Myrtle Beach is by far one of South Carolina’s biggest attractions. Situated on the Atlantic coast, the area features 60 miles of beaches known as the Grand Stand and golf courses designed by celebrities.
Can you fly a drone in Myrtle Beach?
South Carolina has no rules prohibiting drone pilots from using a UAV in Myrtle Beach. However, you’ll have to follow FAA guidelines, limiting your access to more crowded areas of the vacation resort.
This guide will further explore what’s allowed when using a drone in Myrtle Beach. If you’re ready to pack your bags and head out, make sure you keep reading!
The information ahead will be indispensable to your trip.
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Can you fly a drone in Myrtle Beach?
When you look at a resort like Myrtle Beach and its wide range of amenities such as shopping, golf courses, entertainment, and resplendent beaches, you’d assume you wouldn’t be able to use your drone.
As we mentioned in the intro, that simply isn’t true! South Carolina has rather relaxed drone laws.
That doesn’t mean the state is completely devoid of laws, as we’ll discuss a little later, but you won’t see strict crackdowns on drone use here.
» MORE: Drone Laws in South Carolina
Part of that has to do with the fact that South Carolina doesn’t have any local drone laws. If Myrtle Beach were to in any way restrict drone pilots, they’d do so through local laws, but those don’t exist.
We do have to throw some wrenches in your plans, especially if you anticipated flying freely across the beach.
First, as a drone pilot, you must respect all federal laws, especially those established by the FAA. Federal laws apply no matter where your drone travels take you in the United States.
You also have to follow state guidelines, which we’ll cover ahead.
Then there’s the matter of the nearby airport, Myrtle Beach International Airport.
According to the FAA, you’re not supposed to fly within five miles of an airport. While technically, Myrtle Beach isn’t located within five miles of Myrtle Beach International Airport, we have heard stories of police requesting that drones not fly around the beach.
These pilots weren’t detained, fined, or anything like that, but they did choose to respectfully decline further drone flights in the area.
To stay on the safe side, we recommend using your favorite drone mapping app to confirm that the part of Myrtle Beach you’re interested in flying in has no such active restrictions.
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Can you fly a drone in Myrtle Beach State Park?
As you plan your itinerary in Myrtle Beach for business or pleasure, you may wonder about the Horry County Myrtle Beach State Park. The 312-acre state park features equestrian trails, a beach, pier fishing, and 140 sites for camping.
Where does your drone fit into the equation, or does it not?
Although most states have stringent regulations about allowing drones into state parks, that’s not the case in South Carolina. If you want to fly your drone in Myrtle Beach State Park, you can.
The state park has rules, so it’s not a free-for-all. You can’t trample on beach grasses or sand dunes and must use the boardwalk when accessing the beach.
If you feel like expanding your trip plans, the entirety of South Carolina allows state park visitors with drones.
You could visit Sunset’s Keowee-Toxaway State Park, Pickens’ Table Rock State Park, Marietta’s Jones Gap State Park, Spartanburg’s Croft State Park, or Greenville’s Paris Mountain State Park, among many others.
South Carolina’s state drone laws
As mentioned, drone pilots must follow federal and state drone laws when flying in Myrtle Beach and other parts of South Carolina.
South Carolina only has one state drone law, Bill 176. The 2017 law limits your drone flight radius.
You’re prohibited from flying 25 vertical feet and 500 horizontal feet from a Department of Corrections facility unless the Director of the Department of Corrections gives you written permission.
The only exceptions are anyone “who registers with the Federal Aviation Administration as an operator of a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle; operates the vehicle or the purpose of monitoring, operating, maintaining, or enhancing electric, communications, water conveyance, or transport infrastructure or determining if repairs to such infrastructure are necessary; and separately notifies the jail administrator or his designee no more than five days and no less than two hours prior to each operation of the vehicle, provided that the notification must include the registration number the Federal Aviation Administration has issued for the vehicle.”
This isn’t merely a request, but a demand. You’ll receive a misdemeanor charge for violating the rules, possibly incurring $500 in fines, 30 days in jail, or both.
The Department of Corrections also has the right to confiscate your drone, requiring you to go through a lengthy and time-consuming appeals process to get it back.
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FAA guidelines to remember when flying in Myrtle Beach
To stress it one more time, no matter where you use your drone in the United States, you must follow FAA rules.
In an area like Myrtle Beach, where few rules apply, we especially recommend being a model drone pilot and obeying these guidelines.
You must have a license to fly a drone
The FAA issues licenses to drone pilots by class, so recreational and commercial pilots must have a certificate.
Commercial pilots need the FAA Remote Pilot Certificate, a two-year license you receive after successfully scoring 70 percent or higher on the Part 107 exam.
That’s not as easy as it sounds, considering the Part 107 exam includes more than 50 multiple-choice questions and no online components.
Recreational pilots can obtain their license by taking The Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST test.
This short-form online test doesn’t have nearly the same degree of difficulty as the Part 107 exam. Case in point, you can change your answers as you go!
Register your drone
Before you use your drone in Myrtle Beach or anywhere, register it with the FAA if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds. The registration lasts for three years.
Give manned aircraft the right of way
You shouldn’t encounter manned aircraft if you stay five miles from airports (which applies throughout the US, not only in Myrtle Beach). That said, if you ever do, you must give them the right of way.
Try to safely land your drone where you can, as you’re likely flying too close to restricted airspace if you’re sharing the skies with manned aircraft!
No drones over 55 pounds
How much does your drone weigh? If it’s more than 55 pounds, then you can’t legally fly it in the US. Reduce the drone payload and see if that lightens the load.
Don’t fly over 400 feet
The blanket altitude for drone flight in the US is 400 feet.
You cannot ascend higher than that without breaking federal law, so watch your drone altitude as you get caught up in the beauty and shining lights of Myrtle Beach’s boardwalk.
Never interrupt emergency responders or law enforcement
Emergency responders such as firefighters, EMS, and law enforcement have a job to do.
When your drone gets too close to critical operations, you’re interrupting them and possibly preventing them from saving lives.
Keep a good distance from the action.
Keep your drone within your line of sight
As the drone pilot, you’re expected to remain in control of your UAV. If you can’t, you should have an observer who can ensure the drone remains within their line of sight.
Stay in uncontrolled airspace
On a drone map, you’ll usually find plenty of Class G uncontrolled airspace. You’re supposed to stay only in this airspace. For Class B, C, D, and E airspace–all controlled airspace–you must have prior authorization to fly.
Don’t fly faster than 100 MPH
More so than just your height, manage your speed when using a drone in South Carolina. You’re capped at a max speed of 100 miles per hour.
If you’ve always wanted to fly a drone in Myrtle Beach, here’s some good news: you can! South Carolina has rather relaxed drone restrictions, but that doesn’t mean local police always want you around.
When you get a chance to hit Myrtle Beach with your drone, use a mapping app to avoid restricted airspace, have your drone license and registration on you, be respectful and courteous of others, and follow FAA rules. Have fun!
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