One of the great reasons why you may enjoy flying a drone is so that you can get some beautiful pictures of the world we live in. One of the many places that people enjoy visiting because of this beauty is Niagra Falls. However, you may wonder if it’s actually legal for you to fly a drone over Niagra Falls.
Unfortunately, it is illegal for anyone to fly a drone over Niagra Falls. This is actually true for the entire park. The only way you can legally fly your drone here is if you’re able to get them to give you a permit to do so. This is true for both the U.S. and Canada sides of this park today.
Drone Use in Niagara Parks
Drones are growing in popularity today. Not only are there more hobbyists who are enjoying flying them but now they’re also being used for a lot of different types of jobs as well. As their popularity grows so does the desire to fly them in various places such as Niagara Falls.
Unfortunately, if you plan on visiting Niagara Falls you should know that you won’t be allowed to do so unless you first apply for and receive a permit. Additionally, if you’re unfamiliar with Canada’s regulations regarding flying drones you should know that their Transport Canada Federal Regulations deems the airspace that’s located above Niagara Falls a restricted air space.
In order to apply to fly a drone on the Canadian side of the Falls, you will need to follow special provisions. According to their restrictions, you must first receive permission from Transport Canada. This is because they’ve placed restrictions within this zone that reach from the ground up to 3,500 feet (1,066 meters) above sea level (ASL) and 3,000 feet (914 meters) above ground level. The restricted area extends along the Niagara River north from Niagara Falls to around where Whirlpool Road is located. The area also extends along the Niagara River south to around where Welland River is located. Anyone who wants to fly a drone in this area for either work or recreational purposes you must make sure that you can do so both safely and legally.
Niagara Falls Canada Drone Regulations
Niagara Falls takes careful care to regulate the aerial traffic in this area. Anyone who wants to fly their drone on the Canadian side should know that this includes airspace up to 3,500 feet above sea level and 3,000 feet above ground level. This restriction runs from the Welland River which is located south of the falls to the Niagara Whirlpool.
There are two reasons why Canada has chosen to regulate this airspace. The first reason is the fact that in Canada drones that are flown within any of their townships have certain restrictions that they must abide by. The aforementioned restrictions are for drones that are flown on their side of Niagara Falls. The second reason why Canada has chosen to regulate this airspace is that helicopters and private flights fly through this area to give people private tours of the Falls. Any unanticipated aircraft in this area poses a major hazard for them.
Niagara Falls U.S. Drone Regulations
On the United States side of Niagara Falls, you’ll find that the rules pertaining to flying drones are a bit more relaxed. Generally, you’ll be allowed to fly your drone here as long as you keep your drone within eyesight, don’t fly your drone above 400 feet, and you remain at least 5 miles away from any airstrip. Unfortunately, this can be difficult to do since the Falls are located relatively nearby Niagara Falls International Airport. However, if you stay closer to the river you may be able to fly your drone there. You will still need to check your distance first. If you’re uncertain if you can fly there, make sure you talk to the local authorities before doing so.
If you’re flying your drone for non-recreational purposes (e.g. taking photographs for professional media or to sell in some way) requires that you receive authorization beforehand. In the United States, you’ll need to seek permission from the FFA but if you’re on the Canadian side of the Falls you’ll need to seek permission from Transport Canada. In either case, it’s important for you to take the time to know the regulations before you launch your drone.
How To Photograph Niagara Falls Using a Drone
With the beauty of Niagara Falls and the majesty of the falls themselves, it’s no wonder that people want to fly their drones there. Doing so would be a great way to capture some amazing footage. However, since Niagara Falls is located on the border between the United States and Canada it’s important to understand that there are different rules on each side of the Falls depending upon which country you’re trying to fly your drone in. This is why the Niagara Parks Commission is the governing body that’s in charge of the rules and regulations here. They exist to make sure that commercial photography and filming of the Falls is being fairly managed. It’s also up to them to ensure that drones don’t interfere with people being able to enjoy their visit to Niagara Falls.
How to Fly in Niagara Parks
When you want to fly your drone anywhere in the Niagara Parks area you must first request a permit before doing so. In your request, you must also ask for permission to take photographs or capture video especially if you plan to do so for commercial purposes. Some of the other times when you need to make a request include when you’re:
- Using models, actors, professional crews, or props
- Advertising products or services
- Potentially damaging any of the park’s resources or disrupting visitors’ enjoyment of the park
- Flying in an area where the public isn’t usually allowed to visit
- Flying before the park opens for the day or closes for the night
Regardless of whether you’re flying your drone in Niagara Falls for commercial or recreational purposes, you’re responsible for making sure that you don’t only do so legally but that you also do so safely. Once you have all the permits you need to fly here you’ll be ready to capture some great footage there.
Drone flying over Niagara Falls
It’s important for you to understand that you’ll need a permit if you want to fly in or around the Niagara Parks area. This is because the park wants to make sure that visitors are able to enjoy their time there. There’s also another reason that oftentimes gets overlooked here. The Falls create a serious updraft. Unfortunately, this means that the area is going to be very windy. Therefore you won’t be able to fly your drone as easily as you would somewhere else. In fact, flying your drone here can be quite dangerous due to the area’s harsh weather conditions. For this reason, the park wants to make sure that anyone who flies here is equipped to do so safely.
The Consequences of Flying in Niagara Falls Without a Permit
Choosing to ignore regulations that require you to get a permit to fly your drone in certain areas is illegal. When you’re caught flying your drone in a restricted area without permission you can get into a lot of trouble.
Anyone who doesn’t don’t get permission to fly in Niagara Falls may have their drone and any other equipment they may be using confiscated by the park’s rangers. If you’re prosecuted, your drone and any equipment you may be using could be held as evidence for your trial. If you’re found in violation of this regulation you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor and may have to spend up to 6 months in jail. You may also be issued a citation and a fine of up to $5,000. Depending on how lenient the Rangers are feeling they may simply tell you that you’re not allowed to fly your drone there and that you have to leave.
It really isn’t worth taking the chance by flying your drone illegally here. If you take a moment to get a permit you’ll be able to capture some amazing footage. Of course, you may even capture some amazing footage if you don’t get caught flying your drone illegally here. Unfortunately though, if you get caught you may never get to see this footage. This is why you really should take a few minutes to get permission before flying your drone.
Unfortunately, if you’ve wanted to fly your drone over Niagra Falls or in Niagra Falls Park you won’t be able to do so. This is illegal on both the United States and the Canadian sides of the park today. The only way you’ll be able to fly your drone in any of these locations is if you’re able to get the park to give you a permit. This is something that’s very difficult to do so most people never get to realize their dream of flying their drone there.