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Can You Fly a Drone in NYC? What You Need to Know!

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white drone in flight

It is illegal to fly a drone in New York City (NYC) for personal or recreational use. Drones are only allowed to be flown in the city if the driver has a license, passes certain tests, and is flying for commercial purposes. Even for individuals with approval, there are still limits about where they can fly the drone in NYC. Luckily, there are some drone-safe locations to check out.

To learn more about if you can fly a drone in NYC, keep reading. This guide fully breaks down the laws and legality of drone flying in the Big Apple.

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Are You Allowed to Fly Drones in NYC?

It is illegal to fly drones in New York City¹ for recreational or hobbyist purposes. As a result, you are not allowed to fly drones in NYC if you are just flying them for fun and do not have the appropriate licensure and purposes for flying the device.

Why Not? 

Even though it certainly is a bummer that you cannot fly drones in New York City, the reasons for the law are valid. Nearly all of New York City is considered Class B airspace due to the number of airports around the city. In order to fly within these lines, you have to get FAA authorization¹ first.

As you might suspect, getting an FAA authorization will not happen if you just want to fly your drone for recreational purposes. Not only do you not have a piloting license, but you are increasing the chance of accidents in the area.

Not to mention, drone flying can be a serious problem for public health and safety. It would be a lot easier for criminals to target victims. In a city as big as New York City, this risk to public health cannot be ignored or overlooked.

Drone in Hand
Image By: Dose Media, Shutterstock

There Are Drone-Approved Parks

All that being said, there are a few drone-approved parks in New York City¹. You can fly drones at the Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Tanner Park, Calvert Vaus, and Marine Park. All these destinations are open to drone flyers. Although they will not offer you cool shots of downtown Manhattan, they are still a great way to practice your drone flying skills while living in this city.

Do You Need a Permit to Fly a Drone in NYC?

Even though you cannot fly a drone in NYC for recreational purposes, there are times when flying a drone is okay. If you have a Part 107 license¹ and pass the TRUST test for flying recreationally in New York, you can fly drones commercially in NYC. The license and permit will come from the FAA.

Although permits are available for certain Flyers, the vast majority of drone hobbyists do not fit the qualifications for getting the permit to fly a drone in New York City.

Something else to note is that there are stipulations about where individuals with a permit can fly. For instance, individuals approved to fly a drone in New York City are not allowed to fly over historical areas. This shows that even individuals with permits have restrictions in the city.      

drone flying along the river
Image By: Karl Greif, Unsplash

What Is the Fine for Flying a Drone in NYC?

If you are thinking about breaking New York City drone laws and simply paying a fine, think again. Violating drone laws¹ can get you up to 90 days in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, or both. Unless you’re willing to risk jail time, do not break the laws.

Do Other Cities Have Drone Laws?

Yes. The vast majority of cities prohibit drone flying for recreational use. Even in smaller communities, drone flying is often prohibited within city limits. It’s always important to double check that you are flying within a legal zone as a result.

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Once again, it is illegal to fly a drone in New York City for recreational purposes with the exception of the pre-approved parks. Although some people can apply for a permit, the vast majority of drone flyers cannot apply for flying in New York City.

Make sure to follow these laws accordingly since they keep the city and citizens safe. If you need more areas to fly, look outside of New York City and make a trip.

Featured Image Credit: Annie Spratt, Unsplash

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.