How High Can I Fly?

How High Can I Fly in Controlled Airspace?

This might shock you but the maximum altitude a drone is allowed to fly, anywhere in the United States, is 400 feet above ground! That’s it. If I go higher than that, I am breaking Federal Law! We are only allowed to fly our drones to an altitude of 400 feet! But… as always, there are exemptions.

For example, the FAA says: “The maximum allowable altitude is 400 feet above the ground, and higher if your drone remains within 400 feet of a structure.”

To understand this, let’s do a “What if” scenario. Let’s say we want to film a video of downtown Freeland. As you know, right behind Taco Bell is a cell tower that is 200 feet tall. This means we can legally fly our drone at 600 feet… as long as we are flying within the 400 feet radius of that tower.

If we go out in the thumb of Michigan, we can find towers which scrape the sky at 1000 feet! That means that if I am flying anywhere in the radius of 400 feet from that tower, I could technically go up to 1400 feet! That’s crazy!

Now, there’s just one problem with everything I just told you about flying in Freeland. Freeland is in the Class D Airspace of the MBS International Airport! If we want to fly in Freeland, We MUST get prior permission from the FAA before I even launch my drone! This is huge for me personally because I live in this Class D Airspace! I can’t even fly my drone in my driveway unless I get FAA authorization. The FAA controls ALL airspace in the United States. “ALL” means from the ground up; even in my back yard! If I want to fly in the federal airspace I must follow their rules. The good news is: getting authorization is super easy!

In our next installment, let’s define the MBS Airspace.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *