PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Who would have thought that our toys and hobbies would raise such a ruckus at some of the most popular getaway spots in the nation? From Valley Forge to Yosemite those fascinating and rapidly multiplying drones are getting the boot. So, where are the multi-rotored camera platforms dodging “No-Fly” signs? Here’s a sampling.
If you have visions of getting the video of your life from a drone flying above your cruise ship, forget about it. Most cruise line have listed drones as “prohibited items”. The prime concern is safety. But ships masts hold sensitive antennas that are allergic to collisions with flying objects. However, some cruise lines like Carnival will allow drones aboard ship. But, “for port use only.” Check your own cruise line and destination ports for local rules and regulations.
NATIONAL PARKS AND RECREATION AREAS
All National Parks prohibit the use of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s). The Park Service took the action following nuisance and noise complaints from visitors, several crashes and some park buzzing the spooked the wildlife. There are however, some exceptions. Recreational drone owners can contact the Superintendant of any park they visit for special permission. It’s seldom given. Motion picture and TV Film crews can apply for permits. Then there are some designated park areas for UAV flight. One is right here in the Delaware Valley.
VALLEY FORGE NATIONAL PARK
There is a designated area set aside at Valley Forge National Park for use by radio controlled model airplane flyers. It is administered by the Valley Forge Signal Seekers, an insured organization that provides instructors and monitors daily activity at the park’s flying site. It is not intended for general use by recreational drone operators. However, model aircraft operators who are not club members can obtain day passes. http://vfss.org/content.aspx?page_id=22&club_id=347207&module_id=275295 Contact the club for specifics and to arrange for a pass.
Pennsylvania State Parks have banned drone use except in designated areas at 6 parks. http://www.dcnr.pa.gov/StateParks/RulesAndRegulations/UnmannedAerialSystemsandDrones/Pages/default.aspx The closest of the 6 is Beltsville near the Lehighton exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Meanwhile, New Jersey has banned the use of drones at state parks. That includes the popular Cape May Point park. Sorry. No aerial pix of that spectacular lighthouse. However, some use by fixed wing model aircraft is permitted in designated areas. http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/docs/policy_2.38_unmanned_aerial_vehicles-drones.pdf
Delaware has banned recreational drone use at all state parks except by organized groups for special events. Permission is required. Brandywine Creek does have a regular organized event.
Across the country, ski areas have become year-round resorts and day-trip recreation destinations. In winter and summer, they are tempting drone photography locations. However, drones have become safety concerns because of the potential for collision with aerial chairlift and zip-line operations as well as recreational use on the ground, below. Legal liability for injury or damage from drone use has resulted in the chopper’s banishment from most ski resorts. If you’ll be enjoying spring or summer on the slopes, check first on drone policy. You may be able to get special permission.
General multi-activity getaway resorts have mixed policies. Some allow drones in designated areas and some have banned them outright. Unless the resort specifies a policy, check before booking.
Here it’s really a mixed bag. The golf operations community itself is making good use of drones for everything from course mapping to delivery of balls and beer to golfers (Japan). However some municipalities around the country have banned drone use over recreational areas because of safety concerns. Call before you go.
Because drones have been gaining popularity over the years the use has exploded. Rules, regulations and laws have been playing catch-up. It’s a work work-in-progress and changing almost weekly. The FAA has created a mobile app to keep drone pilots up-to-date on regs and no-fly zones.
Now, off you go into the wild blue yonder. But don’t frighten the horses and children.