Want to fly your drone in the state of North Carolina but are not familiar with the rules? Read the following article and learn the main drone laws in North Carolina and restrictions specific to this state.

Can I Have A Drone In North Carolina?

North Carolina

Drones are allowed in North Carolina for recreational and commercial uses, subject to FAA regulations and flight controls enforced by local governments.  

However, there are a lot of restrictions within North Carolina’s jurisdiction, which we will be sure to discuss below.

What Type Of Drones Does The North Carolina Legislature Stand Behind?

General Prohibition

State agencies, individuals, or entities cannot use UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle/drone) to surveil an individual or private real estate property without an official warrant.

The exception to this rule is any law enforcement agency of the State or political subdivision of the State in case:

  • That there’s a high risk of terrorist attack 

  • They conduct surveillance in an area they have a legal right to be 

  • They have a search warrant 

  • It prevents danger to life or damage to property 

  • They conduct a pursuit of an escapee or suspect

It’s also prohibited to launch, land, or operate drones within either 500 feet horizontal or 250 feet vertical distance from any confinement facility. 

Parks & Cultural Preserves

It’s prohibited to take off, land, or operate a drone within or upon any state park area or state park water surface. 

Towns, Cities, Counties

The following towns and cities ban the use of drones in the specific areas:

  • Town of Beech Mountain (all town-owned property, except with official written permission)

  • The city of Kannapolis (in all city parks)

  • Gaston County (city park)

  • City of Raleigh (nature preserves, nature parks, wetland centers, cemeteries, and city lakes)

City of Raleigh

Photo: https://www.planetware.com/north-carolina/best-parks-in-raleigh-us-nc-73.htm

The parks below have designated areas where you can fly a drone recreationally between dawn and dusk:

  1. Baileywick Park

  2. Eastgate Park

  3. Spring Forest Park

  4. Marsh Creek Park

  5. Dorothea Dix Park

  6. Southgate Park

Within their jurisdictions, North Carolina counties or municipalities have specific restrictions. For the most up-to-date rules, we recommend consulting the local government.

Recreational Drone Flying in North Carolina

Following Drone Laws in the USA defined by FAA Part 107 guidelines, you can fly a drone for fun if it weighs under 55 pounds.

To use a drone recreationally, you must pass The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry the proof of test passage with you.

You’ll also need to:

  • Fly within the visual-line-of-sight and during daylight

  • Have a co-located observer in contact with you

  • Do not interfere with crewed aircraft

  • Avoid flying near airports 

  • Fly under or at 400 feet in controlled - Class B, C, D, E - or uncontrolled airspace (class G)

  • Check flying restrictions on the B4UFLY app or the UAS Facility Maps page

  • Have a registration paper with you (or in electronic form)

  • Mark any drone weighing more than 0.55 or less than 55 pounds with a registration number 

  • Stay away from drugs or alcohol

  • Nor fly recklessly 

  • Avoid flying near critical infrastructure, restricted areas, private properties, or people.

Do I Have To Register My Drone In North Carolina?

You’ll need to register your drone if it weighs more than 0.55 or less than 55 pounds. You can register online using your name, address, email address, as well as the make, model, and the serial number of the drone.

Can I Still Get Penalties If I Use A Drone In North Carolina?

Drone in the sky

If you intentionally violate any laws and regulations or fly your drone recklessly, you can be accountable for civil or criminal penalties. 

Crimes are categorized:

  • Class H felony (interference with manned aircraft)

  • Class E felony (weapon attached to a drone)

  • Class 1 misdemeanor (fishing and hunting with a drone)

  • Class A1 misdemeanor (publishing of images taken through infrared/thermal imaging tech attached to a drone)

What If I Want To Fly My Commercial Drone In North Carolina?

A valid North Carolina UAS Commercial Operators Permit is required for all commercial drone operators. All pilots who fly under 14 CFR Part 107 (small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)) must comply with this requirement. 

A State Permit is only available to commercial drone pilots who have already undergone the NCDOT's UAS Knowledge Test. Furthermore, commercial drone operators must present documentation of their current Remote Pilot Certificate when performing commercial UAV operations.

Also, certain activities are exempt from Part 107 and will need a waiver.


About the Author
 Ruan Nelio

When I'm not geeking out over the newest drones, I'm busy flying my DJI Mavic 2 Pro all over Oslo. The coolest part about this job is I get to keep some of the drones I review, which happens to be how I got my Mavic 2!

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