Arkansas is a state that inspires wanderlust and adventure. If you live in a busy state like California or New York and want an escape from all the humdrum and commotion of city life, the state of Arkansas can be your perfect getaway. And if you have a drone, carry it along to capture the region’s landscapes and scenery from a higher perspective (quite literally).
Arkansas has no shortage of scenic, drone-friendly places. Boyle Park, Two Rivers Park, Pierce Creek, North Shore Riverwalk Park, etc., are spots popular among drone users. However, not all of those airspaces are open to drones. Some of them are restricted or fall in certain regulation classes.
The drone laws in Arkansas dictate who gets to fly drones in the state, when, where, and how. To learn about them all, along with the best spots for flying drones in the region, and more, read on.
Flying a Drone in Arkansas – The Rules and Guidelines
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has total control over the airspace in the United States, and Arkansas is no different. Therefore, get familiar with FAA regulations before taking your drone out or even buying one.
It’s imperative to stay up to date with recent Arkansas airspace data and temporary flight restrictions (if any) in the region. FAA’s B4UFLY mobile app can help you stay on top of that information. There are also private pre-flight planning apps such as Kittyhawk for assistance.
Put into effect by the FAA, the following are some of the guidelines drone users in Arkansas should conform to:
- You must duly register your drone.
- The uncrewed flight must always be within 400 feet from the ground.
- The drone should never go out of sight.
- The drone must weigh less than 55 pounds (approximately 25kg)
- If there are crewed aircraft in the vicinity, do not use your drone.
- You shouldn’t be taking your drone anywhere close to airports in the state – at least not within a five-mile radius of the site.
- Always steer clear of locations where emergency response efforts are taking place.
The above drone usage rules are applicable in all states, and not just Arkansas.
And if you’re considering flying your drone close to an airport, seek necessary permission from the airport authorities and also the FAA.
Besides getting proper permission and abiding by the laws, be wary of a couple of other things when flying your drone:
- Photography and collecting data of any critical or security-sensitive infrastructure are strictly prohibited in the state. You’ll need official consent in case you are keen on documenting them.
- Do not fly your drone over people who have no idea what soared past them. Taking drone pictures or videos of a person without their consent is illegal. Though drone cameras are not the best for capturing people’s visuals, with the images that usually come out are not identifiable, it’s still not acceptable as per the laws.
The above are stipulations mandated as per the state’s drone laws. The Arkansas General Assembly devised them, to be specific. Some or all of the above laws could apply to other states or regions in the country.
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To learn more about the various laws concerning drone registration and usage in the state, click on this official link.
Also, not all of the laws mentioned on the page in the given link uniformly apply to the state. Certain cities, regions, or counties in Arkansas may not implement these laws, or their authorities may have their local laws.
And since the discussion is on flying drones in Arkansas, you should know that there are multiple drone training centers or classes in the state. If you are new to drones and would like to learn to fly the UAV (uncrewed aerial vehicle) properly before taking the skies, formal training is recommended.
Even if you are a “skilled” drone pilot, there may be certain aspects you may not be entirely on top of or would like to hone. In other words, the formal teaching will help the skilled drone pilot in you as well.
Not to mention, taking this route will significantly help with the processes of registering your drone, getting drone pilot licenses, seeking official permission to fly, and other red tapes.
The Best Drone Spots in Arkansas
Arkansas has some beautiful locations to pilot your drones over, whether you are a seasoned pilot flying the drone for commercial reasons or if the objective is purely recreational. The state is known for its southeastern lowlands and northwest highlands. Also, it boasts several rivers, reservoirs, deciduous forests, and glassy lakes.
Of all of them, the following are our top picks for some drone action. It is not an exhaustive list by any means.
North Shore Riverwalk Park
Located north of the Arkansas River, the North Shore Riverwalk Park is a stretch of green space meeting the glorious city skyline of Little Rock during twilight. The USS Razorback submarine and multiple bridges are other local attractions to capture with your drone.
The bridges are busy routing automobiles or trains throughout the day, which would make for some excellent aerial footage. Most importantly, the place has abundant free-flying space. Therefore, crashing into structures or landmarks should not be a concern, even if you are just learning to fly a drone.
Kindly note, the park is Class C or controlled airspace, which means you’ll need permission from the FAA and the local authorities to fly your drone anywhere close to the place.
Located within wooded hills that span 243 acres of area, Boyle Park is another fantastic spot in Arkansas for drone pilots – particularly the recreational types. If you easily get fascinated by nature and greenery, this is the place to visit.
The forested spots and the trees make the park a great place to shoot videos. And since the park is amidst plenty of foliage and trees, the area changes in appearance with the changing seasons.
During the fall, the place truly comes into its own with the leaves on trees starting to change hues. If you live close to the region, visit the place during different times of the year, and the place would look different from what it looked like during your last trip.
Moreover, several human-made attractions, including historic buildings, a fishing pond, open green fields, and earthen trails, add to the region’s splendor. Mountain bike trails are also ideal if you like the drone to follow you while you are on your bike.
The region’s airspace falls under the Class G category – which means it is not controlled, and you can freely fly your drone with no prior permission.
Two Rivers Park
The Two Rivers Park Bridge is another physical structure that looks more beautiful than it already is when viewed from the top.
If you like the outdoors or are of the adventurous kind, you’ll fancy Two Rivers Park. Highlight features of the park include bike and hike trails, local wildlife, and some splendid gardens. The site is ideal for capturing drone shots of woodlands, wide-open fields, and the gleaming marshes.
How restricted the airspace in the region is not very clear. Get in touch with local authorities to learn more.
Lake Maumelle is an 8,900-acre artificial water body. It’s only 10 miles away from Little Rock, the capital city of Arkansas. Though quite popular among locals and tourists alike, it’s never too crowded for some drone action – not even close.
The 70-mile shoreline and the Pinnacle Mountain in the distance, along with the wooded hills, are scenes begging to be captured. The airspace above the lake is also Class G. So, go ahead and explore the place freely.
Pierce Creek is a stream situated in Mayflower, Arkansas. It’s a Class G airspace zone, making it a key location for several drone users for flying their quadcopters and capturing scenic shots. The human-made reservoir is among the largest in the country.
Perhaps, the biggest attraction of the area is Pierce Creek Public Boat Landing. Situated in Faulkner County, the spot is a 6,700-acre site with a 52-mile shoreline offering breath-taking visuals of the lake. It serves as the ideal launch spot for drones and offers the best view of the creek.
The sprawling location is idyllic for recreational and serious drone pilots alike. The trees with their roots in the lake water make for great drone pictures and footage. And during sunset, when the sun’s rays hit the water and the trees, the sight is truly to behold.
Arkansas has more than its fair share of drone-friendly spots. There are natural parks and lakes galore. But just because the state provides you the avenues, it doesn’t imply you may go around capturing drone footage at will or without prior notice or seeking permission.
Always keep the FAA in the know about what you are up to with your drone. Then there are local authorities to coordinate with as well. Fortunately, you may seek drone flying permission online or before you arrive at a particular location. Also, the online approval-seeking process is relatively straightforward and not at all time-consuming.
Just try not to obtain permission months or weeks in advance. Try to keep that window as small as possible. Drone-flying laws in the country, including Arkansas, are updated pretty much on the regular. Therefore, it’s entirely possible that the permission obtained a month ago may not be valid today due to some changes in rules.