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Best Places to Fly a Drone in Pittsburgh  

6 mins
Drone Blog
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The Federal Aviation Administration stipulates the rules of operating drones within the US, with Pittsburgh operators required to abide by these regulations.

Like other states, some areas fall under the uncontrolled zone, with others being in the restricted category. These zones often list the conditions of operation and certifications required for flying a drone.

So, which are some best spots to fly your drone and what are some laws to keep in mind?

FAA drone laws #

Drone laws will often be classified into two categories; recreational use and commercial use, with the following defining these policies:

FAA USC 44809 rule for recreational flyers #

  • Follow the outlined guidelines of your FAA-recognized community-based organization.
  • Fly at or below 400 feet.
  • Fly only for recreational purposes.
  • Utilize a visual observer who should be physically present or directly communicate with you. Alternatively, ensure that your drone is within your visual line of sight.
  • Pass the TRUST test (The Recreational UAS Safety Test).[1]
  • Carry your proof of test passage when flying your drone.
  • Keep away from manned aircraft and give way as required.
  • Obtain approval through the FAADroneZone Site or the LAANC system if flying in controlled airspaces. These include classes B,C, D and E.
  • Do not fly your drone in a dangerous manner.
  • Do not fly close to emergency response activities like rescue missions unless authorized.
  • Avoid flying your drone over vehicles, crowded areas and people.
  • Do not fly close to prisons, airports and restricted areas such as police stations.
  • If your drone weighs more than 0.55 lbs, you will be required to pay an additional $5 fee for registration.
  • Stay away from practices considered as grading. These include using unmanned aircraft unlawfully, with such an offense attracting fines based on FAA rules.

FAA Part 107 rule for commercial flyers #

  • Pass Aeronautical Knowledge Test by the FAA. This comes with an FAA-certified drone pilot certification.

  • Carry your proof of test passage when operating your drone.

  • Have a proper understanding of the part 107 rules[2] establishing in-depth regulations for using small drones listed under the 55 lbs mark.

  • You can operate a drone if you are a government employee working on behalf of the fire department or the police. You will need to obtain a Federal Certificate of Authorization for use.

  • Complete FAA Form 8710-13.

After you have established the above, the FAA also requires all drone operators to register their drones at the FAA Drone Zone.

You will also be required to abide by the marking requirements on the outside with the correct registration number. This guarantees you a valid registration number for three years.

Pennsylvania state drone laws #

Apart from the FAA’s nationwide rules, individual states will also have different laws.

Some of Pennsylvania’s include:

State park exemptions #

According to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, drone use is prohibited in state parks for recreational users. However, this rule has an exemption, with drone operators permitted to state parks such as Lackawanna State Park, Beltzville State Park, Hillman State Park, and Benjamin Rush State Park. Others on this list include Tuscarora State Park and Prompton State Park.

Even with this exemption, drone operators are advised to give prior notice of their operations for the necessary arrangements. This will help you to familiarize yourself with the updated rules and regulations before flying your drone.

Title 18 Sec 3505 #

According to Title 18 Sec 3505, drone operators are prohibited from intentionally flying drones for surveillance of another person in a private place.

Drone use is also unlawful if operated in a manner that causes fear of bodily injuries. Lastly, this rule also prohibits using drones in activities such as the delivery, transmission, and furnishing of contraband.

Title 53 Sec 3505 #

According to Title 18 Sec 3505, the provisions of this title shall prevail over municipality rules and any other resolution regarding the ownership operation of unmanned aircraft.

Additionally, municipalities shall not restrict the operation or ownership of unmanned craft. This is unless it is by Pennsylvania state statutes.

1. South Shore Riverfront Park #

Address: Pittsburgh, PA 15203Website: Map: Aloft

The South Shore Riverfront Park can be found on the shores of the Monongahela, near Birmingham Bridge. It is one of Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Heritage Trail System.

Visitors can enjoy the boat rides, picnic areas, and take a walk within the park.

Drone operators are free to capture the Birmingham Bridge, the Pittsburgh skyline, and the breathtaking river scenery.

2. Point of View Park #

Address: 1435 Grandview Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15211Website: TripAdvisorAirspace Map: Aloft

Point of View Park is a spectacular park in the Mt. Washington area. This park is named after the Point of View sculpture, an important landmark for visitors and residents.

The bronze statue captures the monumental talk between George Washington and Guyasut, then leader of the Seneca people, discussing the land’s development along the Ohio river.

Due to its strategic location, drone operators get incredible views of downtown Pittsburgh, an area bustling with immense activity throughout the day and night.

In addition to this, drone users are also treated to the unique views of the twisting Ohio river and the numerous bridges close by.

3. Boyce Mayview Park #

Address: 1551 Mayview Rd, Upper St Clair, PA 15241Website: Walking trails mapAirspace Map: Aloft

The Boyce Mayview Park is home to diverse activities, making it the perfect spot to capture various events.

Located in upper St. Clair, visitors can enjoy some walking trails on the park’s southern side, with some areas reserved for various events and ball fields.

This part of the park also hosts a vegetable garden, making it perfect for plant lovers.

If you prefer un-crowded spaces, the woodlands will come in handy, providing open space for drone footage.

Take note that drones may be restricted in the northern part of the center.

4. Lake Elizabeth #

Address: Lake Elizabeth, Pittsburgh, PA 15212Website: Lake ElizabethAirspace Map: Aloft

Located in West Park, Lake Elizabeth is a small recreational center with remarkable landscapes. It is home to an artificial lake, making it perfect for waterfront shots on your drone.

This spot also features beautiful pedestrian bridges, with green and well-kept lawns to match the area’s serenity.

The backdrop also provides unique shots of the city’s skyline, with occasional passing trains.

5. Millvale Riverfront Park #

Address: 70 River Front Dr, Pittsburgh, PA 15209Website: Riverfront Park | Millvale, PAAirspace Map: Aloft

The Millvale Riverfront Park is one of a kind, with the park meandering along River Allegheny. It features a 1.7-mile trail that allows visitors to take in the area’s surroundings.

Drone users will especially be thrilled by the nearby Herrs island and Washington Crossing Bridge.

To get the perfect shot, consider launching at the green strip, as this will likely give you a strategic location to view the named spots.

6. Aspinwall Riverfront Park #

Address: 285 River Ave, Aspinwall, PA 15215Website: Aspinwall Riverfront ParkAirspace Map: Aloft

The Aspinwall Riverfront Park sits along the banks of the Allegheny river, a short distance from Pittsburgh’s city center.

Outdoor enthusiasts will love this recreation center, with the park being the perfect spot for sledding during the cold months and kayaking in the warmer weather.

The highland park lock and dam is located just a mile away, making it the perfect location for filming the scenic aerial views.

The industrial railway bridge will be your ideal spot if you are looking for a contrast to your everyday park visuals.

References:1. The Recreational UAS Safety Test (link)2. Federal Aviation Administration (link)


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