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Recreational Operators

Drone in Flight
What is a Recreational Operator?

A recreational operator is anyone who uses a drone solely for recreation. Anyone who flies a drone for monetary or business purposes is not a recreational operato​​​​r.

Federal Requirements & Guidelines

Recreational operators not operating under the "Special Rule of ​Model Aircraft" are required to register their unmanned aircraft system with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Registration is also required for any unmanned aircraft system weighing .55 pounds to 55 pounds.

Although registration is not required for all recreational users, the FAA has set guidelines for safe and responsible operation:

  • Always fly below an altitude of 400 feet.
  • Always fly within your direct line of sight.
  • Always fly a sufficient distance from populated areas. Do not fly within 5 miles of an airport or near a stadium, prison, public event or directly over people.
  • Do not fly at night.
  • Do not fly an unmanned aircraft system or drone that weighs more than 55 pounds.
  • Take lessons before flying.

More information on recreational usage is available on the FAA's website.

State Requirements & Guidelines

Recreational drone operators do not have to obtain a license or permit from the Division of Aviation.

Although not required, the Division encourages recreational drone users to take the N.C. Department of Transportation's Unmanned Aircraft System Operator's Knowledge Test ​to learn the rules and regulations for operating drones in North Carolina.


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    Register Your Drone With the FAA

    Drones and unmanned aircraft systems weighing between .55 pounds and 55 pounds must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration.

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    'Know Before You Fly'

    The Federal Aviation Administration's "Know Before You Fly" campaign website aimed at educating the public about using drones safely and responsibly.

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    UAS Knowledge Test Study Guide

    A study guide for the N.C. Department of Transportation's UAS knowledge test for commercial and governmental operators.

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    UAS Knowledge Test & Permitting

    Testing required for a permit to ensure that commercial and government operators understand and comply with laws regulating drone usage in North Carolina.


7/21/2020 9:32 AM