Drone Laws in California

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If you are a drone owner and living in California, it’s important to stay up to date with any regulations set in place by the state and government. Drone laws in California can be similar to many states; however, much like driving a car, there can be some differences.

Mentioning cars, speed limits convert to how far and how high you should fly your drone; The higher you fly your drone, the closer you are to break the laws. The case is the same for flight range. For example, drones such as Autel EVO can easily get to ranges (up to 7 kilometers) the Holy Stone HS100 (500 meters flight range) will struggle with.

Generally, professionals (and geeks) will/will need to push drones to their range limits. For a regular use, a hobbyist drone will do.

So, with laws by state varying, it’s essential to do your research to avoid any unwanted surprises.

FAA Regulations in California

To start with California drone laws, let’s talk about registration. You should register your aircraft here: https://faadronezone.faa.gov. The Federal Aviation Administration (also known as the FAA) requires that all owners follow strict regulations. You must begin by filing your name, address, and even email address with the FAA.

After that is submitted, you will receive proof of ownership for your drone. This is an actual certificate for your aircraft registration. It includes an identification number for your drone and you must display this number on it at all times. This number is valid for 3 years. To register, you must be at least 13 years old and you must file before your drones’ first flight. In fact, if you fail to register, penalties can result in a fine of up to $250,000.

Civilian drone laws are a must to know. It’s easy to fly and not pay attention to exactly where you are. If you fly over private property, this is trespassing, and you can receive a punishment of up to $2,500 in fines. If it’s a second-time offense or more, you can actually face jail time in addition to large fines. If you use your drone to harass someone, the victim can file a restraining order against you. Again, drone laws by state can be quite different, this is strictly California’s regulations.

Check other state laws.

Where Can You Fly Your Drone in Los Angeles?

You want to get informed about the Los Angeles drone laws to be able to make videos like this one:

Let’s get back to the topic, shall we? ==> Los Angeles drone regulations include more than just trespassing and harassment. A large part of drones laws are no fly zones. In Los Angeles, drones are not allowed to fly within a 5 mile radius of any airport. They also must not interfere with any manned aircrafts; this means that someone is physically piloting them. Your drone is also not permitted to fly at night. Flying over 400 feet high is prohibited and you must always have sight of your drone.

Venice Beach and Torrance Beach are popular areas that you are able to fly at. Avoiding people is the main concern at public places, so try to get there early to avoid any crowds. If you really want isolation, then desert areas in and around Los Angeles may be more suitable.

Where Can You Fly Your Drone in San Francisco?

Must like Los Angeles, San Francisco can be full of areas that do not permit drone flying. To make matters even more difficult, San Francisco is a city filled with varying heights. This means your 400 feet from the ground can actually be much less if you decide to stand on a tall hill. However, don’t let this stop you from flying! There are some great areas that you can still uncover. The Indian Basin is a favorite. In fact, people claim that area has one of the best views a drone can capture. Treasure Island is also a safe place to fly to catch of view of the city’s downtown area. Again, try to arrive early in the day because the high traffic of people can make launching almost impossible.

If you’re having difficultly determining whether or not you can fly in a certain area, there are websites to help make this decision much simpler. Know Before You Fly has an airspace map that can actually see if where you are is a safe fly zone. All you have to do is enter in the coordinates of where you are.

It may seem like finding a spot to fly your drone in Los Angeles or San Francisco can be troublesome. However, understanding the FAA regulations when it comes to drone laws and checking out the hotspots we recommended will help filter out areas and allow you to catch some great views.

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13 Responses

    1. Hey Jose!

      I guess you better ask who’s in charge there, the ref and the coaches for permission! You have to be a very experienced pilot for you to get a good footage, and to not distract anyone. I guess you’ll end up filming from 180 to 200 if they agree!

      Let us know how that goes.

  1. I’m a film student. And some times I need to take shooting around my apartment. If I have the registration. What should I do else?

  2. Hello ,My name is Larry Smith and I would please I want to make an order of (Mavic 2 Pro or Zoom) . If yes can you please tell me what the price on each.Hope to hear back from you again .
    Best Regards,
    Larry Smith.

    1. It depends on your budget and needs! If you’re a hobbyist just starting out, Contixo F18 is a good affordable drone.

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