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Can You Fly a Drone in Uptown Charlotte?

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Uptown Charlotte or Center City is Charlotte’s central business district that’s divided into four separate wards. This bustling cityscape with a beautiful skyline might have caught your fancy.

You’d love to fly your drone around here and capture some awesome aerial footage, but can you?

Uptown Charlotte has no rules prohibiting drone flight as of this writing. Considering the area is a crowded cityscape and business district that’s frequently the site of events, you’ll certainly want to limit where you fly to avoid becoming a public nuisance with your drone.

Ahead, we’ll talk further about what’s allowed versus what isn’t when operating a drone in Uptown Charlotte.

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city because you’re feeling too constricted, we’ll also suggest some places in larger Charlotte for drone flights, so keep reading!

Can you fly a drone in Uptown Charlotte? #

Uptown Charlotte is a central North Carolina hub that, in 2019, attracted 29.6 million people, says the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

Charlotte itself does not have any local drone laws, as we talked about in our post on North Carolina drone laws. That’s the case for Uptown Charlotte as well.

» MORE: Drone Laws in North Carolina

This may surprise you considering that Charlotte is such a populous and beloved North Carolina city, but don’t be mistaken. The absence of local drone laws doesn’t mean that Charlotte and Uptown Charlotte are lawless.

You’re still required to follow all North Carolina state drone laws as well as federal laws when operating a drone.

Drone laws to know when flying a drone in Uptown Charlotte #

Without further ado, let’s dive into the laws that you should always obey when flying your drone around Uptown Charlotte.

You must have a current drone license on your person #

Federal drone law in the United States mandates that all commercial and recreational drone pilots have a license or certificate ascertaining them as such.

Let’s start with the requirements for commercial pilots. Under Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, aspiring commercial pilots have to pass the Part 107 exam to earn their Remote Pilot Certificate.

The Part 107 exam is a 60-question, in-person exam taken at an FAA testing center. The questions on the exam are all multiple-choice, and you’re given over two hours to answer them all.

You’ll have to score at least 70 percent to receive your Remote Pilot Certificate.

Make sure you keep the certificate current, as it expires two years after it was issued to you. You can take an online renewal exam that’s short and free so you can easily recertify.

Switching gears, recreational pilots need a TRUST certificate. This is obtainable by registering for The Recreational UAS Safety Test through the FAA.

The TRUST exam is a much shorter exam. It too is online and free to take. You can go back and correct any wrong answers as you take the exam, which is handy.

Your TRUST certificate is good for life!

You must have a North Carolina state permit to fly #

It’s not enough to have your appropriate drone license if you want to fly in Uptown Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina.

According to North Carolina state drone law SB 744, drone pilots also need a permit.

Commercial pilots have to take a UAS Knowledge Test administered by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, but recreational pilots do not.

After passing the NCDOT’s test, you can register for a permit through the North Carolina Division of Aviation.

Hobbyists need a permit too even if they can skip the UAS Knowledge Test.

You must register a drone if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds as a recreational pilot #

Speaking of hobbyists, make sure you weigh your drone before packing your bags for Uptown Charlotte.

The FAA requires you to register your drone if it meets a certain weight threshold.

Toy drones that weigh under 0.55 pounds do not require registration, but any drone that clocks in at 0.55 pounds or over does need to be registered.

Commercial drone pilots must register their drones #

As a commercial drone pilot, you too must always register your drone with the FAA before taking to the skies.

The FAA’s drone registration lasts for three years and it only costs $5 for recreational and commercial pilots.

You cannot use your drone in state parks #

In 2018, the NC Division of Parks & Recreation passed the NCAC 13.B 1204 law, which includes this drone policy:

“Park visitors are prohibited from ascending or taking off within or upon any state park or state park water surface, of any airplane, flying machine (including drones, unmanned aircrafts, and quadcopters), balloon, parachute, glider, hang glider…or other apparatus for aviation.”
Parks & Recreation

You cannot fly closer than 500 feet to a correctional facility #

The 2017 North Carolina state drone law HB 128 makes it illegal to operate your drone near state or federal correctional facilities and local confinement facilities.

Your required distance is no closer than 250 vertical feet and 500 horizontal feet.

You cannot fly your drone over a sporting event or stadium #

Teams such as the Charlotte Independence, the Charlotte Knights, the Charlotte FC, the Charlotte Hornets, and the Carolina Panthers all play in sports venues and arenas throughout Uptown Charlotte.

Those venues include the Spectrum Center, Charlotte Coliseum, Bank of America Stadium, Bojangles Coliseum, and others.

These events attract massive crowds of thousands and thousands of people. You cannot fly your drone anywhere near the arena or stadium in which sporting events are being held.

Keep your drone away from airports and restricted airspace #

Your drone is also barred from restricted airspace throughout North Carolina.

Charlotte features several airports such as the Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Charlotte Airport.

Unless you have the proper authorization, then you should not operate your drone in either location.  

You cannot fly over crowds of people #

Uptown Charlotte is home to art museums and galleries, nightlife, fine dining, salons and spas, sporting events, and shopping. You’ll also recall that it’s a very popular business district.

You have to expect large crowds almost everywhere you go. Take heed not to fly over crowds when operating a drone in Uptown Charlotte.

Your drone must not exceed 400 feet in altitude #

In North Carolina, your drone must fly at an altitude no greater than 400 feet.

Your drone must be in your visual line of sight #

You also have to keep your UAV within your visual line of sight, which is how far you can see the drone either through your naked eye or when wearing glasses or contacts.

3 places in Charlotte to fly a drone #

You’ve captured some truly incredible skyline views of Uptown Charlotte, and now you’d like to move on. Try any of these parks outside of the uptown area but within Charlotte for serenity, peace, and fewer crowds.

1. Reedy Creek Park #

On Rocky River Road, Reedy Creek Park is categorized as Class G uncontrolled airspace. The park spans over 145 acres and isn’t too far from Downtown Charlotte if you want to go there next.

The Reedy Creek Nature Preserve is closer to Reedy Creek Park. The nature preserve is 927 acres and packed to the gills with forests, hiking trails, lakes and streams for fishing, and lots of wildlife.

If operating your drone within the nature preserve’s boundaries, steer clear of wildlife.

2. David B. Waymer Aeromodeler Flying Field #

Also for your consideration is the David B. Waymer Aeromodeler Flying Field. This field in nearby Huntersville on Holbrooks Road is more Class G uncontrolled airspace.

The Waymer Aeromodeler Chapter manages this stretch of the park and allows RC aircraft of all kinds, so be aware that you might share the sky with more than just drones.

The runway for launching is quite a sizable 400 feet, and the flying field is more than spacious enough for everyone who’s interested in flying to have the room to do so.

Trees that surround the confines of the flying field add to its ambiance.

3. Marshall Park #

You should also explore Charlotte’s Marshall Park on East 3rd Street. The park is close to Charlotte’s bustling downtown but far enough away that you feel secluded.  

The park spans nearly six acres, so it’s quite cozy. Be sure to get there early if you want to fly your drone, as the park will only attract more pilots, tourists, and residents as the day goes on.

Within Marshall Park are a Holocaust memorial monument, a Martin Luther King, Jr. statue, an amphitheater, a lake, and a large fountain.

You can capture some excellent footage of Charlotte’s skyline here!

Conclusion #

Drones are allowed in Uptown Charlotte, but you must follow North Carolina’s state drone laws as well as federal laws before you take to the skies.

Remember to always be courteous and keep your distance from crowds and large sporting events. Follow other FAA guidelines as well. Happy flying!

References:CRVA (link)


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