Flying a drone in Pennsylvania is definitely not for the light of heart. Though it’s a beautiful state, there are a lot of underlying issues where drones are concerned. Users should take extreme caution where they fly to ensure that no problems arise.
Going forward, understanding the limits and regulations for drone use in Pennsylvania will ensure that you have what you need to fly where you’re supposed to.
Learn All The Drone Rules & Regulations
This article will give a brief overview of the laws in your state, but we can’t keep cover all the minutae in only two thousand words. That’s why we highly recommend that you do some research on your own time and, ideally, enroll in a professional course if you’re actually looking to get certified. Though there’s lots of options for learning more about drone laws, we highly recommend the#1 Rated Professional Course: Drone Pilot Ground School. Get $50 Off as a Dronethusiast reader, just click the link and sign up. It’s a great way to learn about drone laws and piloting that’s cheaper than most of its competition, you can purchase it once and own it forever and they’re constantly updating their professional training.
All that said, let’s move on to the important stuff.
Flying Over Pennsylvania
The Delaware River’s Cooper River Park in Jersey in an absolute gem for flying over and getting some good scenery shots. It holds some of the best horizon views that Philadelphia has to offer and features a quiet park on the riverfront that is perfect for flying in a sunset or sunrise.
Knight Park, also in Jersey, features distant skyline views of Philadelphia and a backdrop that looks incredible when the season of autumn hits. It’s a perfect recreational space in Collingswood that any drone user will enjoy.
Pennsylvania has some amazing state parks that are also wonderful to fly a drone in, as well. Beltzville, Benjamin Rush, Hillman, Lackawanna, Prompton and Tuscarora State Park are the only parks owned by the state where flying a drone is allowed, so feel free to take full advantage!
The Registering Process in Pennsylvania
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that all Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) owners follow strict regulations and laws. You will need to file your name, home address and your email address as a start.
From there, you will receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration and Proof of Ownership. These will include an identification number for your aircraft. You must have this number displayed on your drone at all times. The number will be valid for up to three years.
All aircraft that weighs more than 0.55 pounds, or 250 grams, and less than 55 pounds, or 25 kilograms, must be registered. This also includes any added payloads, such as an onboard camera.
You must be at least 13-years-old in order to register and, effective December 21st, 2015, all newly purchased or made drones must be registered before their first flight. You are able to register through a paper-based process, but you can also do so online by clicking here.
Proximity to Airports in Illinois
As a general rule of thumb, and in accordance with the law from the FAA, you may not fly within a 5-mile radius of any airport. In 2012 the FAA enacted the Modernization and Reauthorization Act which requires hobbyist drone operators, meaning residential, to contact air traffic control and/or airport management if they are operating within a 5-mile radius of any local airport.
This is enacted nationwide, not only in Pennsylvania, under Part 101 of the Act, being Special Rule for Model Aircraft, to ensure that drone operations under unsafe conditions are disapproved before the drone can be launched.
Regardless of the local airport you will be flying near, and possibly breaching airspace, you will need to contact either the airport air traffic control tower or the airport operator.
You will need to establish an agreed-upon operating procedure with airport air traffic or the airport operator and answer a couple of questions. For example, questions relating to how long you are going to be flying for.
Unique Drone Laws in Pennsylvania
At this time, of writing, there are no drone laws in the state of Pennsylvania aside from the rules and regulations put in place by the FAA. However, multiple bills were proposed in the past but none has officially passed to date.
One of these bills, Senate Bill 1332, was proposed on the grounds of concern over interference that unmanned aircraft can have during fishing, hunting, tracking, etc. Like the others, however, it never came to pass.
Should any proposed bill or law pass and become enacted in the state of Pennsylvania, we will update this section for your use.
Though there are no official drone laws currently in effect in the state of Pennsylvania, that does not mean users can operate however they wish to do so. There are certain restrictions and rules that have been put in place by the state and a handful of state parks.
Other Legal Issues With Drones in Pennsylvania
The main issue that many drone users in Pennsylvania have been facing is generally flying within state parks. More specifically, Tyler State Park has given a number of drone users a problem of not being able to fly in the park unclear reasons.
Therefore, it’s important that you educate yourself on flying in state parks that allow you to do so. You will need to look into which areas are designated for flying, comply with all of the regulations and rules, and ensure that you are not flying in any of the Bureau of State park locations that are restricted.
FAQ on Pennsylvania Rules and Drones
If you do not see your question, or an answer to it, listed below, feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll gladly give you one.
Is a drone/UAS considered the same as a model aircraft?
The United States Congress has defined and concluded that a model aircraft is only considered a drone or a UAS when the following points are met:
It’s flown for recreational purposes or as a hobby and not for any business or commercial reasons
It’s flown within visible distance, meaning being able to see it at all times, of the individual operating it
It’s capable of sustaining flight within the atmosphere, meaning that it can fly
If your model aircraft, regardless of whether or not you acquired it pre-built or built it yourself, meets the above points to your knowledge, it’s considered a drone/UAS.
What is the Small UAS Rule?
The Small UAS Rule requires those who have unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, that weigh less than 55 pounds, payload included, to register their aircraft with the FAA. This only applies to recreational or hobby fliers and not commercial drone use, however.
Is the FAA’s Small UAS Rule still in effect?
Yes, it has been in effect from August 29th of 2016 and is still in effect at this time of writing.
Do I have to carry my Certificate of Aircraft Registration while flying my UAS at all times?
Yes, you must have the registration certificate from the FAA at all times during flight operation. In accordance with federal law, all UAS operators must show their certificate of registration to any local, state, or federal law enforcement officer when they are asked to do so.
What do I do for registration if my UAS is over the 55-pound limit?
If your UAS weighs more than 55 pounds, including payload, you will need to register it by clicking here.
How do I request flight permission from Air Traffic Control to operate within airspace class B, C, D, or E?
You can contact Air Traffic Control for flight permission through the FAA portal available online by clicking here.
Drone Laws in Pennsylvania
Though the state of Pennsylvania can be pretty restrictive on where you’re flying a drone, gathering as much information as you can on state regulations and rules will ensure that you’re flying within the limits as much as possible.