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Can You Fly a Drone in Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a storied part of the state. It has several Gilded Age spots, among them the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and the Carnegie Museum of Art.

The city is also known for the three rivers that surround it, its sports stadiums, and its beautiful scenery.

Can you fly a drone in Pittsburgh?

You can fly a drone in Pittsburgh, as the city has no local drone ordinances blocking the activity. Some of Pittsburgh’s best spots to use a drone include Boyce Mayview Park, Allegheny RiverTrail Park, and Millvale Riverfront Park.

This article will be your guide to flying a drone in Pittsburgh. We’ll tell you where you can legally fly and where you can’t so you can make the most of your time here!

Let’s get started.

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Can you fly a drone in Pittsburgh?

The FAA establishes drone laws for the United States, and there’s no law forbidding pilots from drone use in Pennsylvania.

» MORE: Drone Laws in Pennsylvania

The only thing that would stop you from flying in Pittsburgh is if the city had any local ordinances or laws forbidding it, but it doesn’t.

That’s great news if you plan to venture to Pittsburgh for fun or a drone filming project.

While we’ll talk in the next section about all the magnificent places in this city where you can fly a drone, just know there are some where you can’t.

For one, you can’t use a drone in a state park according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources and the Bureau of State Parks.

Only a few state parks permit drones throughout Pennsylvania, and they are:

  • Benjamin Rush State Park
  • Prompton State Park
  • Beltzville State Park
  • Lackawanna State Park
  • Tuscarora State Park
  • Hillman State Park

Pittsburgh has several nearby state parks, and none are on the approved list above. Keep your distance from:

  • Cherry Springs State Park
  • Moraine State Park
  • McConnells Mill State Park
  • Point State Park
  • Ohiopyle State Park

You also cannot fly close to any airports in Pittsburgh. The main one is Pittsburgh International Airport, but others in the vicinity include the:

  • Allegheny County Airport in nearby West Mifflin
  • Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in nearby Latrobe
  • Pittsburgh NorthEast Airport in nearby Tarentum

Avoid the Pittsburgh MEPS military base, as it’s illegal for drones to fly closer than five nautical miles of a military base.

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The 6 top places in Pittsburgh to fly a drone

Okay, so those are all the off-limits places in Pittsburgh. Now let’s switch gears and discuss some spots where you can fly if you follow FAA regulations.

1. South Shore Riverfront Park

Address: Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Website: pittsburghpa.gov/citiparks
Airspace Map: Aloft

The South Shore Riverfront Park can be found on the shores of the Monongahela, near Birmingham Bridge. It is one of Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Heritage Trail System.

Visitors can enjoy the boat rides, picnic areas, and take a walk within the park.

Drone operators are free to capture the Birmingham Bridge, the Pittsburgh skyline, and the breathtaking river scenery.

2. Point of View Park

Address: 1435 Grandview Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15211
Website: TripAdvisor
Airspace Map: Aloft

Point of View Park is a spectacular park in the Mt. Washington area. This park is named after the Point of View sculpture, an important landmark for visitors and residents.

The bronze statue captures the monumental talk between George Washington and Guyasut, then leader of the Seneca people, discussing the land’s development along the Ohio river.

Due to its strategic location, drone operators get incredible views of downtown Pittsburgh, an area bustling with immense activity throughout the day and night.

In addition to this, drone users are also treated to the unique views of the twisting Ohio river and the numerous bridges close by.

3. Boyce Mayview Park

Address: 1551 Mayview Rd, Upper St Clair, PA 15241
Website: Walking trails map
Airspace Map: Aloft

The Boyce Mayview Park is home to diverse activities, making it the perfect spot to capture various events.

Located in upper St. Clair, visitors can enjoy some walking trails on the park’s southern side, with some areas reserved for various events and ball fields.

This part of the park also hosts a vegetable garden, making it perfect for plant lovers.

If you prefer un-crowded spaces, the woodlands will come in handy, providing open space for drone footage.

Take note that drones may be restricted in the northern part of the center.

4. Lake Elizabeth

Address: Lake Elizabeth, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Website: Lake Elizabeth
Airspace Map: Aloft

Located in West Park, Lake Elizabeth is a small recreational center with remarkable landscapes. It is home to an artificial lake, making it perfect for waterfront shots on your drone.

This spot also features beautiful pedestrian bridges, with green and well-kept lawns to match the area’s serenity.

The backdrop also provides unique shots of the city’s skyline, with occasional passing trains.

5. Millvale Riverfront Park

Address: 70 River Front Dr, Pittsburgh, PA 15209
Website: Riverfront Park | Millvale, PA
Airspace Map: Aloft

The Millvale Riverfront Park is one of a kind, with the park meandering along River Allegheny. It features a 1.7-mile trail that allows visitors to take in the area’s surroundings.

Drone users will especially be thrilled by the nearby Herrs island and Washington Crossing Bridge.

To get the perfect shot, consider launching at the green strip, as this will likely give you a strategic location to view the named spots.

6. Aspinwall Riverfront Park

Address: 285 River Ave, Aspinwall, PA 15215
Website: Aspinwall Riverfront Park
Airspace Map: Aloft

The Aspinwall Riverfront Park sits along the banks of the Allegheny river, a short distance from Pittsburgh’s city center.

Outdoor enthusiasts will love this recreation center, with the park being the perfect spot for sledding during the cold months and kayaking in the warmer weather.

The highland park lock and dam is located just a mile away, making it the perfect location for filming the scenic aerial views.

The industrial railway bridge will be your ideal spot if you are looking for a contrast to your everyday park visuals.

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Pittsburgh drone rules to know

To wrap up, make sure you check out this collection of official FAA drone laws, as they’ll help you conduct your drone operations properly and safely in Pittsburgh.

Do not fly your drone without a license

The FAA requires that you have a license whether you fly your drone only for fun or work.

Hobbyists must take The Recreational UAS Safety Test. This FAA test is free, and you can’t fail, as you can correct any wrong answers before submitting your test.

Commercial pilots must take the Part 107 exam, another FAA-administered test that’s admittedly quite harder to pass. Fortunately, we’ve got fantastic study resources on our blog, so don’t miss it!

Make sure your license is current before visiting Pittsburgh. The Remote Pilot Certificate expires every two years. If your license recently expired, you can’t fly until you take the FAA’s renewal exam.

All commercial drones must be registered

Commercial pilots also have to register all drones they’ll bring with them to Pittsburgh. You can register your UAV with the FAA. It costs $5 to register a drone, and the registration lasts three years.

Recreational drones over 0.55 pounds must be registered

Hobbyists aren’t necessarily exempt from registering their drones. It depends on what your drone weighs.

If you have a sub-0.55-pound drone, you can forego registration. For any drone that weighs or surpasses 0.55 pounds, you must register it. You’ll pay the same fee, and the registration still lasts for three years.

Do not fly your drone over 400 feet

The FAA prohibits drone pilots from flying more than 400 feet from the ground. Watch your altitude when you launch.

Don’t operate your drone faster than 100 miles per hour

Commercial pilots cannot use a drone at speeds exceeding 100 MPH. Again, the FAA expects you to fly responsibly and monitor your speeds.

Don’t fly closer than five miles to an airport

To reiterate our point from before, commercial and recreational pilots can fly no closer than five nautical miles from any Pittsburgh airport. You must give manned aircraft the right of way.

Do not use your drone in inclement weather

Pittsburgh can experience the seasons with the best of ‘em, meaning you’re in for snow, rain, ice, hail, strong winds, or fog depending on the time of year you visit.

Do not take your drone out in these weather conditions.  

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Pittsburgh is one of the most beloved cities in Pennsylvania and a fantastic place to fly a drone.

While you must stay away from military bases and airports, you have so many incredible parks and outdoor areas to explore, so have fun out there!