Drones are fun and exciting. They're something that almost everyone wants to try flying regardless of where they may be living today.
Brooklyn is part of New York City. Unfortunately, in NYC there's an old drone law (Administrative Code § 10-126). This law says you can't launch or land a drone anywhere in NYC. This means that it's illegal to fly drones in NYC, there are many locations nearby where it's legal to fly your drone.
Drone Laws in Brooklyn
Unfortunately, Brooklyn is quite antiquated when it comes to its drone laws. While the law itself only dates back to 2017, according to Administrative Code § 10-126 you can't launch or land a drone within the city of New York. What this means is that it's illegal to fly a drone in New York City unless the drone is being used in the event of an emergency. Fortunately, there are a few places that have been by the department of transportation and the port of New York authority where drones can fly.
The 2018 Amendment to Administrative Code § 10-126
Known as the NYC "Avigation" law there have since been some amendments proposed for this law by New York City Council members. One such amendment was proposed in January 2018. It was drafted to allow drones to legally fly in New York City but it still placed a lot of restrictions on those participating in this activity.
According to this proposed bill, there'd be restrictions placed on the times, locations, and altitudes at which drones could fly. Additionally, drones wouldn't be allowed to conduct surveillance or be equipped with dangerous instruments (e.g. weapons). While this bill would make technical and conforming changes to Administrative Code § 10-126 it wouldn't affect how New York City's agencies operated their drones. Unfortunately, this bill has been stuck in the committee since it was first proposed so many people believe that it's dead in the water.
The 2019 Amendment to Administrative Code § 10-126
In July of 2019, construction industry workers and developers started lobbying NYC to let them use drones in their marketing as well as for inspecting construction sites. They felt the need to do so because building owners are required to inspect their building's facade every 5 years. To do this they need to spend months erecting scaffolding which often costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is something that a drone can do in days and for only a fraction of the cost.
On October 21, 2019, it was proposed that a NY-city-specific drone registration and remote ID system be created. According to this legislation, any drone that would be flown in NYC would need to be registered with the Department of Transportation (DOT), covered by a liability insurance policy, and have an identification tag and number linking it to its owner in the same way that a car's VIN number works. DOT and the NYC police department would be responsible for ensuring that these rules weren't being violated.
Although it's great to see that people are starting to acknowledge the benefits of using drones, these types of red-tape measures would still make it extremely difficult to fly them.
LAANC Rules in Brooklyn
Although LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability: a collaboration with the FAA that directly supports integrating drones into the airspace) allows hobbyists to fly their drones in controlled airspace most of Manhattan and the Bronx are still closed to these flights. This is because LAANC isn't active at the LaGuardia Airport (LGA). Additionally, while the LAANC allows you to fly at Recreational Fixed Sites in controlled airspace there aren't any currently listed here. However, while most of Lower Manhattan is outside of LGA's airspace it does still fall under the "navigation" law.
Other Reasons it’s Challenging to Fly in NYC
Besides all the bureaucratic red-tape that makes it illegal to fly drones in NYC, there are a few other reasons why it's so challenging to fly your drone here. These include:
- This is a densely populated city. In fact, it may be one of the world's most populous city with 8.6 million people (25,000 people/sq. mi) living in it. This makes it difficult for drone pilots to comply with the FAA's rules about not flying over anyone who isn't a member of your drone operations.
- The majority of the city falls under Class B Airspace because there are so many busy airports located here (e.g. JFK, LaGuardia). You can't fly your drone in this airspace without first obtaining written authorization from Air Traffic Control (ATC). This is something that even commercial drone pilots must comply with. While you can use the LAANC to get permission to fly near the JFK airport, LGA isn't active with the LAANC yet. Therefore if you want to fly there you'll need to get a 107.41 Airspace Authorization via the FAA Drone Zone. Currently, this is something that commercial drone pilots can do which means that hobbyists can't fly anywhere near LGA unless they're flying at a Recreational Flyer Fixed Site. Unfortunately, there is only one of these sites located within the LGA airspace.
Drone Laws in New York State
There's only one state-wide law that's currently applicable in New York state: OPR-PCD-018. This law was enacted by the DOT and the New York State Assembly. It has to do with preserving recreation and the history of the state's parks.
According to OPR-PCD-018, you cannot legally operate your drone in any state park or at any historical site unless you get written permission first. To apply for one of these permits you'll need to specify when, where, and why you'll be flying your drone. Even if you've sent in your application you can't fly your drone in these areas until you receive written permission allowing you to do so.
Where You Can Fly Your Drone Near Brooklyn
Now that you know that according to the NYC Administrative Code it's illegal for you to launch or land a drone anywhere within the city (except for in the event of an emergency), you may find yourself wondering where you can actually fly your drone – hopefully someplace nearby. Fortunately, there are some places within the city's limits that the DOT or the port of New York authority have said that people can fly their drones.
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
The largest park in Queens, New York is known as Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Located adjacent to Meadow Lake and Van Wyck Expressway many people enjoy this park because it has a lot of great amenities – one of which is a model aircraft field. This is a beautiful area from which to capture aerial photos and videos of the nearby lake and surrounding area.
Calvert Vaux Park
The Academy of Model Aeronautics has a members-only park that's operated by the Seaview Rotary Wings RC flying club. This is located at Calvert Vaux Park. To fly your drone here you must be a paid member of both the local club and the national club. There are a lot of people who find it worthwhile to pay the fee so that they can enjoy flying their drone with people who are also focused on safety. This area is also wide-open so it's a great place to fly.
Senator Speno Memorial Park
Another ideal place to fly your drone is at the Senator Speno Memorial Park. Not only will you enjoy free parking here but there are also lots of open, grassy areas (e.g. a baseball field, a soccer field, handball courts, basketball courts).
LaTourette Park Model Airfield
Located just outside of NYC in Staten Island there's LaTourette Park Model Airfield. There's a nice open field here that's surrounded by a beautiful marsh landscape. This looks great when captured by drone photographs and videos. You'll also enjoy the expansive area where you're likely to meet other drone enthusiasts.
Located on Long Island's Great South Bay, Tanner Park is mostly beachfront but there's also room for people to enjoy sports, marine activities, and dining. While there are some areas of the beach that are restricted to use by Town of Babylon residents, Bay Beach is open to everyone.
When you find yourself in Brooklyn or some parts of Queens (from around Atlantic Ave. southwards) you can apply for permission from the LAANC to fly your drone. This is because the area is located within airspace that's controlled by JFK. However, you still need to abide by the restrictions of the "navigation" law. While some people have managed to fly their drones in this area it's possible that you're asked to land or may even get into trouble for flying there.
There's also a 3 AMA site where you can fly your drone. It's located between Brooklyn and Queens. To find it you can use the FAA ArcGIS Map under the "Recreational Flying Fixed Sites" section.
Flying your drone in NYC isn't something that's legal to do. Fortunately, there are a lot of other great places nearby that will allow you to fly your drone.
Shawn Manaher loves to play with new toys and dive into new hobbies. As a serial entrepreneur, work definitely comes first but there is always room for hobbies.