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Know Before You Fly UAS Program

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The State of Nevada supports the safe operation of drones for recreational use and commercial purposes.  Coordination is a MUST!! There are many areas around the airport that are NOT SAFE to fly drones because manned aircraft will be at low altitudes.

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

Do you own or operate a model airplane? A drone? A quadcopter? All of these are considered UAS and flying them is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).


The regulation of drones in the hands of civilian pilots took a big step forward on December 14, 2015. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that all units weighing between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds must be registered by February 19th, 2016  Anyone caught flying without proper registration after that date could face stiff penalties. The FAA says civil penalties include a fine of up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years in jail.

UAS / Drones / Quadcopters / and all forms of Model Aircraft come in a variety of shapes and sizes and serve diverse purposes. Regardless of size or type, the responsibility to fly safely applies equally to manned and unmanned aircraft operations.

Currently, small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) may be operated for hobby and recreational purposes under specific safety guidelines as established by Congress. Small UAS flown for recreational purposes are typically known as model aircraft and weigh less than 55 lbs.

The recreational use of UAS is the operation of an unmanned aircraft for personal interests and enjoyment.  For example, using a UAS to take photographs for your own personal use would be considered recreational; using the same device to take photographs or videos for compensation or sale to another individual would be considered a commercial operation and fall under a separate set of regulations. You should check with the FAA for further determination as to what constitutes commercial or other non-hobby, non-recreational UAS operations.

Model Aircraft

Under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (, recreational UAS must be operated in accordance with several requirements, including a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) ( Operators not operating within the safety program of a community-based organization should follow the FAA’s guidance at

Safety Guidelines

The FAA has partnered with several industry associations to promote Know Before You Fly, a campaign to educate the public about using unmanned aircraft safely and responsibly. Individuals flying for hobby or recreation are strongly encouraged to follow safety guidelines, which include:

  • Follow community-based safety guidelines, as developed by organizations such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).
  • Don't fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs. (these have different regulations).
  • Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible.
  • Don't fly within 5 miles of any airport unless you contact that airport before flying.
  • Keep your UAS in eyesight at all times.
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations, and you must see and avoid other aircraft and obstacles at all times.
  • Don't fly over persons or vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.
  • Don't fly in adverse weather conditions such as in high winds or reduced visibility.
  • Don't fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Ensure the operating environment is safe and that the operator is competent and proficient in the operation of the UAS.
  • Don't fly near or over sensitive infrastructure or property such as power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc.
  • Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.
  • Don't conduct surveillance or photograph persons in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual's permission (see AMA's privacy policy).
  • Don't fly near people or stadiums.
  • Don't be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft - you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft.

The State of Nevada has many airports that are developing policies that will allow limited UAS operations within 5 miles. Please use the link to our airport directory and contact the local airport manager or airport owner at non-towered airports or facilities where there is no Air Traffic Control presence for permission.

Commercial & Civil Flyers

The FAA requires you to have a 333 Exemption and the accompanying Certificate of Authorization (COA). If you are a public agency or working for a public agency for hire, you should obtain a 333 Exemption. Unless you have a specific COA that allows something different, some of the things you MUST do include:

  • Drone_05Possess an FAA issued Pilot Certificate
  • Operate five (5) miles or more away from the airports
  • Operate at altitudes of 400 feet above ground or less
  • File a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) describing your flight
  • Maintain visual line of sight with your Drone
  • See and avoid manned aircraft

Nevada locations have almost unlimited wide open spaces with sparse populations, but excellent proximity to larger urban centers with international airports.  More than a few airports are permitting drone operations as in a short list below: (please contact the airport manager)

  • Creech Air Force Base – Southern Nevada
  • Nellis Air Force Base – Southern Nevada
  • Naval Air Station - Fallon, NV
  • Fallon Municipal Airport
  • Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) / Desert Rock Airport (DOE operated)
  • Reno-Stead Airport
  • Silver Springs Airport
  • Hawthorne Industrial AIrport
  • Searchlight Airport
  • Boulder City Municipal Airport - Droneport
  • Dayton Valley Airpark
  • Carson City