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Can You Fly a Drone in Destin, Florida?

Have you been asking yourself whether you can fly a drone in Destin, Florida, or not? If so, then you have come to the right place. This post will answer your question and provide detailed information about flying drones in Destin, Florida.

Can You Fly a Drone in Destin, Florida?

Flying a drone in Destin, Florida, will require you to adhere to the registered Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) laws and regulations.

Also, you need to check airspace maps carefully to determine if your location has airspace restrictions and whether you need to apply for clearance in order to fly a drone.

As a drone expert, it’s important to keep up-to-date on the latest drone operations and laws. It will enable you to stay safe and compliant with the updated drone rules despite the continuous technological changes. 

Therefore, let us dive right in to understand everything you need to know about flying drones in the state of Florida, specifically the city of Destin, and local, state, and federal laws.

Local drone laws in Destin, Florida

As we all know, Destin, Florida, has the best emerald green waters and white beaches that attract many people. Therefore, you may be longing to fly your drone and explore the beautiful places in the area from the air.

However, when flying a drone in Destin, Florida, there are some restrictions due to the nearby infrastructure and other facilities, and you must be familiar with them before flying.

For instance, Eglin Air Force Base to the north of Destin will impact whether you can fly in any given location in the Destin area. Also, numerous airports and helipads in the area will impact the airspace clearance for drone flights.

Florida State drone laws

Florida State drone laws are drone laws drafted by the Florida Legislature and enacted throughout the entire state of Florida.

The Florida Department of Sports and the Florida Legislature states that there are four state-wide laws regarding drone operations in the state.

The state laws include:

HB 1027 // 2017:

This law asserts that drone operations should adhere to the local UAS rules. It ensures that the Florida Legislature is the only body that can enact laws governing the use of drones in the state. 

However, it can give chances to the local governments to make drone ordinances concerning voyeurism, reckless endangerment, nuisances, harassment, property damage, and other illegal acts.

In most cases, the law bans drone operations on crucial infrastructure.

SB 766 // 2015:

This law states that you are not allowed to use your drone to take pictures of private property owners or tenants without their permission.

SB 92 // 2013:

This law defines what a drone is and how law enforcement restricts its operation.

The law also states that you may operate a drone after getting a warrant or in case of an attack, including terrorism, to help look for missing people or to prevent loss of lives. 

If inappropriate drone use harms you, you will be required to follow some civil action.

Florida Administrative Code 5l-4.003 // 2016:

This law prohibits you from operating drones on managed lands like Florida parks and forests. However, if you have permission from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, you may operate them at a helistop or runway.

Permission is usually derived from determining the drone’s takeoff and landing to ensure people’s safety. It will also ensure that there will be no damage to the forest resources and interference with the forest’s management goals as indicated in the management plans. 

You will not have to obtain permission from the Service for an official agency or emergency.

Florida Administrative Code 40C-9.320 // 2004

This law states that you are not allowed to take off or land on District lands without authorization by the Special Use Authority.

Every drone pilot who uses a drone in Florida state for business purposes (commercially) must follow the FAA’s part 107 rules and regulations. This means you must have an FAA certificate for commercial drone use.

Federal drone laws

Before flying a drone in Florida and the entirety of the US, you need to know about the following federal laws for drone use enacted by the federal government. 

  • You must adhere to the FAA’s Part 107 Small UAS Rule (Part 107) requirements to fly a drone for business or commercial purposes in Florida state. Part 107 involves obtaining a Remote Pilot Certificate after passing the FAA’s Aeronautical Knowledge Test.
  • As the FAA requires, recreational drone pilots in Florida should take the Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST). They should also adhere to the FAA’s recreational model aircraft rules. For instance, you will have to pay $5 for your registration if you operate a drone weighing more than 0.55 lbs (250g). 

Also, some rules govern the operation of recreational drones in altitude and airspace. For example, when flying a drone, you should keep it within the line of sight.

  • Suppose you are a government employee who wants to operate a drone in Florida state. In that case, you can get a federal Certificate of Authorization (COA) or operate it under FAA’s Part 107 rules and regulations.
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Commercial drone pilots

As we mentioned, commercial drone pilots must follow the FAA’s Part 107 Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule for drone operation. The rule indicates that:

  • You will have to possess a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA to enable you to fly a drone for commercial purposes.
  • A drone pilot must fly the drone in Class G airspace.
  • You must visit the FAADronZone website to register your UAV with FAA.
  • Ensure that your UAV is kept within the visual line of sight.
  • Ensure that your UAV weighs less than 55 pounds, the total of the takeoff and payload.
  • You have to give way to any manned aircraft.
  • Ensure that you are flying your drone at or below 400 feet.
  • You must employ anti-collision lighting when flying in the evening or during civil twilight.
  • You will have to fly at or under 100 mph.
  • You can only fly your drone from a moving vehicle in an area with a sparse population.

Commercial drone pilots can obtain a Part 107 waiver from the FAA for all these rules except for the weight requirement and the need to fly in Class G airspace.

However, application and approval for the special airspace authorization (LAANC) by the FAA can also help bypass the requirement of Class G airspace.

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Recreational drone pilots

Recreational drone operators are those who fly drones for fun. Flying a drone for recreational purposes will require you to follow the rules and regulations under the FAA’s model aircraft regulations. The rules include:

  • A drone expert must take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST), as the FAA states, before flying a drone.
  • Ensure you visit the FAADronZone website to register your UAV with the FAA.
  • You are not allowed to fly your drone for any side job as it is only meant for recreational or hobby purposes.
  • Do not fly your drone near other aircraft.
  • When flying your drone, keep away from nearby emergency response efforts. 
  • Adhere to the community-based safety rules and ensure you fly within the nationwide community-based organization plan (CBO), such as the AMA.
  • Ensure that you are flying your drone within the visual line of sight.
  • You can only fly in Class G airspace. However, you may apply for an airspace authorization (LAANC) to enable you to fly in Class B, C, D, or E-controlled airspace.
  • Ensure that you are flying your drone under 55 lbs except when you have a community-based organization certificate.
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Can you fly a drone without a permit in Destin, Florida?

A simple answer to this question is no. Due to the proximity (less than five miles) of several local airports and more importantly, Eglin Air Force Base, there are many areas you cannot fly a drone at all.

However, it is possible to get LAANC clearance to fly in some areas in or near Destin, Florida.

Drone enthusiasts can legally fly drones in Destin, Florida, but you must first go through the proper procedures to get airspace authorization.

» MORE: How to Apply for LAANC Authorization?

Don’t make the mistake of going out to fly without doing that first, or you may get slapped with some fines or worse.

What are the key points about drone operations in Destin, Florida?

Below are some of the essential points you need to know before you start operating your drone in Destin, Florida:

  • You must have registration proof and indicate the registration number on the outermost part of the drone.
  • In many airspaces, you should fly your drone under feet 400.
  • If you are a commercial drone operator, you must register your drone with the FAA. Also, there are particular FAA necessities like an FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test (Part 107) for those operating drones, particularly for business and work.
  • You cannot fly your drone over a group of people, stadiums, or even public gatherings. It means you need to fly your drone with the consent of people. 
  • Do not use any alcohol or drugs while operating a drone.
  • Do not fly your drone near restricted airspaces, airports, stadiums, sporting events, and Washington D.C.
  • Moving drugs with a drone is illegal and can lead to a first-degree crime.
  • Never fly drones past or near areas, including the accident sites, where the respondents are at work.
  • Do not deploy a drone to capture images of private property or people staying in them.
  • It is against Florida’s anti-stalking laws to stalk someone using a drone.
  • Never fly a drone over a crucial infrastructure facility as it violates the law. Such facilities are restricted to chemical manufacturing facilities, correctional facilities, natural gas storage facilities, mining facilities, aboveground gas pipelines, and wireless communications facilities.
  • Assault or battery charges can result from hitting or threatening to hit someone using a drone.

Where can you fly your drone in Destin, Florida?

There are some great places to fly your drone in Destin, Florida, depending on where you are.

Many small airports, helipads, and other bases are very close to the western part of Destin, Florida, so if you’re on the western side of the peninsula, you may not be able to get clearance to fly.

However, there are many great opportunities to fly on the eastern side. For example, you can fly your drone on the Seaside and Grayton Beach.

Also, the Destin Bridge Crab Island is a great place to fly your drone. However, you should be conscious and careful since there are parasailers and helicopter tours.

UAV Forecast is a good tool to check whether your location is clear for drone flight and whether you will need to apply for an airspace authorization.

It is usually advisable to fly your drones in the morning on the beach since most people who watch the sunset in the late afternoon may crowd the area. This can hinder your drone operation.

You can also fly your drone at Destin City, in front of the Shoreline Towers on the beach. The park is in such a way that:

  • Everybody can access it.
  • There is beautiful beach scenery in the public beach area. 
  • You must choose the right time to visit the place to avoid flying your drone during busy hours.
  • The area is covered with a lot of water and no trees.