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Fly your drone in NYC? Best to watch this video first!

You’d like to fly your drone in NYC? Well, it is probably best to watch this video first. Griffin Hammond does a great job explaining why it’s mostly illegal to fly your drone in NYC. He lists four main reasons as to why he, even as an FAA-certified pilot, can’t fly drones in New York City. There’s a fifth reason, not mentioned in the video, that should also warn you against flying your unmanned aircraft in the big apple. Luckily there are a few places where you can still legally fly and you will not be hunted down by the NYPD.

Flying your drone in New York City? Well…

Griffin Hammond explains in his well put together video the four reasons why you can’t fly your drone legally in NYC.

  1. FAA Part 107 says you can’t fly over people.
  2. NYC Parks prohibit drones.
  3. Most of NYC is Class B airspace.
  4. City administrative code: “Drones are illegal

But there is actually one more reason. There is an old NYC law that effectively prohibits drone flying within the city boundaries.

“c. Take offs and landings. It shall be unlawful for any person [n]avigating an aircraft to take off or land, except in an emergency, at any place within the limits of the city other than places of landing designated by the department of transportation or the port of New York authority.”

This law dates back approximately 70 years and was meant to apply to the operation of large manned aircraft, not the small unmanned aircraft systems or drones that people fly nowadays. Many professional drone pilots and industry experts, don’t think the NYC law holds up to scrutiny. It is 70 years old, it was clearly not written with drones in mind and they don’t believe it’s constitutional or enforceable. The law creates a legal grey area, where responsible operators worry that they might get in trouble even if they fly safely and follow all FAA rules. Meanwhile, there’s plenty of reason to think the outdated NYC law would not hold up to a judge’s scrutiny.

Griffin Hammond explains why it’s mostly illegal to drone in NYC

Where can you legally fly your drone in NYC?

Luckily there are a few places within NYC where you can legally fly your drone.

  • Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens
  • Forest Park in Queens
  • Marine Park in Brooklyn (paid membership)
  • Calvert Vaux Park in Brooklyn (paid membership)
  • La Tourette Park (Greenbelt) on Staten Island

Good resources

Good resources to check before flying a drone anywhere in the US:


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Avatar for Haye Kesteloo Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys and Electrek. Haye can be reached at or @hayekesteloo