There are two types of drone pilots, those who do it for fun and those that do it for business. If you are operating a drone for a blog /vlog or to sell pictures you are considered a commercial pilot and must register your drone. If you are doing it for your own enjoyment then you are considered a hobbyist and do not need to register yourself or the drone.
Lets get the easy things out of the DO NOT FLY your drones around an airport or hospital!! Drones can cause considerable damage to planes and helicopters in which you would be responsible for damage or loss of life. Also Do not fly them in or around forest fires or any event that has an aerial aspect to it. In some cases its considered a felony to be flying a drone in those areas.
National Parks Service – PROHIBITED
Penalties could be as high as six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
State Parks – IT DEPENDS
Rules about flying drones in state parks vary by location. Check with the rangers before you fly.
National Forests – YES, MOST OF THE TIME
You can fly a drone in National Forests for the most part, as long as you do it responsibly and within FAA guidelines. Localized exceptions may be in place; check with your local rangers before flying. Commercial pilots must have a permit.
Wilderness Areas – PROHIBITED
Congressionally-designated wilderness areas prohibit motorized vehicles. Unfortunately drones are considered “motorized vehicles”.
This is a point of contention for many drone pilots. The Wilderness Act, written in 1964, was intended to set aside certain areas of land and leave them in their most natural state. Rangers can’t even bring in chainsaws for trail clearing because they have motors.
BLM Land – YES, MOST OF THE TIME
If you can shoot big guns and camp anywhere without a permit, you can fly a drone within the FAA rules. Except in special areas such as archaeological sites. Please fly responsibly and have fun.
Recreation Areas – DEPENDS
Please see the “National Park Service” and “State Parks” paragraphs for information on either National or State Recreation Areas.
Private Land – CAREFUL!
Flying a drone over private land is another touchy subject. If you’re out in the middle of nowhere and it’s beautiful and you just need to get that aerial, please stay away from private property. You run the risk of it getting shot down by some homesteader with a shotgun in some remote areas. You’ll be responsible for increased legislation regulating drones, or further prohibiting their use, for each complaint received.
Drones while Jeeping: The #1 rule when operating a drone is to never have it out of your sight as you will have no clue where it really is going or its surroundings. Also drones at the moment do not have the awareness to know what is around them at all times, so if your drone is following your jeep into the woods there is a good chance it will hit some trees and crash. Most the drones these days do have a distance limiter that will indicate how far the drone is from its operator and will try and stay in that range of operation. Flying a drone over a cliff/water is totally doable but be aware of your surroundings, if the drone were to malfunction and fall out of the sky it will plummet to its death. If this happens over water you might as well throw the controller in after it. If this happens over a cliff you need to be aware if anyone is below as being struck by a falling drone can cause serious injury or death.
Finally WILDLIFE: Be very considerate of wildlife and this pertains to domesticated animals too such as horses, cows, ect. Drones can spook animals because they have no clue what it is and can send them running. Drones can also have a negative impact of wildlife behavior as far as places where it feeds or sleeps or migrates.
If you’re unsure where to operate a drone always call an authority figure just to be safe. Having a drone is fun but not at the risk of being put in jail or $$$.