Droning On: Recreational Drone Flight in Kentucky
Written by Kristi Street
Flying a drone can be an exhilarating experience, but be sure not to fall afoul of the law while doing so. For your safety, the safety of others, and even the safety of your drone, there are certain regulations you must follow while using a drone for recreational purposes.
While Kentucky has enacted some additional rules specific to drone operations in the state, recreational drone activity is largely covered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has some helpful information available at their website here. Firstly, if your drone weighs between 0.55 lbs and 55 lbs, you may register it online at the FAADroneZone. If your drone exceeds 55 lbs, you own the drone as a trustee under a trust agreement, or you use a voting trust to meet U.S. Citizenship requirements, you need to register your drone with the FAA via mail using the instructions here. You can also choose to register it regardless of these requirements, and you may be particularly interested in doing so if you need “N-number registration” to operate outside the U.S., or if you need a public record for a loan, lease, or ownership documents. Please visit the website linked previously to know which information you need in order to register your drone. In order to register you must be a US citizen, a lawful permanent resident, a corporation organized under the laws of the US or any state as long as the drone is based and primarily used in the U.S., or a governmental unit of the United States.
Secondly, recreational drone fliers must take a test known as The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST). The test is free and available online through a number of approved test administrators, available here. The test presents you with all the information you need and then asks you questions based on what you read. If you get a question wrong, don’t worry! You can correct your answers and continue on with the test. After completing the test, simply save and print your certificate. You will need your certificate while you operate your drone, ready to present to law enforcement officers if asked. If you lose your certificate, you will need to retake the test.
Once you’ve completed the test and (if applicable) registered your drone, there are some simple rules that the FAA has set forth about using it. The FAA has defined these rules as such:
- Fly only for recreational purposes (personal enjoyment).
- Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized Community Based Organization (CBO).
For more information on how to become an FAA-recognized CBO, read Advisory Circular 91-57C.
- Keep your drone within the visual line of sight or use a visual observer who is co-located (physically next to) and in direct communication with you.
- Give way to and do not interfere with other aircraft.
- Fly at or below FAA-authorized altitudes in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and surface Class E designated for an airport) only with prior FAA authorization by using LAANC or DroneZone.
- Fly at or below 400 feet in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace.
Note: Anyone flying a drone in the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS) is responsible for flying within the FAA guidelines and regulations. That means it is up to you as a drone pilot to know the rules: Where Can I Fly?
- Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage when flying.
- Have a current FAA registration, mark (PDF) your drones on the outside with the registration number, and carry proof of registration with you when flying.
Note: Beginning September 16, 2023, if your drone requires an FAA registration number it will also be required to broadcast Remote ID information (unless flown within a FRIA). For more information on drone registration, visit How to Register Your Drone.
- Do not operate your drone in a manner that endangers the safety of the national airspace system.
Source: Federal Aviation Administration.
Thirdly, there are the aforementioned Kentucky-specific rules for drone operation. Kentucky has enacted criminal laws, described here, stating that drone operators cannot take off, land, or operate drones in restricted airspaces, nor can they fly in a way that poses a risk of damage to property or physical injury to others. For more information on restricted airspaces and drone use, see this website. You can also download the free B4UFLY app to check for restricted airspaces in your area. Additionally, if you wish to fly a drone over a Kentucky State Park, you must apply for a permit; that application can be found here, under “Question: Can I fly a drone over a Kentucky State Park?” Note that while drone insurance is not necessary in most cases, it is required for flying a drone over a Kentucky State Park; more information is available on the application.
In conclusion, while flying a drone for recreational purposes is allowed by federal and state laws in Kentucky, there are certain restrictions one must be sure to obey. However, keep these rules and regulations in mind, and you won’t have to worry about a thing as you enjoy your outing with your drone.