Are Drones Illegal In New York City For Hobbyist Drone Pilots? [UPDATED 2021]

Are Drones Illegal In New York City For Hobbyist Drone Pilots? [UPDATED 2021] Blog
Are Drones Illegal In New York City For Hobbyist Drone Pilots? [UPDATED 2021]

Imagine the video footage you can get with your drone in New York City. The tall skyscrapers over the horizon during the sunset…it would be breathtaking. Well, you don’t need to dream about it anymore. I did some research and what I found is extremely exciting for all drone hobbyists.

In 2017 the administrative code § 10-126 was released which prohibited all drones from taking off and landing within New York City. However, the city also provided five parks for hobbyist drone pilots to fly their drones in. So you can still fly your drone in New York City legally.

So where are these parks and how can you access them? Keep reading to find out.

5 New York City Parks That Allow Hobbyist Drones

Based on the nycgovparks.org website, there are only five parks that you’re allowed to legally fly your drone in. And unfortunately, two of them you need to pay a membership.

01. Calvert Vaux Park – Brooklyn

Click here for directions on google maps.

This park is situated in Brooklyn. To be able to fly your drone at this park, you first need to join the Seaview Rotary Wings RC Helicopter Club.

But before you can do that, you need to be a member of the AMA , (Academy Of Model Aircraft.) If you’re not a member of the AMA yet, you can apply by clicking here.

Once that’s done, then you can apply to join the Rotary wings club.

Video of a member flying their DJI Phantom drone at the Calvert Vaux Park:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zho7JITih18Video can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled: DJI Phantom – Seaview Rotary Wings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zho7JITih18)

02. Marine Park – Brooklyn

Click here for directions on google maps.

This is another park in Brooklyn that requires a paid plan. You can only fly at the Marine park once you have joined the Radio Control Society of Marine Park club. At $135 per year, it can be pretty pricey, however, with the limited number of options in the area, this might be your only choice.

Drone footage of Marine Park:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxWpdCCde0cVideo can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled: Marine Park Drone Flight 2017 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxWpdCCde0c)

How to enroll with the AMA, (Academy Of Model Aircraft.)

To be able to join either one of these clubs in Brooklyn you need to be a member of the AMA first and that my friend is a separate annual fee. Which is pretty ridiculous if you ask me.

Nonetheless f you would like to join the AMA, you can do so by clicking on this link. Once you have successfully joined, then you can submit your application for one of the park clubs above. Price per year ranges from $0 if you’re a minor, and $75 per year for the rest of us.

03. Flushing Meadows Corona Park – Queens

Click here for directions on google maps.

Flushing Meadows park is a beautiful park that doesn’t require any paid memberships. Just take your drone there and ENJOY!

Just keep in mind that if there any events planned or going on, don’t attempt to fly your drone. Usually, there will be temporary flight restrictions in play during events.

Drone footage of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bronPeOOMHMVideo can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled: Aerialworks – Drone Video – Flushing Meadows Corona Park – in Ultra High Definition 4k (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bronPeOOMHM)

04. Forest Park – Queens

Click here for directions on google maps.

If you’re trying to get the best footage of New York City I highly recommend Forest Park. On a clear day at an elevation of a few hundred feet, you can get some beautiful video footage of almost the entire city.

And the best thing? NO MEMBERSHIP REQUIRED.

Drone footage of Forest Park:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGrwuEjFnqwVideo can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled: Forest Park NY Spring 2019 by drone (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGrwuEjFnqw)

05. La Tourette Park – Staten Island

Click here for directions on google maps.

Drone footage of La Tourette Park:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbt23f_UC8UVideo can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled: DJI PHANTOM 3 flying in Latourette Park @ 290 ft. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbt23f_UC8U)

How To Know Where You Can Fly A Drone In New York City?

When deciding where you can fly in NYC, it’s really four questions that you need to answer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ps8MLth00RMVideo can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled: Why it’s (mostly) illegal to drone in NYC (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ps8MLth00RM)

01. Are you following FAA drone part 107 drone rules?

Some FAA rules that are easy to break in New York City. FAA states that you can’t fly your drone over a person that’s not flying the drone. Since New York City is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, this alone makes it difficult to fly your drone anywhere in NYC.

02. Am I allowed to take off and land on this property?

Local drone laws in New York City state that you’re not allowed to take off and land from anywhere within New York City. As mentioned in Administrative Code § 10-126;

“No person shall voluntarily bring, land or cause to alight within or upon any park, any airplane, hot balloon, parachute, hang glider, or other aerial craft or device.”

But can you take off and land from somewhere else and fly over New York City? That’s when we need to take a look for any New York City airspace restrictions.

03. Is this airspace clear without any restrictions?

The best tool to use for this is the Airmap app that you can download on your smartphone, or you can simply visit their website airmap.com. Airmap gets real-time updates from the FAA so they have the most up to date airspace restrictions in a given moment for hobbyist drone pilots to use.

Once in the app, you’ll notice that a lot of New York City airspace is covered by Class-B airspace controlled by La Guardia and JFK airport. This is shown as blue in the image below.

Are Drones Illegal In New York City For Hobbyist Drone Pilots? [UPDATED 2021]
Image of New York City displayed in airmap.com.

It’s perfectly possible for hobbyist drone pilots to fly in Class B airspace, however, you’ll need to apply for LAANC authorization first. This application requests permission for low altitude flying, (below 400 feet,) in the class B airspace.

INSIDER TIP: When doing the LAANC application on airmap, make sure your flying altitude is as low as possible, (for example 200 feet.) The lower that you’re willing to fly, the more likely you’ll get approved.

The application used to only be for commercial drone pilots, however, the FAA has opened the application process to hobbyist drone pilots as well.

If this sounds complicated, it’s not. This LAANC authorization application can be done in minutes right inside the airmap app. I wrote a full article on how you can apply for LAANC authorization here if you need more details on that.

Another option you have is to stay out of the blue circle and only fly in airspace that isn’t controlled. However over New York City these can be extremely difficult.

04. Are there any local city or county drone laws stopping me from flying here?

This is where the big problem comes in for people trying to fly their drones in NYC. The city published this back in 2016.

Are Drones Illegal In New York City For Hobbyist Drone Pilots? [UPDATED 2021]

“Call 911 to report a drone in use in New York City. Drones are more formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). It is illegal to fly them in New York City.”

nyc.gov

Now what you take from that is completely up to you. With their ‘regulations’ on drone laws lacking explanation, you could read that in a million ways. It still leaves me wondering, does that apply if I’m following all FAA drone laws? if I’m not taking off or landing on private property? and what if I’m not flying in controlled airspace?

Well, it’s difficult to know, especially since hobbyists pilots who have been fined for flying their drones in New York City, were fined because they committed a serious offense by breaking FAA drone laws. Offenses such as flying recklessly in downtown NYC, crashing their drones into buildings, etc.

And how much were they fined? Well, it was roughly $2000. That being said I’m not recommending or insinuating anything, it’s just something for you to think about.

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