Queens is one of New York City’s five boroughs. Located on Long Island, the urban sprawl features a picturesque cityscape, Citi Field, Queens Museum, and Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Can you bring a drone here and enjoy the sights?
Most of Queens is a no-fly zone due to the city’s proximity to LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airports. Forest Park and Flushing Meadows Corona Park have model aircraft fields where you can take your drone for a spin.
Before you pack up your bags and venture out to Queens, you’re not going to want to miss the handy information we have for you.
You’ll learn more about where you can use your drone and where you must refrain, so check it out!
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
Can you fly a drone in Queens, NY?
Flying a drone in New York is an iffy proposition at best. New York City outlaws the activity entirely, which leaves you wondering if you can use your drone in nearby Queens.
For the most part, no, you can’t.
The reason might not have to do with what you’d think. It’s less to do with densely-populated neighborhoods, skyscraping buildings as far as the eye can see, and crowded streets.
Instead, it comes down to airport proximity.
The FAA requires that drones not fly any closer than five nautical miles to the closest airport.
It just so happens that Queens is rather close to several New York City airports, including LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy Airports.
All you have to do is check a drone map, and you’ll see that most of Queens is a designated no-fly zone. If you use your drone too close to an airport, you risk causing interference with manned aircraft.
You could also interrupt the manned aircraft’s flight path and risk crashing into it. Your drone will not survive a manned aircraft collision, and the accident could damage the manned aircraft.
If people are onboard, which is likely considering that New York’s airports are major travel hubs, their lives are at risk.
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Where can you fly a drone in Queens, NY?
Queens is 178 square miles. The entirety of the city is not near an airport, so while you’ll have to refrain from using your drone in most of Queens, you can still eke out a few places to fly.
Namely, you can use model aircraft fields. Let’s take a look at your options.
The third biggest Queens park, Forest Park is a moderate 538 acres, with 165 of those acres trees alone. Many of the trees date back over a century.
On your way to the model aircraft field, you may see the park’s golf course, skate park, baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, pond, dog runs, running track, carousel, and playgrounds.
There’s something here for everyone, as you can see!
Our recommendation? Get to Forest Park earlier in the day to beat the other drone pilots. Once the model aircraft field gets too congested, you won’t want to fly, as it’s too risky.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Known as Flushing Meadows by residents, Flushing Meadows Corona Park in northern Queens is 897 acres, putting it in the top five largest parks in New York City.
The site of the 1939 World’s Fair, Flushing Meadows includes the:
- New York State Pavilion
- Queens Zoo
- Queens Theatre in the Park
- Queens Museum
- New York Hall of Science
- Citi Field
- USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
The park also has a model aircraft field where you can fly your drone without interruption.
If you don’t mind leaving Queens and flying in nearby Staten Island or Brooklyn, you have yet more model aircraft fields to explore. Here’s a list.
Calvert Vaux Park
Brooklyn’s Calvert Vaux Park is a public park with a model aircraft field. The park is 85.53 acres and features a playground, baseball diamonds, and bodies of water like Coney Island Creek and Calvert Vaux Cove.
It’s a peaceful stretch of greenery, especially the model aircraft field. You won’t be disappointed if you venture out.
If you pop on over to Staten Island, don’t miss LaTourette Park. Previously owned by Anne and David LaTourette and used as a farm in the 1830s, the land was later converted into a park by the mid-1950s.
The park has an esteemed history. The LaTourette mansion from the 1870s is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The area was used during the Revolutionary War, and the park also features the Richmondtown Restoration, a rebuilt village showcasing Staten Island’s history across four centuries.
There’s a lot to drink in here, and you’ll be amongst all that culture and history when you take your drone to the model aircraft field.
Another great Brooklyn park with a model aircraft field is Marine Park.
Originally owned in the 1920s by the Whitney family, the family donated the land with the intention of it becoming a park. That’s exactly what happened.
Marine Park is beloved for its Salt Marsh Nature Center, a protected area where marsh-favoring wildlife live. The model aircraft field is another standout!
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What happens if you fly a drone illegally in Queens, NY?
Since Queens is a part of New York City, that city’s rule for citizens to call 911 if they spot someone using a drone illegally still stands.
You’re allowed in model aircraft fields but nowhere marked on a drone map as a no-fly zone.
Let’s say you visit a park besides Flushing Meadows Corona Park or Forest Park. Under New York City Park Rule 1-05(r)(2), that’s illegal.
You could receive a fine of $1,000, 90 days of imprisonment, or possibly both punishments.
If you crash your drone in New York City, you will likely receive a Reckless Endangerment charge. In most cases, it’s Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree under Penal Law Section 120.20.
A Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree charge counts as a Class A misdemeanor. In New York State, a Class A misdemeanor includes charges like drug possession, assault, and theft.
If convicted, you could receive a fine of $1,000 or have to spend a year in jail.
New York drone laws to learn before you visit Queens
Knowing where to fly matters in a city like Queens, but that’s not all you need to know as you prepare to visit New York.
Here are some other drone laws to keep in mind when operating in a model aircraft field.
Bring your license and registration
It’s your responsibility to keep both your drone license and registration current, especially if you’ll actively use your drone.
Recreational pilots don’t have to worry quite as much. Your TRUST certificate never expires, and you might not even have to register your drone if it weighs 0.55 pounds or less.
Commercial pilots should check that their Remote Pilot Certificates haven’t yet expired. That happens every two years from the date you receive the license.
You can now recertify your license for free by taking an online FAA exam.
You also have to register your drone regardless of its weight. The registration lasts for three years.
Make sure you carry your license and registration on your person in case you’re asked to produce it.
Do not use your drone in inclement weather
New York is one of those states that experiences all four seasons.
If you’re planning your drone expedition in the autumn or winter especially, you must not fly in inclement weather. That means staying inside during periods of high winds, rain, snow, sleet, hail, and fog.
Do not fly your drone higher than 400 feet
According to FAA guidelines, you cannot ascend over 400 feet in the air with your drone at any point. Don’t try to fly as high as Queens’ skyscrapers!
Stay five nautical miles from military bases
Besides the required distance of five nautical miles from airports and heliports, the FAA also requires drone pilots to keep that distance from military bases. They too are restricted airspace.
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Queens, New York, as a part of New York City, restricts drone usage, but not entirely. You can use your drone in a model aircraft field but not around much of the rest of the city due to airport proximity.
We recommend using a drone app with real-time map updates so you can plan a safe, enjoyable drone flight. Good luck and happy flying!