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Drone Laws in Oklahoma

Drone enthusiasts flock to Oklahoma for sights such as Turner Falls, Beavers Bend State Park and Nature Center, Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, and Broken Bow Lake.

Before you launch your drone in these and other places throughout the state, what are the UAV laws here?

Oklahoma has federal and state drone laws but no local laws. Drone pilots must always follow FAA Part 107 rules and avoid facilities deemed critical infrastructure facilities throughout the state.

In this comprehensive guide to Oklahoma’s drone laws, we’ll explain all the pertinent federal and state drone laws at play so you can be a safe drone pilot.

There’s lots of great info to come, so check it out!

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Federal Drone Laws in Oklahoma

The United States government institutes federal drone laws for every state across the country, Oklahoma among them.

These federal laws apply to agency, commercial, and recreational drone pilots. Let’s go over the state’s federal drone laws now.

Agency Drone Pilots

Government or agency drone pilots that use drones in Oklahoma for professional purposes must have a Certificate of Authorization or COA or follow the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 rules.

Agency drone pilots include law enforcement and fire department employees, among others.

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Commercial Drone Pilots

Oklahoma federal drone law mandates that commercial drone pilots in the state must also obey Part 107 rules when operating a UAV.

The FAA, in its Part 107 rules, requires commercial pilots to carry a Remote Pilot Certificate when using a drone. This certificate is only attainable by passing the Part 107 exam.

» MORE: FAA Part 107 for Commercial Drone Pilots

If you have yet to take the Part 107 exam, you must be at least 16 years old with a full comprehension of the English language. The FAA must deem you both mentally and physically capable of flying as well.

The Part 107 exam includes more than 50 multiple-choice questions on all areas of the Part 107 rules. You must earn a score of at least 70 percent to pass and obtain your Remote Pilot Certificate.

Since the Part 107 exam requires paid registration each time you want to take it, many aspiring commercial drone pilots want to pass it the first time around.

We have a list of the best expert-led drone courses for your perusal here. We highly recommend registering for at least one course ahead of taking the Part 107 exam, as you can prep for what will be on the exam.

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You might have a higher chance of passing!

Once you have your Remote Pilot Certificate, the FAA also requires you to register your drone for $5. For the next three years, you can now fly your commercial drone.

Well, in two years, your Remote Pilot Certificate will expire.

You used to have to take the Part 107 exam all over again to recertify. Now commercial drone pilots can take a free online recertification exam through the FAA instead.

» MORE: Renewal of Your Part 107 Certificate

You have to earn a perfect score on the exam, but that’s not so hard considering you can go back and change any wrong answers before you submit your test. Then your license is recertified for two more years!

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Recreational Drone Pilots

Federal drone law in Oklahoma applies to recreational drone pilots aka hobbyists as well.

You’re also expected to always obey Part 107 rules when flying your drone.

According to those rules, hobbyists must register a drone with the FAA (for the same fee) if the drone weighs at least 0.55 pounds.

For drones that are under that weight threshold, you can pass on the registration. These are usually beginner or toy drones.

The terms of your registration last for three years as well.

The FAA requires recreational drone pilots to carry a TRUST license when flying. If you don’t have your TRUST license yet, then you need to sign up to take The Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST exam.

This exam is a free-to-take online test that consists of a little over 20 questions. All questions that you answer correctly or incorrectly are displayed as such as you complete the exam.

You have the opportunity to go back and correct your wrong answers if you wish. Then you’ll be issued your TRUST certificate.

This certificate never expires.

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State Drone Laws in Oklahoma

Next, let’s look at HB 2559, the sole state-level drone law in Oklahoma.

HB 2559 // 2016

Passed in 2016, HB 2559 is an act that was put into law to ban certain usages of drones in the state of Oklahoma.

Namely, drones are barred from flying “over a critical infrastructure facility” at a height that’s under 400 feet over ground level.

What does HB 2559 count as a critical infrastructure facility?

In Section 1, A., a critical infrastructure facility is defined as “one of the following, if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders, or if clearly marked with a sign or signs that are posted on the property, are reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, and indicate that entry is forbidden or flight of unmanned aircraft without site authorization is forbidden.”

The following structures constitute critical infrastructure facilities according to HB 2559:

  • Alumina or petroleum refineries
  • Electrical control centers, switching stations, substations, or power-generating facilities
  • Rubber, polymer, or chemical manufacturing facilities
  • Water pump stations, wastewater treatment plants, water treatment facilities, or water intake structures
  • Natural gas compressor stations
  • Liquid natural gas storage facilities or terminals
  • Telecommunications central switching offices
  • Cell towers and other wireless telecommunications infrastructure
  • Freight transportation facilities such as trucking terminals, railroad switching yards, or ports
  • Gas processing plants, “including a plant used in the processing, treatment or fractionation of natural gas or natural gas liquids”
  • Transmission facilities used by federally licensed television or radio stations
  • Steelmaking facilities that have electric arc furnaces for steel production
  • “A facility identified and regulated by the United States Department of Homeland Security Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program”
  • Dams that are regulated by the federal or state government
  • Natural gas distribution utility facilities such as natural gas storage facilities, regulator stations, aboveground piping, metering stations, town border or city gate stations, and pipeline interconnections
  • “Any aboveground portion of an oil, gas, hazardous liquid or chemical pipeline that is enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders”

In Section B, the rules for drone usage are clearly laid out as follows:

“A person shall not intentionally or knowingly:

  1. Operate an unmanned aircraft over a critical infrastructure facility if the unmanned aircraft is less than four hundred (400) feet above ground level;
  2. Allow an unmanned aircraft to make contact with a critical infrastructure facility, including any person or object on the premises of or within the facility; or
  3. Allow an unmanned aircraft to come within a distance of a critical infrastructure facility that is close enough to interfere with the operations of or cause a disturbance to the facility.”

The federal government, the state, and the state’s political subdivisions as well as those who are working for the above parties such as law enforcement is exempt, as are critical infrastructure facility operators or owners.

Does Oklahoma Have Any Local Drone Laws?

Local drone laws are instituted and enforced by cities, towns, villages, and counties throughout the state. Not every state has them, and in the case of Oklahoma, that’s true.

However, considering the extensiveness of HB 2559 as well as Oklahoma’s federal drone laws, it’s not like there’s a shortage of drone laws for pilots throughout the state to follow.

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Oklahoma Drone Law FAQs

Before we conclude, we have this FAQs section on Oklahoma drone laws as they pertain to public and state parks. This information is handy to have before launching your drone!

Can You Fly a Drone in a Public Park in Oklahoma?

From McKinley Park to Lake Overholser Park, South Lakes Park, Scissortail Park, Earlywine Park, Martin Park Nature Center, and many more, Oklahoma is a state rife with public parks.

Are you allowed to fly your drone commercially or recreationally in these public parks?

There are no state or federal drone laws in Oklahoma prohibiting you from doing so unless the parks are located near a critical infrastructure facility. Then you should avoid the park and try another.

The District Superintendent has the right to revoke access to drone flights in recreational areas at any time.

Can You Fly a Drone in a State Park in Oklahoma?

State parks are usually a must-see destination, and that’s no different in Oklahoma.

Parks such as Robbers Cave State Park, Beavers Bend State Park and Nature Center, Lake Thunderbird State Park, Salt Plains State Park, Lake Murray State Park, and Foss State Park attract many visitors per year.

Those visitors could include you, the drone pilot who’s reading this right now. Oklahoma state parks do permit drone pilots to fly.

Do keep in mind that once again, the District Superintendent can revoke UAV access.

Being granted the freedom to fly a drone in a state park is a rare occurrence, so always follow Part 107 rules!

Conclusion

Oklahoma is a state that protects its critical infrastructure facilities from drone pilots. You’re also expected to follow federal drone laws and Part 107 rules.

With no local drone laws and no drones prohibited from state and public parks, you do have plenty of flying freedom in Oklahoma. Always fly responsibly!

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References:
HB 2559 (link)