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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. Boyce Mayview Park

In nearby Upper St. Clair is Boyce Mayview Park, which was acquired in 1996. The park is 238 acres of trails, batting cages, concessions, pavilions, multipurpose fields, and softball and baseball fields.

Boyce Mayview Park also features Miracle Field, where the Miracle League plays, and the Clubhouse Playground and Community & Recreation Center.

While you will have to fly a good distance from crowds (and the sports fields), the trails offer more seclusion and stunning natural views that drone enthusiasts should love.

2. Allegheny RiverTrail Park

Along the Allegheny River in nearby Aspinwall is Aspinwall Riverfront Park, which has since been renamed the Allegheny RiverTrail Park.

The park features dog paths, a playground, kayaking, and live entertainment as part of the Rock the River Concert Series.

You shouldn’t use your drone during any live events, but by day, the park is fair game to walk around, breathe in some fresh air, and capture incredible sights on your drone.

3. Millvale Riverfront Park

Millvale Riverfront Park is fewer than 10 minutes from Pittsburgh, so it’s not going out of your way at all. The park features the beloved Millvale Riverfront Trail, which expands for approximately 1.7 miles.

You can reach Heinz Stadium, PNC Park, and the North Shore along the trail. You’ll also witness incredible views of the Allegheny River and Herr’s Island, so make sure you have your drone camera ready.

Don’t leave the park without stopping by the Three Rivers Water Trail, which affords glimpses into nature and Pennsylvania’s long, fascinating history.  

4. Lake Elizabeth

Since 1868, Lake Elizabeth has charmed Pennsylvanians.

The lake got an upgrade in the late 1960s by an architectural firm. The firm added a series of lagoons, a fountain, and a concrete, trapezoid-shaped water feature that dissects the lake into the shape of a V.

The bridge across the lake and the lines of colorful, bright trees in the area make Lake Elizabeth a spot to visit across all four seasons.

You can take refuge in the shade in the summer, drink in the autumn colors in the fall, and experience a snow-fallen landscape in the winter.

5. South Shore Riverfront Park and Trail

In Downtown Pittsburgh, the South Shore Riverfront Park and Trail goes from 25th Street to 29th Street, stretching 3.4 acres.

The park starts in Downtown Pittsburgh and continues through the Monogahela River upriver’s south banks.

A newer park opened in 2012, South Shore Riverfront Park is a relaxing place to spend an afternoon with your drone. Make sure to keep your distance from crowds.

6. Point of View Park

We’d also suggest Point of View Park for flying a drone in Pittsburgh.

This tiny parklet by the Grand View Scenic Byway Park is right on Mount Washington’s edge at Grandview Avenue at Sweetbriar Street.

The name of the park comes from the eponymous bronze sculpture by James A. West that was erected in the area in 2006.

Another nickname for Point of View Park is Photography Park since it’s a popular spot for photographers from all walks of life to gather. You should feel right at home!

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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!