To you, experiencing Nebraska’s Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, McConaughy Lake, Ponca State Park, Nebraska National Forest, or Niobrara State Park with your drone would be a dream come true. You’d launch your UAV today if you could, but you want to be clear on the rules first.
What are the drone laws in Nebraska?
Nebraska has federal and state drone laws but no local laws. Drone pilots must always follow Part 107 rules through the FAA and cannot fly in state recreation areas, state historical parks, and state parks.
In this in-depth guide, we’ll clearly explain every drone law in Nebraska so you know where you can fly and where you can’t go when your drone is in tow.
Federal Drone Laws in Nebraska
All states throughout the United States have federal drone laws instituted by the country’s government. These drone laws apply to Nebraska’s agency drone pilots, commercial drone pilots, and hobbyists.
Here are Nebraska’s federal drone laws in full.
Agency Drone Pilots
An agency drone pilot or government employee who uses drones for a fire or police department may need a Certificate of Authorization or COA.
If not, then these pilots must always follow the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 drone rules.
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Commercial Drone Pilots
Flying your drone as a source of income comes with a lot of rules to abide by.
According to Nebraska federal drone law, all commercial drone pilots must always follow Part 107 drone rules.
Under the FAA’s rules, commercial drone pilots are required to carry a Remote Pilot Certificate, which is also known as the Part 107 license.
Obtaining the license means first passing the Part 107 exam, a specialized test for commercial pilots.
The Part 107 exam includes 60 questions in all that cover the entirety of the FAA Part 107 rules.
Test takers are granted two and a half hours to finish the whole test. All the questions are multiple-choice and offer three choices.
To boost your chances of passing the Part 107 exam the first time, you might enroll in an online drone course. If so, we’ve reviewed them all. You can read our reviews here to select a great online drone school.
You’ll need a score of 70 percent to pass the Part 107 exam. Soon thereafter, you’re issued your Remote Pilot Certificate.
The certificate expires in two years, and you’ll have to take the FAA exam again at that time if you’re still flying your drone commercially, but this time you can take the test online.
Finally, you’re required as a commercial drone pilot to register your drone for $5 with the FAA. Drone registration lasts for three years.
All courses offered by Pilot Institute are taught by remote pilots, flight instructors, FAA commercial pilots, and other certified professionals.
Recreational Drone Pilots
Nebraska federal drone law applies to hobbyist drone pilots as well.
You’re expected to always follow Part 107 rules when doing tricks with your drone or otherwise flying for fun.
The FAA has a test just for recreational pilots that’s called the TRUST test. It’s short for The Recreational UAS Safety Test.
It’s far easier to pass the TRUST test than it is the Part 107 exam. The test is a lot shorter, and you can go back and change your answer after getting it wrong while you’re still taking the exam.
Once you’ve completed your TRUST test, the FAA will issue you a TRUST certificate. Carry this on your person when flying recreationally. The certificate is good for life.
Make sure you register your drone with the FAA if it weighs 0.55 pounds or over. The registration terms and fees are the same.
TRUST is a collaboration between the FAA and industry to provide TRUST and educational safety material to Recreational Flyers.
State Drone Laws in Nebraska
Next, let’s examine the one and only state drone law in Nebraska, which was instated by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission // 2018
According to a 2018 writeup in Nebraskaland, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission passed a new series of rules and laws that year that apply to all properties the Commission owns.
In state recreation areas, state historical parks, and state parks, “UAV use is not permitted.” This is, according to the Commission, “to ensure public safety and privacy.”
However, on “unique occasions,” the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission might issue drone pilots a special permit.
Further, any areas deemed state wildlife management areas or WMAs in Nebraska under the Commission’s jurisdiction also bar the use of drones.
A pilot would need a Special Occasion Permit to fly in an WMA. To obtain one, you’d have to contact a Commission district office near you and ask for an application.
Then your application would be reviewed by the appropriate parties, and a decision would be made on whether you’re eligible for a Special Occasion Permit.
Further, the Airborne Hunting Act, as well as Nebraska state law, “prohibit the use of aircraft, including UAVs, to harass birds, fish, or any other animal.
Drones should never be used to flush, chase or harass any wildlife, including, but not limited to, large flocks of migrating birds such as snow geese or sandhill cranes, or nesting birds, such as the peregrine falcons at the State Capitol building.”
Federal and state endangered species laws also prohibit drone pilots from harassing threatened and endangered species such as:
- Red knot
- Mountain plover
- Piping plover
- Least tern
- Whooping crane
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act is a federal law that protects those two birds.
Per the act, “UAVs should not be flown to observe eagles or near their nests. Eagles may attack drones, especially if flown near active nests or near large congregations of over-wintering or migrating species.”
Yikes. It sounds like you wouldn’t want your drone too close to an eagle even if you were allowed!
Are There Local Drone Laws in Nebraska?
What about Nebraska’s local drone laws?
Nebraska is one of a handful of states across the country that doesn’t have any local drone laws.
These laws are usually decided on by a city, town, village, or county and include rules and ordinances to keep drone use limited.
Perhaps one reason for the lack of local drone laws is that the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission drone laws are so very comprehensive, but that’s just a guess.
Even in the absence of Nebraska local drone laws, that’s never an excuse to be lax when flying your drone.
At all times, you’re still subjected to Nebraska’s federal and state drone laws, which means obeying FAA Part 107 rules and staying out of areas owned by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Nebraska Drone Law FAQs
To inspire the utmost confidence as you launch your drone in the beautiful state of Nebraska, we’ve compiled this FAQ section.
It’s designed to fill in any gaps in your knowledge, so you’re readier to legally fly your drone.
When you take the test, you’re protected under the Drone Pro Academy’s pass guarantee. If you fail your Part 107 test the first time, the academy will give you $160 to put towards retesting!
Can You Fly a Drone in a Public Park in Nebraska?
Visiting a public park is a fantastic (and often free) way to witness the variety of landscapes that Nebraska boasts. From rock formations to sandhills and valleys, this state has ‘em all.
You’ll recall from two sections ago that the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission bans drone pilots from operating a UAV in any state historical park or state recreational area.
The presence of the word “state” might make you think this means a state park, but it’s just referring to a historical park or recreational area in Nebraska.
Some of Nebraska’s historical parks are the Homestead National Historical Park, Arbor Lodge Historical Park, Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, Windlass Hill, and Rock Creek Station State Historical Park.
As those names imply, some historical parks are state parks, and others are public parks. Regardless, you’re banned from flying your drone in any historical park unless you have a permit.
As for recreation areas, those are areas for designated recreational activities. By that definition, a public park would be a recreation area, and your drone would not be allowed.
While you can always check with the local parks and rec association, it’s safe to say you’d probably not be allowed to fly your drone in a public park throughout Nebraska.
Can You Fly a Drone in a State Park in Nebraska?
As for the multitude of gorgeous state parks scattered throughout Nebraska, the rules are a lot clearer.
Per the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission rules, unless you’re issued a permit for flight, then you cannot fly your drone in any of the state parks in Nebraska.
Nebraska is a gorgeous state renowned for its wilderness and the wildlife that calls it home.
To protect that wildlife, much of which is endangered, the drone laws in Nebraska bar pilots from flying in most parks without a permit.
Peltier has quite the experience, making him qualified to teach about photography and drones in separate courses. He was a part of the U.S. Air Force as an F-15E flight instructor for a decade.
Nebraskaland Magazine (link)