We all love drone technology, and the human race is using drones to solve everyday problems. Drones are also used for research, military operations, and weather surveillance and most recently for recreational and personal uses. Ever since drones become cheaper and more accessible to normal human beings, more and more people have acquired them.
Personal drones are in use, and people are using them to take photos of public places such as parks and records aerial videos. What most drone pilots want to know is that is it really legal to fly drones over national parks and other public places. Well, that is why I have prepared this article or you to know.
· I am going to highlight the following sub-topics;
· Acquiring a national park permit for your drone
· Permits for flying your drone over the Grand Canyon
· Drone maps and how to get and use them
· Fines for flying your drone without a permit in restricted areas
· Selling photos from your aerial drone photography
· Introduction to the World of Drone Flying
Drones are one of the most awesome technologies to be invented. These quadcopters can maneuver in the air and take breathtaking photos. You can also participate in drone racing which is a very exciting experience. Flying drones is a very interesting hobby to choose (if you are searching for one).
You can buy drones for all types of budgets. All you have to do is head online and search for the best drone which suits your needs and budget. Amazon and Bestbuy are the best places to start. Once you have bought your drone, you can use a drone simulator to help you understand the basics of drone piloting.
Are Drones Even Legal?
Drones are totally legal to purchase and fly, but there are restrictions on where you can and cannot fly your drone. Depending on the country you live in, drone regulation restrictions can vary. In the USA, it is illegal to use drones in several areas.
It is completely understandable to restrict drone flying since drones can be used in espionage missions and other damaging activities. Imagine if a terrorist used a drone to drop an explosive in a tourist attraction center or congested public area. Horrifying, isn’t it?
For these reasons, the USA federal government has prohibited the flying of drones over certain areas in the country. These zones are mostly referred to as no-fly zones. It is, therefore, illegal to fly and operate drones in such areas.
No Fly Zones for Drones
Do you want to know which places over which you cannot fly your drone? Of course, you do, and every other drone pilot should know this. You should learn to avoid trouble by avoiding these zones. I have a brief guide to help you have a general idea of places you should avoid flying your drone over however tempted you are. These areas include;
Recreational flying is prohibited in any area where an airport is located. In short, you should not fly a drone around any airport. This includes a 5-mile radius that surrounds the airport. If you want to be on the safe side of the law and avoid a jail term or a heavy fine, avoid flying your quadcopter anywhere around a working airport.
Similar to airports, drone flying is restricted around helipads. This is because a drone can distract landing and take-off of helicopters.
3. The White House
The White House in Washington DC is one of the most protected territories in the world, and therefore drone flying is restricted. Do not dare to fly your quad around this area as it will be viewed as a security threat and you could be imprisoned.
4. Sport Arenas
No personal drone is allowed over sports arenas and stadiums.
5. Wildlife Protection Areas
Wildlife protected areas are protected from drone flying, but one can acquire a permit to fly over them. Any unauthorized drone flying in these areas is illegal.
6. Other Public Areas
Public areas such as state parks, schools, military bases, some city parks. According to your area of jurisdiction, you should be aware of places you are barred from flying your drone over.
Flying Drones Over National Parks
Initially, it was legal to fly drones (UAVs) in national parks, and you wouldn’t fall into any legal trouble if you fly your quadcopter over any national park. This changed in 2014 when new legislation banned recreational flying and operating quadcopters in any national park without permission. The NPS director cited noise pollution and safety as the main motive behind this move.
This can include all the areas that are controlled by the National Park Service which include;
· Hiking trails
· Biking trails
· Walking trails
· Historic sites
It’s Not Entirely Illegal to Fly over National Parks!
However, there is the loophole in this legislation. Practically, flying over national parks is not entirely illegal. It is illegal to land or takes off in the premises owned by the national park service which is a very daunting task given that personal drones have the capability to do this correctly. National parks are very large in size (they over millions of acres). If you attempt to fly a drone over a national park, it will be impossible to do so without going against this legislation as most personal drones have a range of 5 miles.
In order to fly over national parks without landing and taking off within the park premises, you will need a very powerful and sophisticated drone. Most personal drones are simple and have a limited range of operation and battery time.
Flying Over Yellowstone National Park
The Yellowstone is one of the national parks in the USA, and it is, therefore, illegal to fly a drone over it without legal authorization. You should therefore not fly your drone over this area, or you are bound to face legal punishment in the form of fines and imprisonment. Flying in this territory (landing and taking off) is only permitted for licensed professionals such as fire safety officers, search and rescue officers, researchers, scientists, and park officers.
All the professionals that are allowed to fly drones in National parks should obtain a permit or license before the flight and also state all activities they intend to do. Fire safety officers and search and rescue officers have unlimited permission due to the situation their activities present.
Flying Your Drone over the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of the best places to visit when you are in the Grand Canyon and what is even more appealing is having real-life photos and videos of your adventure using a drone. However, I am a bearer of bad news. The Federal Aviation Administration has banned the flying of drones over the Grand Canyon.
Just like flying a drone in a national park, flying a drone in the Grand Canyon is also illegal. I have talked about the law that put this restriction into place. Any recreational drone is prohibited from taking off or landing in the Grand Canyon. Flying over the Grand Canyon is illegal and can land you a jail term if you are caught flying without a permit.
When you are caught flying drones over restricted areas such as the Grand Canyon and the Yellowstone National Park, you will face the full wrath of the law. I am not making this up. This crime invites a jail sentence of six months and a further $5000 in fines. The fines depend on the crime committed, and it is not very pleasing to pay such a hefty sum for a crime you would have just avoided in the first place. Also, who would want to go to jail for a petty crime of flying a drone in restricted areas?
Selling Your Photos
You might be doing awesome work for your aerial photography and videography, and you want to sell them. Making a buck from selling photos and videos and photos taken by a drone is a nice idea, but you should first know that you should have a permit. All commercial drone activities require you to register your drone and obtain a license. Otherwise, you are liable for tax evasion if you make money from drone videos without registering your drone and getting a license.
If you think your photos are worth it and you would like to trade them for money online, there are several places you could go to. There are marketplaces where you can trade your merchandise.
· Getty Images
· Aerial Entertainment Studios
· Drone stock
These are marketplaces which means that the site does not directly pay you for your photos, but rather you are given a royalty every time your image is purchased. The amount of royalty that you receive depends on how much you have sold and for how long. I won’t go into details on how payment works, but you can visit each of these sites to have a look for yourself.