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Kentucky attracts its fair share of visitors for sights such as the Mammoth Cave National Park, Cumberland Fall State Resort Park, Daniel Boone National Forest, and Lost River Cave. You’ve got the itch to explore Kentucky with your drone in tow.
What are the drone laws in this southern state?
Kentucky permits drone use, but all pilots must follow federal and state laws. Drone pilots must not fly their UAVs near airports or risk facing a class A misdemeanor or a class D felony.
As you can see, Kentucky takes its drone laws seriously, which means that you must as well.
This article will be your guide into every Kentucky law that drone pilots must obey. You won’t want to miss it.
Federal drone laws in Kentucky #
The United States government mandates federal drone laws, which apply nationwide. That includes Kentucky as well.
Every type of drone pilot, from hobbyists to government employees, must follow these federal rules.
Recreational Drone Pilots #
Are you familiar with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 rules? As a recreational drone pilot, you must be.
Always follow those rules when piloting your drone for the safety of yourself and others around you.
How much does your drone weigh? If it’s 0.55 pounds or under, then you don’t have to worry about registering it.
That said, for any drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds, you have to contact the FAA to get that drone registered.
The registration fee is only $5 (per drone). Your drone is registered for three years, and then you’ll have to go through the FAA to re-register it if you’re still using that drone.
Kentucky federal drone law also requires hobbyist drone pilots to pass The Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST for short.
TRUST is an FAA-issued online test that quizzes recreational drone pilots on their proficiency in drone laws and usage.
The test is free to take, so it’s different from the Part 107 exam you might have heard of (that’s for commercial drone pilots only; more on that to come).
For any question you answer wrong, you’ll see the correct answer displayed.
You must go back and change your answer before moving on to the next question, earning a perfect score in order to complete the test.
Your TRUST certificate is good for life, but don’t lose it. If you do, then you’ll have to take the TRUST exam again.
Agency drone pilots #
Government employees who use drones, such as firefighters and police officers, are categorized as agency drone pilots.
Agency drone pilots must still follow Part 107 rules for their and everyone else’s safety. In some instances, their job may warrant obtaining an FAA-issued Certificate of Authorization or COA.
The COA acts as a UAV usage waiver.
Commercial drone pilots #
Commercial drone pilots must also follow Kentucky federal drone laws.
As has been the case with the other two groups of drone pilots, as a commercial pilot, you must always fly according to Part 107 rules.
You’ll also be required to pass the Part 107 exam, which is issued through the FAA.
» MORE: FAA Part 107 for Commercial Drone Pilots
The Part 107 exam is a two-hour, 60-question test that will plumb the depths of your knowledge about Part 107 drone laws.
You’ll have to find an approved testing center near you, pay the registration fee, and set up a date and time to take the test.
Unlike the TRUST exam, incorrect answers are not displayed to you at the time you complete the exam.
You also cannot go back and correct your answers once you select them, so be sure about what you’re choosing.
If you want to boost your chances of passing the Part 107 exam the first time around, check out our training page. You can easily find an online drone school with Part 107 exam prep!
» MORE: Best Drone Courses Taught by Experts
You need a score of at least 70 percent to earn a passing grade. Then you’re issued your Remote Pilot Certificate or Part 107 license.
The license is good for the next two years from the date it’s issued.
To ensure you’re current on your FAA drone laws, you’ll be required to take the Part 107 exam again to keep your commercial license current.
You also have to register your drone with the FAA, as many drones as you’re using. It still costs $5 per drone, and registration is still good for three years.
State drone laws in Kentucky #
Now let’s take a look at the state laws applicable across Kentucky, of which there is only one.
HB 540 // 2017 #
The law is known as HB 540 and was passed in 2017 to expand KRS Chapter 183.
The law allows commercial airports throughout Kentucky to create unmanned aircraft facility maps dictating where drone pilots can and cannot fly their drones.
Drones are not allowed “into areas prohibited for the operation, taking off, and landing of an unmanned aircraft as designated by a commercial pilot’s unmanned aircraft facility map, except with the approval of the commercial airport operator.”
Further, drone pilots cannot use their UAVs “In a reckless manner so as to create a risk of serious physical injury to another or a risk of damage to property.”
Failing to follow HB 540 laws can result in a class A misdemeanor, as we mentioned in the intro, or possibly a class D felony if the crime is deemed severe (such as affecting safe airline travel).
In Kentucky, a class A misdemeanor is considered a serious criminal charge and is punished appropriately. You could be fined $500 and face a jail sentence of at least a year. You could also be both fined and put in jail.
Class D felonies are even more serious charges with jailtime sentences of at least a year but possibly up to five years.
Does Kentucky have any local drone laws? #
Most states with enforceable drone laws have federal, state, and local laws. Occasionally, you’ll come across some states that don’t have local drone laws. Kentucky is one of them.
This simply means that no cities, towns, villages, or counties throughout Kentucky have created any ordinances specific to the usage of drones.
It does not mean that federal and state drone laws do not apply, as they absolutely do.
Kentucky still requires all drone pilots to follow FAA Part 107 rules as well, so make sure you’re doing that each time you fly your drone.
Kentucky drone law FAQs #
Have Kentucky’s sparse drone laws left you in need of some more information? This section should be quite helpful.
Can you fly a drone in a public park in Kentucky? #
Kentucky is a great state to live in or visit if you enjoy public parks.
The state is dotted with ‘em, including Sand Gap Public Park in McKee, Russell Springs City Park in Russell Springs, Central City Park in Central City, and Mount Tabor Park in Lexington.
No drone laws that we found said anything pertaining to flying drones in public parks.
Federal drone laws don’t delve into public park drone usage specifically, and Kentucky’s state law, HB 540, didn’t mention it either.
With no local drone laws in Kentucky either, you should be safe to fly your UAV in a public park here.
However, it’s never a bad idea to contact the local parks and rec association to ask about its drone flight policy before you arrive.
As always, please follow Part 107 rules as well.
Can you fly a drone in a state park in Kentucky? #
State parks are any state’s crown jewel, and that’s true for Kentucky as well.
The gorgeous state parks throughout Kentucky feature breathtaking waterfalls, miles of stunning greenery, and peaceful, tranquil nature.
The Kentucky State Parks website details the rules for using a drone in a Kentucky state park.
According to the website, you have to apply for a permit to even fly a drone in state parks. That permit is available here.
There’s also a special photography permit here for commercial drone pilots.
You’d have to complete the permit application form and send it to the park manager at the state park you’re interested in using your drone.
The website does note that not all Kentucky state parks are under their jurisdiction. Some are managed by the U.S. Army Corps of engineers.
If so, and if you want to fly there, “the corps must approve drone use and that process is separate from the state park permit process.”
Kentucky might not have many drone laws, but we can’t underscore enough just how important it is to follow every law to the letter.
You don’t want a class A misdemeanor floating around on your record, nor do you want a class D felony.
Stay on the right side of the law and as always, follow Part 107 rules!