Model aircraft operations are for hobby or recreational purposes only.
The FAA has partnered with several industry associations to promote Know Before You Fly, a campaign to educate the public about using unmanned aircraft safely and responsibly. Individuals flying for hobby or recreation are strongly encouraged to follow safety guidelines, which include:
- Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
- Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times
- Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
- Don't fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
- Don't fly near people or stadiums
- Don't fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs
- Don't be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft
The statutory parameters of a model aircraft operation are outlined in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95 (the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012) (PDF). Individuals who fly within the scope of these parameters do not require permission to operate their UAS; any flight outside these parameters (including any non-hobby, non-recreational operation) requires FAA authorization. For example, using a UAS to take photos for your personal use is recreational; using the same device to take photographs or videos for compensation or sale to another individual would be considered a non-recreational operation.
- More about the Know Before You Fly campaign
- Read the FAA's Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (PDF)
- Read the Do's and Don'ts of Model Aircraft Operations
- View FAA YouTube videos on safe model aircraft operations.
- The "Model Aircraft Do's and Don'ts" (PDF)
- Read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Use of Model Aircraft near an Airport
- Must register