Finally got that DJI Phantom drone you’ve been saving up for? Your planning is only half done — now you have to figure out where you can fly it! And if you’re living in New York City, you might be wondering if you’ll ever get to take it out of the box and film the skyline.
New York City’s drone operation rules are a little murky, especially if you’re flying a drone to film for commercial purposes, such as selling the videos or photos taken by your drone camera. And before you can even fly drones commercially, you need a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating or be supervised by someone who holds this certificate.
While most of NYC area falls within five miles of an airport, which requires air-traffic control clearance to fly inside, there are a number of parks around the boroughs that are perfect for getting those great drone shots.
1. Calvert Vaux Park, Brooklyn
Near Coney Island, Calvert Vaux is one of a few parks in the boroughs with a designated Model Aircraft Field. While you usually need a paid membership to access these fields, they are the only areas where flying drones is expressly permitted.
2. Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
You are almost never allowed to fly within five miles of an airport, but this park near LaGuardia contains one of the Model Aircraft Fields where you can fly and film with your drone as long as you’re following their safety guidelines.
3. Prospect Park, Brooklyn
Prospect Park doesn’t have a designated area for flying, but it falls outside the five-mile airport radius where drones are banned. Its size and scenery also make it a beautiful place to grab some drone footage — just make sure you aren’t flying over any people.
4. Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Far from the airports and by the ocean, Pelham Bay Park has stunning views and tons of space for flying and capturing video.
5. Central Park, Manhattan
Central Park is a bit trickier for flying drones and filming because only parts of it fall outside the airport radius, it’s usually crowded, and the park rules prohibit flying model aircraft. However, how their rules affect commercial drones is unclear. If you really want to film in Manhattan, itself, you can try flying here, but stay away from people and follow the guidelines below or you could find yourself charged with reckless endangerment.
Avoid trouble while flying a drone for commercial purposes:
- Get a remote pilot certificate.
- Don’t fly within the five-mile airport radius.
- Register any drone that weighs over half a pound.
- Keep your drone within your line of sight.
- Only operate your drone during daylight hours.
- Don’t fly over 400 feet.
- Don’t fly over people.
- Don’t fly, film, or photograph over private property.
- Always check the legality of where you plan to fly and follow all of the FAA’s new rules for commercial drone operators.
Now that you know the rules and city parks where you can fly, where will you be filming your next drone shots?
Are you looking for a drone operator? Hire a freelancer or production company.