Can I Fly a Drone in My Backyard? (Read This First)


Drone flying has become quite a big hobby for all sorts of people. It isn’t even just for those who love remote-controlled flying objects. With camera drones being so affordable these days, it has also become a great hobby for those who love to take photos and videos. That said, as neat as drone flying may be, there are some considerations and restrictions that you need to know regarding where you can fly your drone, and you may be wondering if it’s legal to fly a drone in your own backyard.

You can fly a drone in your backyard or on any private property. However, you can do so if and only if you live in a place that is not a no-fly zone or otherwise regulated by local ordinances. You must also make sure that you are complying with all of the other regulations regarding drone flying.

Even though drone flying might seem like a harmless hobby, what you need to know is that there are a number of different ramifications and possible risks involved with it. That’s why there are legal restrictions involved with drones as the security and safety of other people can be at risk when it comes to flying a drone.

Can I fly a drone in my backyard?

The thing you need to understand about drone flying is that it might take a bit of practice for you to get to know how to properly fly this device. This means that the learning curve requires you to practice flying the drone on your own, especially when you are at home. Most drones are not safe to fly indoors, so the most logical choice is to practice flying the drone in your own backyard.

But another aspect of drone flying that needs to be understood is that there are limitations to what you can do regarding drone flying. There are actually some places where you are not allowed to fly your drone for security and safety reasons. What you may not know is where those off-limits places are, and if they include your own backyard. 

In answering that question, there are many qualifications that you need to keep in mind because the answer really depends on certain factors. But the general answer that we would like to give is that, yes, you can fly a drone in your own backyard. Under normal circumstances, you should be able to fly a drone in your backyard without worrying about whether or not you are violating any law or restrictions.

The biggest qualification with that answer is that you can only fly your drone in your own backyard if and only if no other zoning restrictions apply to you. If there are restrictions that apply within the area where your property is situated, even if we are talking about your own backyard, then unfortunately you won’t be able to fly your drone in your own backyard.

The exception – no-fly zones

One of the most common restrictions that are applicable to this situation is if you live in an area that is classified as a no-fly zone for one reason or another. A good example of a no-fly zone is if you live near a military base, a power plant, or an airport. The reasons why you can’t fly your drone in such areas are pretty obvious – flying a drone near these types of locations presents some security and safety risks.

So, if you do live in an area that is within a no-fly zone, then there is no way for you to fly your own drone in your backyard even if your backyard is your own private property. The security and safety risks involved far outweigh your right to fly your drone on your own property, and that is why you won’t be able to have complete freedom in regards to drone flying if there are certain restrictions that apply to you and your area.

When can I not fly a drone in my backyard?

Now that you know that you are allowed to fly a drone in your own backyard as long as there are no local regulations or nearby facilities that would restrict you from doing so, let’s look at things from a different perspective in the sense that it would be helpful to know all the reasons you may not be allowed to fly your drone in your own backyard. So, in what instances are you not allowed to fly a drone in your backyard?

If you live in a no-fly zone

The most common reason why you can’t fly a drone in your own backyard is if you live too close to an area where you shouldn’t be flying any unmanned aerial vehicle. The most common instance would be if your home is within 5 miles of an airport. The reason why people are not allowed to fly a drone near an airport is that there are tons of safety risks involved in doing so.

In case you don’t know, airplanes require a good distance to be able to reach a steady altitude upon takeoff. The same goes for airplanes landing as they need the area around them to be clear of any obstacles. That’s why tall buildings are not allowed to be close to airports as they would end up disrupting the takeoff and landing path of airplanes.

If it needs more spelling out, the reason why you are restricted in terms of flying a drone in your own backyard if you live close to an airport is due to the fact that a drone could get into the rotors or engines of an airplane. And it is obvious that, when such an incident happens, the results can be more than catastrophic. In that regard, the safety of people’s lives is at play here.

This restriction applies if you live within 5 miles of an airport. If you want to fly your drone within a 5-mile radius of an airport, you need to make sure that you acquire a waiver from the FAA. Otherwise, you won’t be able to fly your drone here, even if it’s where you happen to live.

If you’re not following drone flight regulations

Everyone flying a drone must follow all the safety rules established by the FAA. This applies wherever you happen to be flying, even if it’s on your own property. Let’s take a specific example here of the regulation that you must keep your drone under 400 feet above ground level.

If you happen to live nowhere near an airport or other no-fly zone areas, you still need to keep your drone under 400 feet if you are flying in your own backyard. Otherwise, you might end up interfering with the flight of other manned aircraft that operate above that limit.

Other regulations about drone safety including keeping your drone within line of sight, and not operating a drone while under the influence of drugs or alcohol also still apply when you are flying on your own private property. 

There is also another important restriction when you are flying your drone in your own backyard. You have to make sure that you are flying your drone 25 feet away from any individual or important property because of the security risks involved. As such, even if you are flying in your own backyard, you still aren’t allowed to fly your drone if there are people who are concerned about your drone and what it can do to their individual safety and to the security of their private property.

If an emergency situation is happening near your house

Another restriction that would limit your right to fly a drone in your backyard is when there is a house that is burning nearby or if there is a need for emergency efforts in your area. When such an emergency is afoot, you are not allowed to fly your drone in your own backyard if you live close to that burning home or building. That’s because flying under such circumstances will be dangerous for those who are involved, as your drone might end up disrupting emergency efforts.

If you live in other regulated areas

Some local cities and towns have ordinances that would prohibit you from flying a drone in your own neighborhood or backyard. If you’re not sure about your city or town, you can check with the town or city hall to find out what the rules are about flying a drone in your town. In most cases, however, you’re free to fly in your own backyard. 

Finally, if you are only a recreational flyer, you are only allowed to fly your drone in an airspace that is classified as Class G. When we say Class G airspace, we are talking about the airspace that is below 14,500 feet, and is open to aircraft of any type with no other restrictions. Of course, the restriction regarding the 400-feet limit above ground still applies to this case.

The best way to check whether your home or property is within restricted airspace or a no-fly zone is to look it up on the FAA’s B4UFLY app. If your home is not in a restricted area, and there’s no emergency situation afoot, you’re probably good to go.

Elizabeth Ciobanu

Editor-in-Chief. Elizabeth is a full-time (homeschooling!) mom of four, and serial entrepreneur in a variety of enterprises, one of which is producing content for Droneblog. If free time existed, she would love to spend more time on hobbies such as flying a drone.

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