July 28, 2014

No Fly Zone: This Interactive Map Shows You Where NOT to Do Drone Photography

Aerial photography and cinematography are on the rise. As the equipment for stunning aerial shots gets cheaper and cheaper, more people are taking to the skies to tell their stories. In one sense, this is a good thing. Drone photography can produce some beautiful results, and inexpensive equipment means that those results are now within reach for those of us with modest budgets. However, aerial photography, like anything else, requires a working knowledge of these sky machines, as well as loads of practice. Then there's the issue of restricted airspace, places where unmanned aircraft just are not allowed by law for any number of reasons. A helpful new interactive map called Don't Fly Drones Here just launched, and it's a fantastic resource for people unsure of whether they can fly in a particular area.

The main gist of the map is simple. Stay away from major airports (at least five miles away), active military bases, and US National Parks. Here's a quote from the Don't Fly Drones Here blog, which sums up their mission perfectly.

Unmanned drones like quadcopters and fixed-wing aircraft are at the center of new airspace regulations by the FAA. While the FAA deliberates on rules and regulations, states, cities and other national organizations have implemented their own no-fly zones. To help people find safe places to fly, we’ve mapped established no-fly areas where drones are not permitted around all major airports, military bases, and national parks across the country. All the no-fly area data we collected to make these maps is now open data under CC-0.

Below is an embedded version of the map,  but I recommend going to their page to check it out in its full size.

For now, this map is a fairly accurate representation of the places where you can and cannot practice drone photography. It is not perfect, however, and you should always check with the proper authorities before any drone flight just to be sure. If you want to add to the map, you can submit new locations via their GitHub page.

Unfortunately, we're very likely to see new FAA regulations in the very near future that limit our access to the skies even more. Until then, however, this map should serve as a good starting place when planning your next drone flight.

Links:

[via PetaPixel]

Your Comment

20 Comments

This isn't 100% accurate. You CAN fly within 5 miles of a Class B if you contact your local ATC and let them know you are going to be flying withing that 5 miles. My airport has been nothing but great when reaching out to them when I want to fly within that limit.

July 28, 2014 at 3:47PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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RC

Do you ask for permission or just let them know you are flying? And this still applies even when you are flying under 400 feet?

July 28, 2014 at 10:01PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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One of the reasons we'll see new regulations is the idiots out there trying to get viral videos. There's a major wildfire burning in my area right now, and Cal Fire almost had to ground all the water helicopters and air tankers because some moron decided to fly his drone into the fray and get some cool video.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of drones for photography and videography, but this will go the way of everything else: legislating to the lowest common denominator.

July 28, 2014 at 5:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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That's more a case of a moron being a moron, then a drone-problem.

If the pilot had volunteered to film the fires for the firedepts, and co-ordinated, he probably could have aided them to direct the fire fighting efforts more efficiently.

The key to all of this - both with the changes you're facing in the US, and what we're facing here in Aus, is to communicate with the relevant authorities, exactly the same as we have to when having weapons (or look-a-like weapons) on a film set.

July 29, 2014 at 7:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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PiDicus Rex

That's my point, really: the news headline wasn't about "morons" it was about someone flying drones in a dangerous situation and causing problems. So in the public (and government's) eye, the problem is drones. (Especially among all the people who were evacuated, worried about their homes, and relying on firefighters.) And the only way folks will think to solve that problem is with tighter regulations. It's one of the reasons we have some pretty stupid laws here in the US -- they end up being the defacto way to deal with morons.

July 29, 2014 at 10:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I saw a guy flying a drone in Sequoia National Forest 2 days ago

July 28, 2014 at 6:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Alan Torres

With a permit, you can fly in U.S. National Parks.

July 29, 2014 at 4:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Raphael

I was at Zion National Park today talking to the person in charge of special use permits. I was told that remote controlled drones are not allowed in any national park and that you can not get a permit to fly them even for photography. I was trying to get a commercial permit to fly a quad copter and film some of our products. NO RC flying in national parks. Period.

August 1, 2014 at 7:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I think there's a difference between 'national park' and 'national forest'. National forest land is allowed, as far as I know. I've flown in the Mt. Hood national forest in Oregon. It is not listed as prohibited land on the map mentioned above. Crater Lake National Park (also in Oregon) IS prohibited.

July 16, 2015 at 5:32PM

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John King
105

is the map locked to north America? when I drag the map to outside NA it snaps back, even though it looks like there's data on the other continents...

July 28, 2014 at 7:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I do believe this red circles move wherever I go.

July 29, 2014 at 10:53AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Do not fly over Donetsk either.

July 29, 2014 at 11:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

You can fly one pretty much any where in Africa.

July 29, 2014 at 12:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Josh

Well in the near future that map will be completely covered in no fly zones for commercial usage. The FAA already has there laws written out and are having people comment on them before they are sent to congress. Basically there laws states that if your flying and getting paid for it that will be illegal. You will have to get a pilot license and let the FAA know that your doing this sort of thing. But if you fly for fun/personal use, even if there is a camera on it then thats ok. I feel its coming down to greed, I see it like this: FAA is seeing people flying UAVs around and being compensated for it. FAA says "wait were not getting a cut from that compensation." So in their eyes that seems unfair, "so lets charge these UAV pilots high prices and require them to get full scale pilot license in order for them to do their jobs, now thats fair"

July 29, 2014 at 3:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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bert

Amusing how Area 51 get its own little designation (well within the red).

July 29, 2014 at 5:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Too bad this is only a US map. I would like to see the rest of the world as well.

July 30, 2014 at 3:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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ananymous

so i live in san francisco.the map says i cannot film alcatraz but the surrounding water is okay. can i just go on a boat and fly the drone around the island?

August 11, 2014 at 4:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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mike

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August 12, 2014 at 9:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ironic how some of the no fly zones are the least populated areas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-v0qylrd_g

September 17, 2014 at 6:07AM

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Dirk Nienaber
Filmmaker
81

Yes, people should not be flying these things around airports, but national parks? A couple of years ago two elderly hikers got lost at the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. They died, and their bodies were not found until several days later. The family wanted to use a drone to help locate the two individuals (I believe it was a military drone from an Air Force base), but the park service would not let them. It is hard to say for certain, but maybe, just maybe, those two people would be alive today if a drone had been used to search for them.

October 23, 2015 at 3:22PM

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Edwin Rea
Music Composition, Screen Writing, Novelist
98