Chase Flynn | UAV Coach

Where to Fly a Drone Near Washington, D.C.

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It's often challenging to find a legal, safe, and visually interesting location to fly your drone, especially in a densely populated area with one or more airports.

After a round of comprehensive research, our team compiled a list of where to fly a drone near Washington, D.C. Here’s a guide we put together for drone laws in Virginia , and here’s another guide we put together for drone laws in Maryland that might be helpful.  

Where do you like to fly your drone near Washington, D.C.? We welcome your comments/experiences below.

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I am new to flying drones, I came to the site to figure outwhere to fly near DC.  I decided to try Sandy Point Park.  When I got to the park and was about to pay the entry fee, I told them what I was here for, flying a drone.  The park employee told me that drones were not allowed in the park to respect people’s privacy.

 

So don’t fly at Sandy Point.

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What about your rights?  Just because a drone is flying in the area doesn’t mean anyone’s privacy is being violated.  

I’ve never been there, maybe it’s just totally crowded, of coarse then you couldn’t fly there without flying over people, but using privacy as the standard is wrong.  I guess they don’t allow cell phones either.  

 

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23 hours ago, Sandman said:

I am new to flying drones, I came to the site to figure outwhere to fly near DC.  I decided to try Sandy Point Park.  When I got to the park and was about to pay the entry fee, I told them what I was here for, flying a drone.  The park employee told me that drones were not allowed in the park to respect people’s privacy.

 

So don’t fly at Sandy Point.

I am beta testing the new FAA's B4FLY mobile app and assuming I have the correct location of the park here is a screen shot from my iPhone.

IMG_1624.thumb.jpg.9baac981a541c8f3b53657b56e5b75ac.jpg

I would check again by calling the state park administration and don't go by just one park employee's word.

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I've been to a couple MD state parks and they both told me drones are not allowed.  Of course there is the Airspace loophole of taking off from outside the parks borders, but that's risky, limiting, and can still be frowned upon by park staff and potentially rude to park visitors if you're flying low.  So unless somebody can provide evidence that you are in fact allowed to fly in MD state parks, I would replace Sandy Point with something else. 

I would also note that the other locations might have restrictions set in place by the properties.  It's not just the state and federal laws you have to follow.  Every park might have their own restrictions you need to look into so you can't assume that it's OK to fly there if it's not a National or State park.  For example, Fredrick County has over a dozen parks, but only 5 allow drones WITH prior approval.   

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Hello Everyone! 

While we do our best to keep up with drone laws, it can be difficult to keep track of the drone laws in every city/state in this rapidly evolving industry. I have reached out to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and have not heard back from them yet. We always research all of the policies and regulations for every location and use the information that is available to us. At this time, we will be leaving the Maryland State Park locations as there is currently no official documentation regarding drone regulations within Maryland State Parks. We appreciate everyone who has shared this information and if there are any updates on this matter they will be addressed and posted.

Blue skies and safe flying! 

 - Chase 

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I fly at Chesapeake Bay Radio Control Club in Crownsville, MD in Anne Arundel County.  This is an AMA club.  While the club's field is within controlled airspace of BWI Airport, the club obtained a letter of agreement with BWI Air Traffic Control in August 2019.  Folks at the club are really friendly and always welcoming to guests.  

The field can be found here on Google Maps and the club website is here.

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Just an FYI - One of the spots on your list of places to fly near Washington DC, Fountainhead Regional Park, is governed by the NoVA Regional Park Authority.  They have a rule stating that you must obtain WRITTEN PERMISSION before flying a drone.  NOTE:  You can operate your sUAS from outside park property / boundary, and fly within the park.

§1.17 Remote-Control Devices and Powered Models or Toys - No person shall operate hobby rockets, remote-control gliders or powered remote-control or tethered planes, boats, cars or other like devices in a park except in areas designated by and with the express written permission of the Park Authority.

https://www.novaparks.com/sites/default/files/NVRPARegulations.pdf

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MD only has one lap pertaining to sUAS operations that I am aware of.  That law is §14–301.  This law mandates that only the State of MD can enact drone laws.

(a)

(1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.
(2) “Unmanned aircraft” means the flying portion of an unmanned aircraft system, flown by a pilot via a ground control system, or autonomously
through use of an onboard computer, a communication link, and any additional equipment that is necessary for the unmanned aircraft to operate safely.
(3) “Unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned aircraft and all the associated support equipment, control stations, data links, telemetry,
communications and navigation equipment, and other equipment necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft.
(b) Only the State may enact a law or take any other action to prohibit, restrict, or regulate the testing or operation of unmanned aircraft systems in the State.
(c) Subsection (b) of this section:
(1) preempts the authority of a county or municipality to prohibit, restrict, or regulate the testing or operation of unmanned aircraft systems; and
(2) supersedes any existing law or ordinance of a county or municipality that prohibits, restricts, or regulates the testing or operation of unmanned aircraft systems.
(d) This section does not affect federal preemption of State law.

 

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Well it looks like VA updated (as of 02 July 2020) its state park rules and drones are no longer authorized.  “Drones and other aircraft: Drones, other unmanned aerial vehicles including remote control aircraft, and aircraft in general cannot be flown in state parks pursuant to 4VAC5-30-400.”

https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/rules-and-regulations

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