You just bought a drone, and you’re jonesing to begin flying it in your neighborhood. Are you allowed to fly your drone in your neighborhood?
Can you fly Drones in Residential Areas? You can fly a drone in your neighborhood, including in your own backyard, around your property, and even around your neighbors’ property. Take care to use your drone in such a way as to avoid harassing or spying on your neighbors, as that may be a crime.
In today’s article, we’ll break down all the activities you can do with your drone around your neighborhood, discussing which are legal and which aren’t. Make sure you check it out!
Can I Fly A Drone In My Own Backyard?
You got your Federal Aviation Administration recreational drone license, and you even registered your drone since you had to.
Your drone is officially ready to hit the skies, but you’re a little reluctant to take it out into public just yet. You want to practice with it, and you figure there’s no better place to do so than your own backyard.
That is indeed true, and fortunately, you’re wholly permitted to fly your drone around your yard as you so wish.
The privacy of your yard will allow you to try out all the commands of your new drone until you get used to them. Then you can take her out for a real spin at your local park.
When practicing in your yard, we would advise you to follow FAA flight rules.
Sure, it’s just you in your yard, but it’s good practice to get used to obeying the FAA’s regulations, as you’re going to have to whenever you fly your drone moving forward anyway.
We’d also caution you to stay within your own property lines. This is just a courtesy to your next-door neighbors on either side of you.
If you have a fence, then it’s as easy as don’t fly over the fence. Should you not have a fence, then stay within the property lines that you know for sure are yours.
Can I Fly A Drone Over My Own Property?
As you begin gaining more drone experience by practicing in your yard, you might want to fly your drone around your home. Can you?
Once again, you can indeed. It’s your property, after all.
As we recommended before, once again, be sure to follow the FAA’s rules and you’ll be fine.
Now, your next-door neighbors might be annoyed by the buzzing of your drone, as they can hear it living adjacent to you.
While they may be peeved, technically, you’re not doing anything wrong. You’re on your own property, which is why we talked about property lines in the prior section.
That said, if you’re considering taking up flying drones as a long-term hobby, we don’t recommend getting on the bad side of your neighbors.
Talk to them and try to work something out. Perhaps you only fly your drone during certain hours or on certain days.
Whatever terms you agree to, both sides should do their best to stick to those terms to keep the peace.
After all, someday, you may no longer fly your drone, but you’ll probably still live next to your neighbors. Having an acrimonious relationship makes your day-to-day living less enjoyable, and it’s not worth it over a drone.
Can I Fly A Drone Over Other Houses In The Neighborhood?
Eventually, flying over your own property is going to get kind of boring. You’re looking for a new sense of novelty.
Can you legally expand your drone flight horizons and use the UAV around your neighborhood?
Indeed, you can! This is something we discussed in another recent post on the blog that you can check out.
The FAA, which establishes rules for flights of all nature (including drone flights), regulates airspace over 400 feet. Anything under that is uncontrolled airspace, which means you’re free to fly.
Now, as we also discussed in that post, some state and local laws might try to prohibit neighborhood drone activity. The FAA, being a federal agency, trumps any ordinances on a statewide or local level.
That doesn’t mean you can fly without any potential risk of punishment. While state and legal laws might not be able to keep your drone out of the sky, you are typically outlawed from behaviors that would cause distress or injury to others.
Here are some activities we’d expressly tell you not to do.
Harass Others With Your Drone
Flying in the vicinity of innocent passersby on your street who are just going about their lives often constitutes harassment.
The residents of your neighborhood are entitled to be outside their homes without a drone getting too close to them and bothering them.
If they call the cops on you, you will get in trouble.
Spy On Or Stalk Others With Your Drone
Using your drone to stalk people, either from a distance or more blatantly, or to spy on them is barred.
Spying on someone with a drone can entail watching them through an open window, filming them when outside of their house with your drone camera, or even trying to enter their home with your drone.
Injure Someone With Your Drone
Your drone should never be close to another person where you could cause them injury.
UAVs have so many moving parts that can be very harmful to people, including the propellers.
Even with prop guards, when a drone is flying at high speeds, it can do some serious damage.
Damage Personal Property With Your Drone
Speaking of damage, you also should not use your drone to harm someone else’s personal property in your neighborhood.
Weaponize Your Drone
By far the most serious of crimes, or one of them at least, is using your drone as a weapon. This is a severely punishable crime.
If you do get caught committing one or more of the above drone crimes, what kinds of punishments should you expect?
Well, those vary by state, but at the very least, you will be fined. The most severe punishment is jailtime.
Most drone crimes are misdemeanors for your first offense but can become felonies if you’re a repeat offender. Both the fines you must pay and the time spent in jail will increase as your charge are more offensive.
Can I Fly A Drone On Residential Streets?
You’re interested in flying your drone over your neighborhood’s streets. You’ve gotten used to filming or taking photos with your drone camera, and you think the streets are the perfect backdrop.
If no one is on the road at the time you want to use your drone, then you’re allowed. However, the FAA bars pilots from flying over any moving vehicles.
We just unpacked the reasons why that is in a recent blog post, so this will be a recap.
Drones are disruptive to drivers. Their presence can confuse a driver and cause them to get into an accident. Swerving away from a drone can also make a driver crash.
Of course, this is far less of a detrimental occurrence on a residential street than on a four-lane highway, but it doesn’t matter. If there’s even one moving vehicle on your street, then you cannot fly your drone there.
If you live on a cul-de-sac or you’re in a sleepy neighborhood, then you should easily be able to find some quiet time to fly a drone in the street.
For those who live on a major road, traffic generally slows very late at night.
You might have to stay up way past your bedtime, but if you want to fly your drone on a residential street, then it will be worth it!
If you’re interested in flying a drone in your neighborhood, the good news is you can! You’re free to fly in your own backyard, around your property, and even around your neighbors’ property.
You can also operate your drone on residential streets provided that no cars are on the road at the time.
Always follow FAA guidelines when flying your drone and have your recreational license handy in case any of your neighbors try to give you trouble.