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Can You Fly a Drone in Seattle?

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In the Pacific Northwest on the Puget Sound is Seattle.

The city that gave us grunge and Microsoft is a famous place to visit today for sites like the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Great Wheel, Pike Place Market, and the Space Needle.

Can you fly a drone in Seattle?

Drones are allowed in Seattle but must follow all FAA regulations. Some excellent spots in Seattle to take your drone for a spin include the Marlow Andersen RC Field and 60 Acres Park.

In today’s article, we’ll break down all the drone rules in Seattle and further recommend some awesome places to use your drone in this city.

Let’s begin!

Can you fly a drone in Seattle? #

Although the weather isn’t always the warmest or sunniest (the city is known for its rain), Seattle is still a very popular city that welcomes large numbers of tourists each year.

Part of the attraction is drone flight. The FAA allows drones to operate in Seattle and greater Washington subject to the rules and regulations we’ll discuss later in this article. Make sure you check those out.

According to the Seattle government website, if operating your drone commercially and using it for filming and/or photography, you may in some cases require a City of Seattle Master Film Permit.

The city requires the permit if you launch or land your drone on city property such as a park, building, sidewalk, or street.

If your flight requires you to temporarily control of city property, including pedestrian traffic or a holding vehicle, you also need a permit.

If you’re operating your drone on private property or flying over waterways, you can forego the City of Seattle Master Film Permit.

That’s also true if you’re using your drone for a commercial construction or real estate project and only photographing aerially.

To apply for your City of Seattle Master Film Permit, create a username and password with the Seattle government Film Permit Application Portal, completing all information-gathering modules (there are six).

When you do that, you’ll receive a confirmation email letting you know your request was received.

In addition to your application, you need $2 million in drone aviation liability coverage, including a certificate of insurance and an insured policy endorsement CG 20 26 or CG 20 12.

You must also include a copy of your drone registration and a copy of your Remote Pilot Certificate.

Further, you must have a site plan that details your flight path, where you’ll take off, where you’ll land, and ground control, traffic, and pedestrian areas.

The city government says it takes them 10 days to process drone requests, so make sure you apply with enough time if you have a tight itinerary.

You will pay $25 for a film permit for each day of use. You are allowed to head to different locations on the same day under one permit and you won’t pay an additional fee.

If you need to reserve parking for your drone project, you’ll spend $15 per day per metered space.

You might also have to pay extra if you need staffing from the Parks Department or Seattle Police Department.

The 5 best places to fly a drone in Seattle #

Are you ready to take your drone out for a fun flight in Seattle? Here are five places you should certainly explore during your time here!

1. Marlow Anderson RC Field #

The Marlow Anderson RC Field is managed by the Lake Sawyer Hawks. No matter how much (or little) drone experience you have and  your age, you’re allowed to join in, so the RC field is very inclusive.

As a member of the club, you gain access to flight instructions, demonstrations, and even model exhibitions, not to mention a chance to feel like a part of Seattle’s bustling community.

2. 60 Acres Park #

In King County is 60 Acres Park, a sizable recreational area and park with restrooms, a covered picnic space, and over 20 fields.

The park is split into two areas, 60 Acres South and 60 Acres North, and you can use both.

Between the two, 60 Acres South has more drone activity, so you should plan to start your day there when visiting the park.

Crowds can gather here in droves, especially when there’s soccer or another sports game going on, so make sure you plan your drone use accordingly.

3. Marymoor RC Airfield #

Plan to spend a day in nearby Redmond at the Marymoor RC Airfield managed by the Marymoor Radio Control Club. You will be required to join said club before you can use the airfield.

However, the Marymoor Radio Control Club is part of the Academy of Model Aeronautics.

Membership also grants you access to club-only events and activities, pilot instruction training, informative programs, regular members-only meetings, and club picnics and cookouts.

4. Shoreview Park #

The eponymous Shoreline Park is a sunny greenspace with unpaved trails, tennis and soccer fields, a playground, picnic areas, pickleball courts, open spaces, natural areas, and softball and baseball fields.

This park is worth visiting for Seattle’s waterfront views, including a hidden lake that should have fewer crowds than the other areas.

5. Luther Burbank Park #

Luther Burbank Park is another spot to add to your list when exploring Seattle with your drone. This 73-acre park on Mercer Island showcases the beauty of Lake Washington.

You’ll see anglers, boaters, and swimmers out in the lake when the weather warms up.

The park is also beloved for its wildlife, including 50 rabbit, tree frog, muskrat, beaver, raccoon, and waterfowl species and 135 bird species.

You’ll find the creatures predominantly on the park’s south and north ends in the wetland regions.

Luther Burbank Park also has walking trails, an amphitheater (don’t operate near there with your drone), a swimming beach, a public fishing pier, a public boat dock, three tennis courts, and group picnic areas.

Washington state drone laws to remember before flying a drone in Seattle #

Before you take your drone to one of the above fantastic areas to fly, brush up on these FAA and state drone laws.

You must have a drone license and registration #

The FAA requires all drone pilots to have a license no matter how they use their drones. You also must have a license if you need a permit, as you’re required to provide a copy of your license.

Commercial pilots need the Remote Pilot Certificate. Once you turn 16 years old, you can apply for your license, but you’ll have to take the FAA’s Part 107 exam first.

This 60-question, multiple-choice exam isn’t easy to pass, so make sure you use our blog resources to help you study.

Once the FAA issues you the Remote Pilot Certificate, it’s valid for two years. You can now recertify the license by taking a free online exam.

Hobbyists need the TRUST license. The FAA has its own exam for hobbyists called The Recreational UAS Safety Test.

You can’t fail this exam, as the test shows you your incorrect answers before you submit it, and you can change any answers you want.

You shouldn’t need to retake the TRUST exam unless you lose your license. Otherwise, it’s good for life.

Commercial pilots must always register their drones, but hobbyists don’t have to unless their UAV weighs more than 0.55 pounds.

» MORE: What is the TRUST Test? (Everything You Need to Know)

No drones in state parks #

According to Washington state law WAC 352-32-130, “No aircraft shall land on or take off from any body of water or land area in a state park not specifically designated for landing aircraft.”

While agency drone pilots can freely use state park land, commercial and recreational pilots cannot without written permission from a director or designee.

No drones in Seattle parks #

None of the parks in the last section were in Seattle proper is because the city’s municipal law bans drones in parks.

Here’s what the law says:

“City law prohibits drones and other remote-controlled aircraft in parks. Drones have injured people by crashing into them and alarmed people by nearly crashing into them. Drones have annoyed people with their noise, and people have expressed privacy concerns about drone use. Drones have also harmed wildlife, in at least one instance causing an osprey to abandon the eggs in its nest.”

Seattle has some staunch views on drone usage, that’s for certain!

Seattle, Washington is a popular city on the Puget Sound. If you want to see the Space Needle and the Seattle Great Wheel with your drone in tow, the good news is you can.

While Seattle outlaws drones in all the standard places such as airports and military bases, and while you can’t fly in Seattle’s parks or any of Washington’s state parks, the area has a lot of great places for drones, including several RC clubs.

Remember to follow FAA rules when flying and you’ll have a great trip!


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