Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about where you can legally fly drones as a hobby user with a DJI drone. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.
I was hoping to get some info on flying my drone around Twin Peaks in San Francisco. My city is covered in helipads. Can I still fly there? Can I fly over a bridge if there is a big international shipping port nearby?
For all recreational drone pilots: Check B4UFLY
Use the FAA’s B4UFLY, which was built by Aloft (the company formerly known as Kittyhawk) to know where you can and cannot fly with interactive maps.
The app has handy features including:
- A clear “status” indicator that informs you if is safe to fly or not.
- Information about controlled airspace, special use airspace, critical infrastructure, airports, national parks, military training routes and temporary flight restrictions.
- The ability to check whether it is safe to fly in different locations by searching for a location or moving the location pin.
- Links to other FAA drone resources and regulatory information.
If you fly a DJI drone: GEO software
DJI uses a software called the GEO System, which can tell you not only if it’s legal to fly in a certain area, such as near airports, power plants, and prisons.. It can also say when it’s safe to fly. Just open the app, and you’ll get a automatic yay or nay if you can fly there.
The app can also outpoint if your flight might ‘raise concerns’ or if your flight is restricted. The GEO app also stays up-to-date on temporary events and can prohibit flight for major stadium events, forest fires, or other emergency situations
What if I still need to fly in a place but DJI’s GEO software won’t let me take off?
The DJI GEO software initially prohibits you from flying in off-limits zones, though you can get around it by taking an extra step to unlock GEO by linking your verified DJI account to temporarily unlock or self-authorize your flight.
Keep in mind that in some cases you still might not be able to get around the unlock function in the event of some sensitive national-security locations or situations.
And one more note: DJI’s GEO system is advisory only, and ultimately DJI says you’re responsible for checking official sources and determining what laws or regulations might apply to your flight.
So your flight can legally take place in your area? Great! Just make sure you also adhere to either Part 107 rules if you’re a commercial operator. If you’re flying for fun, you need to adhere to the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Public Law 112-95 Section 336). Under this rule, operators must:
- Register their UAS with the FAA. Registration costs $5 and lasts 3 years. Register with the FAA here.
- Take and pass your TRUST test.
- Fly for hobby or recreational purposes only
- Follow a community-based set of safety guidelines
- Fly the UAS within visual line-of-sight
- Give way to manned aircraft
- Provide prior notification to the airport and air traffic control tower, if one is present, when flying within 5 miles of an airport
- Fly UAS that weigh no more than 55 lbs. unless certified by a community-based organization.
Make sense? Then get out there and happy flying (just check Know Before You Fly first!).