Drones are everywhere these days, and they are becoming increasingly popular as a hobby. Like most new things, there are many misconceptions about them. One of the more common myths is how high drones fly.

I’ve seen people believe that you can fly a drone anywhere, but is this correct? In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the flights that have gone wrong and the truth about where drones can and cannot legally be flown.

Average Heights Of Drones

How high do drones fly? That can change from drone to drone. The altitude of a drone is largely dependent on what it’s being used for and who is flying it. As with other types of technology, the complexity of drones varies widely depending upon their intended use.

The average altitude of a consumer-grade quadcopter tends to vary between 100 feet and 400 feet above ground level (AGL), that is, between the height of an average two-story house (100 ft) and an eight-story skyscraper (400ft).

However, if you’re just flying your drone around for fun, it’s best to keep it lower—around only 20 feet off the ground. Not only will this keep your drone out of most airspace regulations, but it also means you won’t lose sight of your drone.

On the flip side, professional drones used for photography or videography can reach altitudes as high as 400 meters or 1,300 feet AGL—that’s higher than both the Washington Monument and the Statue of Liberty! These are typically larger drones that come equipped with high quality cameras and extra flight batteries.

We aren’t suggesting that you take your new recreational quadcopter on a joyride up to 400 meters in order to get great shots (in fact, there are laws against doing so). Instead, we recommend finding a spot with panoramic views and taking some bird’s eye photos from there!

Drone Restrictions

Now that you know how high drones can fly, you may be wondering how to determine what restrictions are right for your flight. For instance, each country has its own drone laws, but the rules can change depending on the region in which you intend to fly.

The laws can also change depending on whether you’re flying recreationally or commercially. Finally, the regulations may differ depending on whether you’re flying an electric drone or a gas-powered drone.

How High Do Drones Fly In The Air?

The FAA doesn’t have a maximum height for drones.

However, the FAA does limit how high commercial drones can go. Commercial users must keep their UAS under 400 feet in altitude.

If your drone is to be used for any recreational purposes, you are not allowed to fly it over 400 feet. However, there’s an exception for model aircraft operated in accordance with a community-based organization’s set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization. If this sounds like you, check out section 336 of Public Law 112-95 which provides all the details you’ll need.

In some cases, military operations require even higher altitudes than civilian operations do. Military use is generally unregulated by the FAA and instead left up to individual branches of government or law enforcement agencies such as local police or the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency).

In many instances, drone pilots operating at high altitudes are required to obtain additional certifications beyond those needed for operation at lower levels.

Drone Battery Life And Limitations

Battery life is a major factor in how high drones can fly. If the drone doesn’t have enough power, it’ll drop from the sky. The bigger the battery, the longer flight time that’s possible.

However, adding more weight to the drone reduces its ability to stay aloft as long. The more power a drone uses, the more quickly its battery will be depleted and it’ll lose altitude and come crashing down.

What Are The Consequences Of Flying Drone Above 400ft

The FAA is adamant about staying below 400ft for a variety of reasons. For example, if you fly above this altitude, your risk of crashing into an airplane increases significantly. Additionally, flying above 400ft can be fatal to a drone in the event of a malfunction because it will have too much distance to fall before it hits the ground.

In the United States, it’s a federal offence to fly any aircraft including drones above 400ft (120m). You could receive “administrative action” including fines up to $25,000 USD and lose your pilot certificates if you were breaking any laws while operating the drone. If there is “willful misconduct,” then you may face criminal charges as well.

Your Drone Will Be More Prone To Being Out Of The Range Of Signals From Your Transmitter

One thing that’s important to know is that the higher you fly, the more likely your drone will be out of range of your transmitter. If a drone flies outside of its signal range, it can become unstable and crash due to lack of connection with the transmitter.

Another thing to discuss is radio interference. Just as cell phones and other radio devices create static or drop calls when they get too far away from the signal tower, drones are also at risk of experiencing this if they fly too high into the sky.

Radio waves are more likely to be absorbed by objects like buildings and trees at lower altitudes, but once your drone gets high enough, it will no longer be protected from these waves and may start experiencing problems with signal loss or crashing.

It’s Illegal To Fly Drones Above 400 Feet

The most obvious reason to keep your craft below 400 feet is that it’s illegal—and violation of this rule can get you into serious trouble with the FAA and may result in large fines. But that’s not the biggest issue here: being higher up also means that it takes longer for your drone to fall, which increases the chance of damage if it does end up taking a tumble from an altitude above 400 feet.

Additionally, other potential risks increase once you start getting higher than 400 feet in the air: for one thing, it becomes much more likely that you’ll accidentally run into something like a helicopter or an airplane (another reason why planes are limited to altitudes above 500 feet).

You Might Collide Into Another Drone And Bring It Down

If you fly your drone above 400 feet and you lose it, the chances are that it will never be found. Flying at such heights is not only dangerous but also illegal.

It is not worth losing a $500 plus investment because of thrill-seeking behavior or because you want to get a bird’s eye view of your neighborhood or town. If you want to shoot videos or take photos of your area, fly below 400 feet and use the zoom function on your camera.

Remember, if your altitude transgression causes damage to someone or something, then you might have a lawsuit to deal with, and believe me; those legal battles are expensive.

The Faa Can Take Away A Remote Pilot’s Certificate

The Federal Aviation Administration can take away a remote pilot’s certificate if they violate the rules. The FAA will review the safety of the operation and will determine if additional enforcement is needed.

If a remote pilot violates one or more regulations, depending on the severity and how often they have violated them before, the FAA can take away their certificate for anywhere from 120 days to permanently.

They specifically look at whether or not a person has been flying in a careless or reckless manner. If this is shown to be true, then it is almost guaranteed that their privileges will be taken away for some amount of time.

This revocation process can include any violation of Part 107 regulations such as flying outside visual line-of-sight, flying higher than 400ft above ground level and failing to let air traffic control know about your flight plans through approved notification methods.

You Could Be Fined Thousands Of Dollars By The Faa

If you fly a drone in the United States, you should be aware of the FAA’s rules and regulations. The FAA is the Federal Aviation Administration, and they are responsible for regulating civil aviation in the nation. The FAA regulates everything related to flying, including drones/UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles).

Repeated or serious violations can lead to criminal charges and large fines. For most drone operators, especially if it is their first violation of FAA regulations, a warning letter will be issued for minor violations.

First time violators without a history of violating FAA regulations may only receive a warning letter from the FAA. This warning letter will let the recipient know that he or she has violated one or more specific FAA regulation(s) but will not impose any penalty.

However, this warning letter will also inform the recipient that these types of violations could result in civil penalties in the future if repeated or if there are other violations (of any type).

You Might Crash Into An Airplane Or Even A Helicopter

However, it’s important to remember that a drone is not a fighter jet. Drones are much more lightweight than airplanes, and their engines (even drones with cameras) aren’t nearly as powerful. Flying your drone higher than 400 feet increases the chance of damaging the structure of your drone; flying it even higher will almost definitely result in a costly crash.

Additionally, drones have been known to hit helicopters, especially when flying at high altitudes. In 2018, Los Angeles County firefighters were attacked by a camera drone while attempting to control a blaze in the Hollywood Hills—a fire that was started, ironically enough, by the crash of yet another drone.

Though there were no serious injuries in this case (and the drone operator was later fined over $3700), collisions between aircrafts can prove fatal for human pilots or anyone else on board.

In 2014, an Argentinian helicopter crashed after being struck by a model plane during filming of an animal rights documentary—an accident that killed both pilots and two French citizens who were also aboard.

Frequently Asked Question (how High Do Drones Fly)

What Is The Safest Altitude For Drones To Fly?

The FAA sets 400 feet as the maximum altitude for most drone flights, but this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. If you can fly your drone lower than 400 feet while still staying within line of sight, you should do so.

Is It Illegal To Fly A Drone Above 400 Feet?

It’s important to note that the 400 foot limit is not a hard and fast rule. The FAA has not set a maximum height for drone flight, nor has it set a minimum height for drone flight. The FAA also hasn’t set a maximum weight for drone flight—but we’ll get to that later.

So, if you’re wondering whether or not it’s legal to fly your drone above 400 feet, the answer is yes! But keep in mind that this is just our own interpretation of existing regulations and laws—there may be other rules or restrictions on how high your flying machine can go before crossing over into airspace controlled by another agency (such as air traffic control).

How High Do Most Drones Fly?

Most drones fly at around 400 feet. This is the maximum height that a drone can fly without being subject to rules introduced in June 2014.

Here’s where it gets a bit more complicated. The maximum altitude for drones is 500 feet above ground level (AGL), but there are exceptions for certain operations:

  • Drones can only operate above 400 ft AGL if they have received specific permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
  • Drones must not be flown closer than 150 metres from buildings or structures
  • Drones cannot be flown within 50 metres of any person, vehicle, vessel or structure not under the control of their operator

Can You Fly A Drone In The Clouds?

Sure, you can fly your drone in the clouds. However, it’s not recommended that you do so for a number of reasons.

The first reason is because there are many things that can happen when flying around and through clouds. For one thing, if it were to rain or snow while you’re inside a cloud, then your drone might become wet and possibly damaged as well.

Another reason why it’s not recommended to fly drones inside clouds is because they tend to be very dark and difficult for pilots to see where they’re going or what they’re doing with their drones when flying them through the clouds; therefore, it would be much safer if they stayed out of these areas altogether until they get their pilots certified on how best manage these situations before trying them again (if ever).

Do Drones Need Special Weather Conditions To Perform Well?

You don’t need to worry about your drone being damaged by weather conditions.

Most drones are designed to fly in most weather conditions, but some models have more advanced features for flying in extreme conditions. If you want to fly a drone outdoors in heavy rain or snow, there are some limitations.

For example, if it’s raining heavily enough that water is dripping off the trees, it’s probably not safe for your drone to be outside too long!


The limits of what drones can do are rapidly improving. As they become more commonplace in our everyday lives, we’ll continue to see new innovations that allow drones to fly higher, longer and faster. Who knows, maybe someday you’ll be able to get a drone that can fly higher than any other aircraft!

Even if your drone isn’t able to reach the same heights as an airplane or a helicopter, don’t let this deter you from enjoying everything it has to offer. For now at least, flying a drone high enough for it to be a nuisance is still against the law.

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