Can You Fly a Drone Over a School?

Some time back, I was involved in a drone mapping project in an extensive area. And this area was not empty. It had buildings, roads, and, most importantly, a school we had to fly over. Knowing the various regulations that govern the use of drones in various areas, we had to ask ourselves, “Can you fly a drone over a school?”

Yes, you can fly your drone over a school as long as you don’t become a threat to people, animals, and property. Also, you must follow the drone regulations; for example, don’t fly above a crowd.

The school should also not be within the ‘no-flying zones.’ In addition, don’t record a video or take photos without the administration’s permission.

Please keep reading to learn more about flying drones over schools, the rules that exist, and what to do so you do not get into trouble with the authorities.

Can You Fly a Drone Over a School?

Can You Fly a Drone Over a School

Different regions have varying regulations regarding flying over schools. However, below are some of the rules that are common regardless of where you are:

  • Always fly the drones at safe distances to avoid hurting anyone or property in case the drone crashes. 
  • You should never fly the drone over people who aren’t aware of the drone flying over them unless they have a roof over them or are in stationary cars.
  • If you must fly a drone over a moving car, it should be for a limited time. If it will take longer, inform everyone in the car about a drone flying over them or only fly it within non-restricted areas.

While it’s possible to fly drones over a school and ensure that no one gets hurt or property gets damaged, avoiding this zone is a good idea.

Why Is It a Bad Idea to Fly Drones Over a School?

Regardless of why you want to fly a drone over a school, it may not be a great idea because many activities occur there. Besides, students are always curious, and when they see a drone flying over them, they might want to throw a stone at it, which could cause others to be injured.

Below are some of the risks involved when you fly drones over schools.

Privacy Violation

Some parents want to keep information regarding their children private. Consequently, they wouldn’t want to learn that a drone was caught flying over their children’s school. That would cause a suspension that could lead you into trouble.

Even with the school’s consent, some could still want to know why the drone was flying over their children’s school.

Due to fears associated with drones, you could end up in serious trouble if anything happened to their kids. For example, a child gets kidnapped a few days after flying the drone over the school.

Injury

Flying a drone over a school when the children are out playing, being picked by their parents, or during lunch hour breaks, you risk injuring someone if something goes wrong. Why?

If a drone crashes and a teacher, a student, a staff, or a parent gets injured, you could easily be jailed. Drones malfunction all the time, and there’s no telling what will happen.

One time, we decided to fly the drone from within the school, but the drone took off too fast, and some motors failed, and the drone came crashing down. Luckily, the students were in class at this time.

Imagine what could have happened if we decided to demonstrate to the students. Therefore, since you’re unsure what the next minute holds, you better be safe than sorry by not flying over schools.

If you must fly the drone over a school, it’s best to do so when everyone has gone home. Otherwise, fly the drone around the playing ground when the children are in class.

Can a School Administration Operate a Drone Over Their School?

In cases where the school administration wants to fly a drone during special events such as football competitions and graduations, they must hire a professional and licensed drone pilot to minimize the occurrence of injuries.

Besides that, the drone pilot must follow all the rules of the FAA and the local authorities.

In addition, the school must always seek permission from the local authorities in case commercial elements are involved. In this case, though, students are strictly spectators, not participants.

Therefore, if you want to use a drone within your school for activities such as roof and school farm inspections, recording school events such as graduations, and school security checks, among others, follow the necessary procedures.

Can You Fly a Drone Without a Camera Over a School?

People become over-suspicious and threatened when they see a drone with a camera flying over their heads, and properties and schools are no exception.

Because they may feel that you are invading their privacy or listening to their conversation. What if your drone doesn’t have a camera?

You must still seek permission from the school administration and from the relevant local or federal authority before flying the drone.

Do also check the laws set in place by the local government about flying drones around schools. For example, American states such as Portland prohibit flying drones over schoolyards even if they don’t have cameras.

Florida and Orlando don’t allow flying drones within 500 feet of buildings owned by the city. This includes schools.

On the other hand, California and Calabasas don’t allow flying drones within 200 feet of any school. You can always get a drone flying permit if you want to fly around the schools if you follow the FAA rules.

Following the rules is vital because drones, with or without cameras, can crush and hurt students or damage properties.

Suppose you’re unsure of the areas you should avoid; install the ‘NATS Drone Assist App’ on your smartphone. It will tell you which zones to avoid and notify you of any possible ground hazards that might threaten your security and safety.

In addition, it will notify you of any potential privacy risks involved when you fly the drone over a school and other areas.

Can You Fly a Drone Around a School?

Flying drones around or over a school is only considered sensitive. The same applies to flying drones around power plants, hospitals, and penitentiary systems, among other critical infrastructures.

The best thing to do is to seek permission from the landowner (even if it is the school’s administration). FAA regulations prohibit drones from flying over people’s properties without their consent.

Also, let the people around that area know you plan to fly a drone on a particular day so they won’t think you’re using it for malicious or criminal activities.

FAQs

Can You Fly a Drone Over a School in the UK?

Flying a drone over schools in the UK isn’t safe because these are highly crowded public places. The CAA rules also prohibit flying drones above such zones, as well as airports, stadiums, and churches.

Further, they prohibit using drones over people not directly involved in their operations. However, you could apply for special authorizations depending on the type of drone you are using and the task you want to accomplish, among other factors.

Can You Fly a Drone Over a School in Florida?

You cannot fly a drone within 500 feet of an event, venues, parks, enclosed property owned or operated by the city, outdoor public assembly, and schools (high school, pre-school, middle, or elementary).

So, schools are no-flying zones in Florida unless you have a special permit from the authorities (local authorities and school Administrations).

Parting Shot

Depending on your location, drones can or can’t be used in or around schools. Some schools are using them to record events such as sports. Others use drones for security checks, inspecting hard-to-see areas such as roofs, or even for training in STEM programs.

In areas where drones can be used in or around schools, or if you have a special permit, the safety of the people around the premises should never be compromised. In addition, their privacy should be respected.

The drone pilot should be licensed, which means they have studied and understand the various regulations. If you want to learn how to get the step by step guide on how to get a drone license then make sure to read our full guide by clicking here.

If the drone flying over a school isn’t a school’s property, the drone pilot must seek the administration’s permission before flying it and follow the federal and local government regulations fully.

If flying over a school is strictly prohibited, always respect the regulations and find other ways to accomplish your project. This could be the case if the school is in a no-flying zone.

Author
Peter Karanja

Peter is a licensed drone pilot and drone fanatic. He owns a DJI Air 2S that he uses to shoot videos for fun, enjoyment and for clients.

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