If you’ve ever seen a drone fly, you know they can go pretty high. There are lots of videos on YouTube that show drones flying hundreds of feet above the ground, but those are generally done by professional pilots who understand the rules and how to stay safe at high altitudes.
You can legally fly a drone within 400 feet of a structure or above 400 feet, but not if you are directly over it. The FAA requires drone operators to keep their drones in sight at all times and not to fly higher than 400 feet.
These days, even non-pros can get their hands on an expensive drone that can fly very high—but as with any hobby or technology these days, there are plenty of people who don’t know how to use their drone safely or legally.
So, it’s not surprising that some people want to know: how High Can You Fly A Drone Legally? Let’s take a look at what the regulations say about this question!
Faa Limitations For How High You Can Fly
The FAA has some restrictions on how high you can fly a drone. The maximum altitude is 400 feet above the ground level and 400 feet above the tallest obstacle within 400 feet of your drone.
Many people want to know what they can do if they want to fly their drones higher than this, or if they need to know how to check if their drone is flying too low.
In general, it’s not recommended that you fly your drone at any height that is higher than 400 feet above ground level. This is because there is a chance that another aircraft might hit your UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) if it gets in their way while trying to land or take off from an airport runway.
What Do The Part 107 Rules Say?
The FAA’s Part 107 rules say that you can fly drones 400 feet above the ground. But what if you want to fly higher?
- You can get a waiver from the FAA if something like an airport or power lines is in your flight path. The FAA will consider whether they should be able to be seen with binoculars (yep, they have their own set of rules).
- If you’re a hobbyist, not-for-profit and have been flying for less than two years, then the FAA says you can fly up to 20 miles away from your takeoff point. But remember: there are no waivers for this rule!
- If you’re a commercial drone pilot who’s not using the drone for research or education purposes, then they must stay within 400 feet of any structure (including people) and five miles out from airports without permission from air traffic control.
What’s The Basis For The 400-foot Limit?
The 400-foot limit is based on the FAA’s interpretation of the 400-foot limit in the Part 107 rules. The FAA made a decision that they can provide air traffic control from an altitude of 400 feet or lower, so that’s where they set their limit.
It’s not a law; it’s just a regulation, which means it could change at any time if the government wanted to change it.
Flying Over Structures In Controlled Airspace
In controlled airspace, you need to get a waiver for flying above structures. A waiver gives you permission to do something that is normally not allowed. In this case, it’s being allowed to fly over buildings that are below 400 feet AGL (ground level).
You don’t need a waiver if your drone is under 400 feet AGL and in uncontrolled airspace (the area between the surface of the earth and 18,000 feet MSL).
From What Reference Point Should 400 Feet Be Measured From?
400 feet is measured from the ground, not from the drone itself. This is a new rule that only came into effect in 2017, so you can’t blame yourself for not knowing about it before.
However, because this is a maximum limit and not a minimum one (i.e., there aren’t any rules that say you can only fly your drone 400 feet high), don’t assume that flying higher than 400 feet will get you in trouble with the FAA.
It’s just something to keep in mind when calculating how high above ground you’re allowed to fly your drone legally.
Is It Physically Possible For Drones To Fly Above 400 Feet?
Drones are capable of flying at high altitudes, but you’re most likely going to have trouble getting your drone up there depending on the model.
For example, the DJI Spark can only fly up to 16 feet in the air, while its higher-end sibling—the Mavic Pro—can reach 49 feet. While some drones might be able to go higher, they may not be able to stay stable or navigate well enough to hold their position without running into something.
As long as your drone stays within its flight restrictions, you shouldn’t have any issues with using it around town or even over large buildings and highways (as long as they don’t have low ceilings). You’ll just want to avoid flying near airports so that you don’t interfere with incoming traffic.
Can I Get A Waiver For Drone Flight Above 400 Feet Agl?
If you want to fly your drone above 400 feet AGL, you can apply for a waiver. However, the FAA may deny your request if they decide it’s not in the public interest. To get a waiver from the FAA:
- You must have a good reason for flying higher than 400 feet AGL. For example, you may need to shoot footage of something that would be blocked by tall buildings or trees.
- You’ll have to prove that safety is not compromised by flying at that height. In other words, make sure there’s nothing in the area (people or vehicles) that could get into trouble if hit by an errant drone or object falling off one.
- You should have a plan in place to mitigate any potential damage caused by falling drones or objects such as rocks carried away by strong winds; this includes having insurance ready beforehand and putting up signs warning people about possible dangers like these if they enter an area where they might encounter falling drones or rocks from above
What About Hobbyists?
In the United States, one of the best ways to learn about drones is through the Federal Aviation Administration’s website. It contains many useful resources, such as information on where you can fly your drone and how to register.
For example, when you’re flying a drone for recreational purposes (i.e., not for commercial reasons), there are different rules depending on where you live:
- If you live in a remote area with no air traffic control tower or airport nearby, then it’s legal for hobbyists like yourself to fly drones up to 400 feet in altitude above ground level (AGL).
- You’ll want to keep your drone within sight at all times when flying at this height; otherwise it will be considered an “unmanned aircraft system.”
- In populated areas that have air traffic control towers or airports nearby (including all major cities), hobbyists are still allowed only 400 feet AGL but can use their UAS without having line-of-sight contact with it as long as they remain within five miles of where they originally took off from
Special Considerations For Flying A Drone At High Altitudes
If you’re planning to fly your drone at high altitude, then there are some things you should know. The FAA defines “high altitude” as any point above 400 feet above the ground.
High altitude flight is a bit more complicated than simply staying below 400 feet, because the FAA also considers airspace over an airport or military base to be “controlled.”
This means that unless you have permission from air traffic control (ATC), it’s illegal for you to fly in this airspace at high altitudes.
In order for ATC to give you permission to enter controlled airspace or fly at high altitudes, they’ll need proof that:
- Your drone can safely operate at those altitudes
- You understand how far away your drone should be from other aircraft and other people on the ground
How To Make Sure You Stay Below The Limits
- Check the local laws. Before flying, check the laws of where you want to fly. Laws are different from state to state and even from city to city.
- Stay below 400 feet (122 meters). This is a pretty low ceiling for most drones, but it’s important that you stay below this limit for your own safety as well as other people’s safety.
Technology Limitations On Drone Altitude
As you’ve probably guessed, there are some limitations to the technology of drones. The most notable is that battery life is still a problem for most drones. While the batteries have gotten better over time, there’s still a limit to how long they can fly and how far they can travel in one charge.
This means that in areas with high winds and other factors which might affect flight stability (like trees), it may not be possible for a drone to reach its full altitude potential because it will run out of power before reaching its highest point.
Another limitation on drone altitude comes from the fact that we’re still in an early stage of human-drone interaction; as such, there aren’t any standards set by lawmakers on just how high is too high for drones to fly (or if there even should be).
As such, each state or country has different rules governing this issue depending on their local laws and regulations developed by legislators after examining their own needs regarding counterterrorism measures versus privacy concerns—and all these factors are subject to change over time as new threats emerge or older ones recede into history
Tips For Flying Your Drone At A High Altitude
Before you get up high, there are some things to consider.
Watch The Battery
When you’re flying high, it can be easy to forget about the battery. But as with any appliance, an electric drone’s power source has a limited lifespan. So do your best to keep an eye on its charge level and plan accordingly! Here are some tips for maximizing your flight time:
- Avoid flying at higher altitudes if possible. Flying at lower altitude is more efficient than flying high because of how the air pressure changes with increasing height above sea level.
- Flying higher means that your drone will have to work harder for its lift, which can reduce your overall flight time by 30%. If there is no way around it, try not to go too far up—an altitude of 1,000 feet (300 meters) should suffice unless otherwise specified by local laws or regulations.
- Bring extra batteries if possible; you never know when they’ll run out mid-flight! It’s important to keep in mind that batteries perform less efficiently in cold temperatures—the ideal range is between 20°C and 25°C (68°F – 77°F)—so if possible avoid early morning or late afternoon flights outdoors during winter months when temperatures are at their lowest point of the day
Fly In A Quiet Area
The first thing to consider is where you should fly your drone. Flying in a quiet area can help you avoid detection by others, and it will also help prevent collisions with other aircraft and people or animals on the ground.
Additionally, flying in a quiet area means that you won’t have to worry about your drone colliding with objects (such as trees) while it’s in the air.
It’s important that you follow all laws regarding where drones are allowed when flying one near an airport or heliport (within five miles). If there are any restrictions on what type of drones are allowed within these areas, they must still comply with those restrictions even if they’re not legally required to do so otherwise.
Stay Within The Legal Limits
Stay Below 400 Feet Agl
The law requires all aircraft (including drones) to remain below 400 feet AGL when flying within 3 miles of an airport, or within 4 miles of the runway. However, if you’re operating your drone in this zone according to the rules and regulations from the FAA, then you should be able to fly at a much higher altitude than that.
For example, if you keep your drone within 100 feet of a populated area or any structure below 400′ AGL after taking off from any location greater than 3 miles from an airport runway, a tower controller will assume that it’s safe for them to clear other aircraft away from your flight path so that they don’t interfere with each other too much during takeoff and landing (which can get pretty busy). In addition:
Stay Far Away From People/property
If there are people around where you’re flying — especially someone on foot — give them plenty of room! Do not fly closer than 15ft horizontally or 30ft vertically above their heads unless they agree beforehand by waving at their device while shouting “yes” repeatedly until everyone else sees
The FAA encourages drone operators to fly below 400 feet and within sight of the operator. This means that if you’re at, say, a sporting event, it’s okay for your drone to be up in the air as long as it’s out of the way of other people.
With the tips provided, you can fly your drone at high altitudes without breaking the law. The bottom line is that you should pay attention to your altitude when flying, and not just because it’s required by the FAA.
It’s also important because it can affect your drone’s ability to perform maneuvers or stay in contact with its controller due to signal loss over long distances.
Frequently Asked Questions (how High Can You Fly A Drone Legally)
How High Can You Fly A Drone Without Worrying?
How high can you fly a drone? That is a question that many drone hobbyists ask themselves. It’s important to know the answer to this question because flying too close to airports or over populated areas can result in fines and even jail time.
As with all laws, the answer is complicated. There are federal regulations that apply across the United States, but each state also has its own set of rules that must be followed as well.
Some counties may have additional restrictions on top of those set by states and municipalities may restrict flying drones within city limits as well. However, there is one thing for certain when it comes to flying drones: If you want to fly one legally, it’s best to check your local and state regulations first!
What Is The Legal Height Limit For Flying A Drone?
The maximum allowable altitude regulation for drones is 400 feet. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If you fly your drone in a national park or within five miles of an airport, then the maximum altitude allowed is 200 feet.
What does that mean? Well, if you’re flying in a national park or within five miles of an airport and want to go above 400 feet, then you will need permission from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).
Are There Any Exceptions To The Maximum Allowable Altitude Regulation?
No, there are no exceptions to the maximum allowable altitude regulation. However, there are a few exceptions to drone flight safety rules that allow drones to fly higher than 400 feet:
- Military and law enforcement drones operating in accordance with an FAA Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) or a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
- Firefighting drones flying at altitudes below 400 feet when conducting wildfire suppression operations
- Research UAS flights conducted by academic institutions for educational purposes
How High Can You Legally Fly A Drone?
In the United States, you can legally fly a drone up to 400 feet above the ground. Both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Canada have set a maximum altitude of 400 feet for drones.
However, if your drone weighs more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams), you’ll need to register it with the FAA; if it weighs less than that, registration isn’t required but is recommended.
A drone operator must always be within visual line of sight with their drone—no matter how high or low they’re flying—which means that it’s not permissible for them to fly higher than 200 feet without supervision from someone who is on the ground watching them at all times.
Who Regulates Drones Flying In Us Airspace?
For anyone who wants to fly a drone in the US, it’s important to know that there are certain rules you need to follow. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has authority over all airspace in the US and therefore has final say on how drones can be used.
The FAA is also responsible for enforcing these rules and regulations, so if you’re planning on flying your drone outdoors or even just outside your home, you’ll want to make sure that what you are doing is legal based on their guidelines.