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Drone Laws in Hawaii

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Hawaii is a vacation destination for pretty much everyone. More than just visiting with your friends or family, you’ve always longed to bring your drone with you on your adventures.

Does Hawaii allow drones? If so, where can you fly and where can’t you?

Hawaii welcomes drone pilots but actively enforces laws on a federal, local, and state basis. There aren’t too many laws, but they encompass the entirety of Hawaii’s state parks, as drones are banned there.

Before you go to the trouble of packing up your UAV, you want to be sure that you have the drone laws in Hawaii down pat.

This article will be your guide to the laws as they apply federally, locally, and throughout the state.

Let’s begin!

Federal Drone Laws in Hawaii #

Hawaii and the other states that comprise the United States are subject to governmentally-mandated federal drone laws.

These laws apply to drone pilots of all nature, including government employees, hobbyists, and commercial drone pilots.

Here’s what you need to know.

Agency Drone Pilots #

The first group, agency drone pilots, includes the aforementioned government employees in Hawaii, such as the fire department and police department. In these roles, you’re sometimes required to use drones.

You might have to possess a Certificate of Authorization through the Federal Aviation Administration. The COA acts as a waiver permitting drone activity that would otherwise be off-limits.

Additionally, as an agency drone pilot, you’re also required to abide by the FAA’s Part 107 rules or Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems regulations.

These rules are for the safety of drone pilots, surrounding aircraft, people, and infrastructure.

Commercial Drone Pilots #

Non-governmental drone pilots who make money using their drones are categorized as commercial drone pilots. Hawaii’s federal drone laws apply to you as well.

As was the case for agency drone pilots, a commercial drone pilot must always follow FAA Part 107 rules.

As part of those rules, before you can begin using your drone in a money-making capacity, you’re required to earn a drone license or certificate, which is known as the Part 107 license.

» MORE: FAA Part 107 for Commercial Drone Pilots

Doing so means passing the Unmanned Aircraft General – Small (UAG) or Part 107 exam. The Part 107 exam delves into all the subject matter that the FAA presents in its Part 107 rules.

The FAA wants commercial drone pilots to master these rules so they can be safe in the skies.

The test must be taken at an approved testing center. When you register to take the exam, you have to pay a fee; that applies to any subsequent attempt as well.

Many online drone schools offer Part 107 exam prep; we’ve reviewed all the top schools on the blog, so definitely check that out.

» MORE: Top 10 Best Part 107 Online Test Prep Courses

You must earn a score of at least 70 percent to have passed the Part 107 exam. Then you can apply for your license, which will be mailed out to you in the weeks to come.

Keep your license on you whenever you fly your drone.

Your Part 107 license will expire two years from the date it was issued to you. You will then have to take the FAA Part 107 exam again to keep your knowledge current.

Recreational Drone Pilots #

The third group of drone pilots subject to Hawaii federal drone law is recreational pilots.

Even if you only use your drone for fun, you’re expected to stay current on FAA rules and must always abide by those rules.

You’ll also have to pay $5 to register your drone with the FAA if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds.

You don’t have to worry about a Part 107 license as a recreational drone pilot, but you do have to take a test.

The test for hobbyists is The Recreational UAS Safety Test. You don’t have to pay to take the FAA’s TRUST exam; thankfully, you can do it online. Even better is you don’t have to panic much about your score.

» MORE: What Is the TRUST Test?

All incorrect answers are displayed as you take the test and are correctable. Upon completing the test, you’ll receive your TRUST certificate. The certificate is good for life.

State Drone Laws in Hawaii #

Next, let’s talk about the drone laws in Hawaii that apply throughout the entire state. There’s only one of these, and it’s called SB 661.

SB 661 // 2015 #

Passed in 2015, SB 661 pertains to increasing the rate of drone usage in national air space in Hawaii. As part of the law, a chief operating officer is established to work at a drone test site.

Further, SB 661 creates a site advisory board for funding the test site as well as managing its development.

The SB 661 law also cements what Hawaii federal law does: all commercial drone pilots in the state must follow Part 107 rules.

Otherwise, SB 661 largely does not apply to the everyday drone pilot in Hawaii.

Local Drone Laws in Hawaii #

That brings us to Hawaii’s local laws, which apply to counties, cities, towns, or regions.

Once again, there’s only one rule here as created by the Division of State Parks and the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Let’s take a look at what the law entails.

Department of Land and Natural Resources // Division of State Parks #

According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Division of State Parks, drones are not allowed.

The law in full reads, “The use, launching or landing of drones and other types of aircraft is prohibited.”

That applies to drone use in all state parks throughout Hawaii.

The reason that drones are banned is likely to protect archaeological, historical, and geological features in Hawaii’s many state parks as well as to safeguard wildlife and their habitats.

Regardless, the rules make it very clear-cut that you should not operate your drone anywhere near a state park.

Hawaii Drone Law FAQs #

To wrap up, we’ve put together this handy FAQs section that will cement the drone usage rules in Hawaii for you.

Can You Fly a Drone in a Public Park in Hawaii? #

A public park in Hawaii is not merely a stretch of grass with a few slides, swing sets, and grilling equipment. You might be able to explore coconut groves, black lava sand, tidal caves, or forests with beach coves in a public park as well.

It’s super tempting to want to fly a drone in a public park in Hawaii, given the wealth of natural sights and wonders. Can you?

We couldn’t find any law that said otherwise. That said, you do want to be doubly sure that the park is a public park and not a state park.

It’s also not a bad idea to check in with the local parks and rec association and ask if drones are allowed.

As we said, no Hawaii drone laws seem to prohibit UAV usage in public parks as a whole, so you should be in the clear. Having the official word from a parks and rec association will just confirm that and give you peace of mind.

Even if you can fly your drone throughout Hawaii’s many public parks, you should always follow Part 107 rules.

Be sure to have your drone license on your person if you’re a commercial drone pilot.

Can You Fly a Drone in a State Park in Hawaii? #

The breathtaking views of Hawaii’s state parks make them some of the most sought-after places in the world.

Ka’ena Point State Park has great surfing spots and a lava shoreline, La’ie Point State Wayside features oceanic views, and Wailuku River State Park offers gorgeous waterfalls, including one with an 80-foot drop.

However, you will have to leave the drone at home if you want to visit these and other state parks throughout Hawaii.

As you’ll recall from above, the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Division of State Parks banned drone use in Hawaii State Parks, with no exceptions.

Conclusion #

Hawaii is one of the most scenic and beloved states in the country. Naturally, drone enthusiasts will want to gather there in droves to capture Hawaii’s beautiful landscapes on their UAV cameras.

For the most part, this is allowed, except in state parks.

With the rules so lax otherwise, set a good example for your fellow drone pilot by always following Part 107 rules. It will make a difference!

References:Certificate of Authorization (link)FAA’s Part 107 rules (link)The Recreational UAS Safety Test (link)SB 661 (link)Division of State Parks | Hawaiʻi State Park Rules (link)


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