Can You Fly a Drone in Public Places?
Public spaces are available for the general public to use. While they can sometimes enter for free, that depends on the type of public space.
A public space can be indoors or outdoors. Where can you fly your drone in a public place, or can you at all?
You can generally fly your drone in a public place like a beach, park, or public square, but that fully depends on where in the world you fly. For example, a smaller town square might permit drone pilots, but drone activity is strictly outlawed in Times Square, New York.
This guide to using a drone in public places will dispel any confusion.
Before you launch your drone, make sure you read the information we have for you coming up!
Can you fly a drone at the beach?
Beaches afford coastal views and unerring beauty. They’re a popular place for sunbathing, swimming, surfing, and flying your drone.
The rules on permitting drones on the beach are admittedly a mixed bag. As you travel this wide world, you’ll discover that some beaches allow drones while others outlaw them.
If you’re allowed to bring your drone to the beach, you’ll have to do so while avoiding the crowds, as you’re not allowed to operate too close to people.
This will mean planning your drone excursion earlier or later in the day. You can also schedule your drone flight during an off-time like in the middle of the week during working hours.
Only more experienced drone pilots should fly at the beach. Even if your drone takes a dive in the sand, all the grit in the components can possibly break it. Your drone also won’t survive a trip in the surf!
Can you fly a drone at a park?
Public parks are usually open to drone pilots, unlike state and national parks in many parts of the United States. However, even some public parks forbid drones.
It all depends on the local drone laws and ordinances. If a city, town, county, or village has local laws prohibiting drones from entering a park, you could face fines or possibly more severe penalties for disobeying.
Some parks only allow drone pilots in designated areas. If that’s the case, know the perimeter and use your drone in those areas.
Can you fly a drone in a public square?
A public or town square is a city or town center used for community gatherings. Unlike beaches or public parks, drones are traditionally more unwelcome in public squares.
During gatherings with large enough crowds, the FAA prohibits your drone from getting too close. You’ll have to stay on the sidelines away from the fun, and how far off on the sidelines depends on the local ordinances.
As we mentioned in the intro, some town squares have much stricter rules, such as Times Square in New York City. This is like your average public square but on steroids. Rather than attracting a few hundred people, Times Square has millions of visitors per year.
Drones flying in such a densely-packed area would prove too dangerous.
Can you fly a drone in a sports arena or stadium?
Whether enclosed or open, sports stadiums and arenas count as public places. This is one type of public place where the rules are very clear. Drones cannot fly here.
The FAA prohibits pilots from operating a drone within a three-mile radius of a sports venue or stadium that seats at least 30,000 people.
You cannot use your drone an hour before or an hour after any NASCAR, NCAA, NFL, or MLB game, according to the FAA’s rules.
Can you fly a drone in a museum?
Museums are beloved cultural hubs. All around the world, you’ll find museums dotting the landscape, so can drones fly in these public places?
Let’s talk about using your drone outside of a museum first. A museum may have rules prohibiting the behavior or they’ll strongly frown upon it.
If you’re free to use your drone outside of museum grounds, you could annoy or upset people with the presence of your drone (remember, not everyone loves UAVs as much as we do here on the blog!). This will cost the museum business.
Obviously, you cannot enter a museum with your drone. In no instance would that be permitted considering you could cause severe damage by flying your UAV into any of the exhibits on display.
Most museum exhibits showcase precious art pieces or fossils, artifacts, and other one-of-a-kind items. If you were to damage or break these items with your drone, it’s not like you could pay to get them repaired or replaced.
You would also take away from the enjoyment of the visitors who came to the museum, as they’re expecting a relatively quiet experience.
Can you fly a drone in a hotel or motel?
Although you’re entitled to privacy in your room, a hotel or motel is still considered public property.
Naturally, if you’re traveling with your drone, you’ll bring it to a hotel or motel. However, there’s a difference between keeping the drone tucked away in its bag and using it inside your hotel room or outside on the balcony.
Many hotels have begun cracking down on drone usage in and outside of hotel rooms. Drones can cause noise that disrupts the tranquility of other hotel guests. More so, drones may threaten guests’ privacy and cause injury risks.
Your drone can also lead to property damage whether you’re flying it inside your hotel room or out (but especially in!).
Some hotels prohibit drones from entering at all. Others will allow drones but forbid pilots from using the drone on hotel grounds. Yet other hotels and motels might allow drones.
Always check the hotel website while you’re booking your stay. You don’t want to find out too late that you can’t bring your drone into the hotel!
Can you fly a drone in a bar or restaurant?
When you work up an appetite on your travels, you’ll hit up a bar or restaurant. Can you bring your drone with you to these public places?
While this is at the discretion of the building owner, in almost no instance could we foresee any restaurant or bar owner granting you permission to use your drone inside their establishment. It’s too tight quarters, and a restaurant or bar will have too many people.
It’d be impossible to avoid bumping into someone, which would disrupt their dining experience in a hurry.
If anything, you’ll continue to see drones used in the restaurant industry for delivery purposes, but that’s about it.
Can you fly a drone in a store?
Unsurprisingly, the same rules would apply in any store, from a big retailer to a small general store or mom-and-pop shop. It’s just too tight in a store for a drone to fly, and you would undoubtedly hit merchandise or risk crashing into someone, causing an injury.
Besides, there’s no appeal to using your drone inside a store or even a bar or restaurant, for that matter. What kind of footage will you take? It’s nothing breathtaking like flying in the great outdoors!
Can you fly a drone in a train station?
Another public place that major cities and towns feature is a train station.
Train stations may be indoors or outdoors, but either way, you can’t legally fly your drone in or around one. You’ll recall that the FAA instituted its Operations over Moving Vehicles law, which prohibits drones from flying over a moving vehicle.
The FAA law mostly discusses cars and trucks, but at no point does it limit its restrictions to only those vehicles. Any moving vehicle counts, and a train is certainly a moving vehicle.
That’s not to say you can’t travel with your drone on a train if you keep it in a bag.
Can you fly a drone in a gas station?
Gas stations make a great place to fuel up, both your vehicle and your stomach if the station has an attached convenience store. They’re not nearly as suitable for flying your drone, even if you do like capturing urban environments for your projects.
Remember, the Operations over People law is in full effect, as gas stations regularly have moving vehicles pulling into and out of the station.
It doesn’t matter that these vehicles are traveling much slower than they do on the road. A moving vehicle is a moving vehicle, and your drone cannot fly over any moving vehicles.
Can you fly a drone in an airport?
While you’re allowed to bring your drone with you on an airplane in checked luggage or a carry-on bag, you must leave the drone powered off, batteries out. You can’t fly it in that condition.
Even if you could, it would be very illegal. The FAA prohibits drone pilots from using a UAV within five miles of an airport. The risk of interrupting manned aircraft is significant.
Can you fly a drone in a cemetery?
Although technically private property, since people bury their loved ones there, cemeteries are regarded as public property.
While it varies, drones can generally fly in cemeteries. You might need a permit or special permission, especially if you’ll film at the cemetery. You also have to follow FAA guidelines, such as limiting your altitude to no more than 400 feet.
Another consideration if you’re thinking of using your drone in or around a cemetery is people. You cannot get close to crowds, and the only time a crowd would gather at a cemetery is for a funeral.
You should also be ultra-respectful due to the nature of cemeteries.
FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Test Prep
Peltier has quite the experience, making him qualified to teach about photography and drones in separate courses. He was a part of the U.S. Air Force as an F-15E flight instructor for a decade.
The world has so many public places that the general population can access. You can fly a drone in most of them, but the rules vary.
If you’re not sure whether you can use your drone around a public place, look for signage, check your local laws and ordinances, and use a drone map. Safe flying!