North Carolina Department of Transportation Drone Zone
NC Recreational Operators information and registration
Unmanned aircraft systems, also called drones, have the potential to change the way society approaches agriculture, public safety, construction and many other important industries.
As a leader in drone implementation, one of the N.C. Department of Transportation's primary goals is to ensure that users in North Carolina – whether recreational, commercial or government – are flying the aircraft safely and responsibly.
Although the Federal Aviation Administration has exclusive authority over the use of airspace in the United States – including the airspace used by drones – NCDOT has the authority to implement and manage regulations pertaining to state laws concerning drone operations within the state.
How the law applies to you, depends on how you're using your drone. Click below to learn more.
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 user.
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.