any land within the National Wildlife Refuge System that hosts threatened or endangered species.
It is illegal to do so and you can be heavily penalized if you do not follow these rules.
If your drone flight is caught disturbing the wildlife, fines can be levied against you if you fly over Refuge boundaries.
That being said, you may be able to obtain a permit that allows you to fly within the area for research, etc.
Not only is flying your drone near a wildfire dangerous but it can also cause unnecessary loss of lives.
If a forest or wildfire gets to a point where manned aircraft need to get involved, the FAA enacts a Temporary Flight Restriction(TFR) for the area.
Even if there’s no TRF in place, avoid flying your drone near wildfires.
It doesn’t matter whether restrictions are established, you will be held responsible if your drone interferes with wildfire suppression, law enforcement or emergency response operations
A manned aircraft will divert if you are flying your drone in the area.
You will be held responsible for any extra lives lost or extra damages.
It is a federal crime punishable by law which can see you spending up to 12 months in jail if you interfere with firefighting efforts on public lands.
The FAA can also impose a civil penalty of up to $20,000 if you do not follow the rules and regulations involving drones and forest or wildfires.
You were allowed to fly within range of military bases a few years ago but that has changed.
You cannot operate your drone near military bases.
This includes the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force National Guard and others.
The FAA in conjunction with the Department of Defense agreed to restrict drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of these facilities.
There may be a few exceptions where you are permitted to fly your drone within the restrictions.
However, they must be coordinated with both the facility itself and the FAA.
If you fly within range of military bases without permission you may be subjected to civil penalties and criminal charges.
Prison and other correctional facilities
In 2018 the FAA restricted airspace in which drones and UAVs can operate.
These included federal prisons and other correctional facilities.
This restriction was implemented at the request of FAA’s Federal security partners.
It came about after numerous reports of drones being used to smuggle contraband and other paraphernalia to inmates inside of the prison.
The FAA announced additional national security-sensitive locations that took effect on December 30, 2020.
However, not all Department Of Defense(DOD) locations are no-fly zones but it’s better to be safe than sorry so try not to fly around these areas.
If you must, head over to the UAS Data Delivery System(UDDS) website and use the interactive map that displays restricted airspace in the US.
In addition to the areas mentioned above, The FAA can enact a Temporary Flight Restriction(TFR) anywhere at any time.
This restriction will override any other airspace rules for that particular area.
All unauthorized flights will be restricted for a specified period.
Most times, TRFs are enacted to keep air traffic away from any air traffic that can interfere with important operations or cause unnecessary risk to others.
TRFs are put in place for outdoor sporting events, emergencies, construction sites, military operations and others.
The federal government decided that the FAA‘s wildlife refuge flight restrictions may not be enough to protect the wild.
Not only can drones disturb wildlife but also people.
This is why all National Parks in the United States have banned drones.
The ban includes all National Parks, monuments, historic sites, battlefields, seashores, biking trails, walking trails, rivers, and other places run by the National Park Service.
Do not push your luck since the airspace above these areas is controlled by the FAA.
A park ranger can fine you for trespassing, disturbing the peace or more if you are within the boundaries of the park.
If you are outside of park bounds and fly your drone over the park, you are not technically breaking FAA rules.
However, you can get slapped with a noise complaint charge.
You may be able to fly in some State Parks and may not be able to in some.
This varies from state to state and park by park.
However, most State Parks are flagged as a no-fly zone.
The same rules for National Park apply here.
Park authorities can issue fines such as trespassing, noise pollution, etc.
Some cities in the US have restricted drone flight over schoolyards.
This is to help eliminate flight over people and invasion of privacy.
However, in this instance, it’s more so to protect children from a potential falling object.
It is also to keep the kids safe. Since there are many concerns when it comes to strangers with flying cameras and children.
Some City Parks
Drones have become so popular that almost everyone owns a unit.
However, not everyone uses drones for their intended purpose and that can create issues for the rest of us.
Many cities in the US have banned drones.
The main objective is to protect people on the ground.
Before flying your drone in a city park, check to make sure that you can.
FAQs about no fly zones for drones
Where can you fly drones?
Use the FAA-designed and approved B4UFly app to identify no-fly zones.
It is one of the quickest and easiest ways to know if you can fly in the area you want to.
Install the app, open it up and choose a flight location on the map.
The app then updates you on any advisories, limitations or restrictions for the area.
Why does the FAA have so many restrictions?
The FAA’s list of restrictions may overwhelm you but these are put in place to ensure the safety of people or wildlife.
In some instances, drones are restricted because they may put lives as well as the nation’s security at risk.
Some drone users have misused drones and the FAA had to take steps to regain control of its airspace.
Remember to follow all the drone flying laws and regulations at all times.
Failure to do so can result in stiff penalties like being slapped with criminal charges and even jail time.
Do keep in mind that the FAA is not out to get you, they are just trying to ensure that you use drones safely and responsibly.
My drone weighs less than 0.55 lbs, can I fly anywhere?
Unfortunately, the size and weight of your drone do not determine where and where you cannot fly your drone.
Anything aircraft in the sky is part of the National Airspace System so even if you’re flying a tiny drone in your backyard, the FAA still has jurisdiction.l
This means you need to follow all the rules and regulations set by the FAA.
Do I have to get a drone license?
The FAA in June 2021 announced a new rule where all drone pilots must obtain a license before taking flight.
Hobby pilots need to get their TRUST certificate and commercial pilots need their Part 107 certificate.
The FAA is interested in how you are going to be using your drone.
Be sure to get the license that best suits your drone usage.
What does TFR mean?
TFR stands for Temporary Flight Restrictions.
These are put into place and override any other rules and regulations for a given area.
This means no unauthorized flights are allowed.
TFRs help to keep air traffic away from situations where they can cause interference, prevent authorized personnel from performing their duties or put others at risk.
Can I fly in sensitive areas if I have a drone Remote ID?
Sorry, you cannot.
The Remote ID is a standard operating requirement for all drones.
This was put into effect on April 21, 2021.
It is similar to the license plate of your car.
Having a legal plate does not permit you to go wherever you want.
You’ll need to apply for permission before doing so and the same goes for drones.
Can I fly my drone at the beach?
You may be able to fly your drone at some beaches providing that it’s not overcrowded.
However, once again it would be better to check if you can fly at that specific beach before taking to the skies.
In the end, before you take flight, do your research and see if you can fly in that area.
Don’t assume that you can because you see someone else using theirs.
They may have special permission and if you don’t, you can be fined.
There are many apps out there that can help you figure out where you can fly including the FAA’s B4UFly App.
You’ll also find tons of additional resources where you can get this information online.
It is even possible to call some of the local bodies in your state, city, county or town for information as well.
With all these resources at your disposal, you shouldn’t be out there operating your drone in a place or manner where you put people or wildlife at risk.
Get out there and fly safely and legally.