The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has outlawed the commercial use of most unmanned aerial vehicles while it writes rules to govern them. Hobbyists are still allowed to fly small drones—often equipped with a camera to capture that bragworthy summer vacation video—but face confusing, conflicting rules about where and when. A guide to getting aloft without getting into trouble.
No: Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota The National Park Service has banned drones from parks, monuments, historical sites, and seashores.
Yes: Oregon Dunes Some parts of the largest dune formation in North America are on state land, where drones are allowed for now—the state says it’s studying the issue.
AP Photo; Redux
Disney World vs. Rose Bowl
No: Disney World, Orlando No siccing your Quadcopter on Tinker Bell. Congress approved the Magic Kingdom as a restricted airspace.
Yes: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif. America’s Stadium is a hot meetup spot for hobbyists on nongame days. Tip: Head for Lot H.
Airports vs. Hollywood Sign
No: Airports Forget it. In June the FAA expanded the no-fly zone around all airports to 5 miles from 3.
Yes: Hollywood Sign, Los Angeles There are no flight restrictions over the iconic sign—just don’t get too close to the traffic copters.
St. Bonifacius vs. Northern Plains UAS Test Site
No: St. Bonifacius, Minn. Last year, to protect citizens’ privacy, the city became one of the first in the U.S. to ban all drones, including hobby craft.
Yes: Northern Plains UAS Test Site, North Dakota This experimental air station is one of six designated FAA test sites for commercial craft—but it welcomes hobbyist tinkerers, too.
Getty Images; AP Photo
Monterey Bay vs. Boynton Beach
No: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, California Model aircraft are banned over sensitive preserves that are home to harbor seals and other wildlife.
Yes: Boynton Beach, Fla. The town voted down restrictions and in June hosted Quadcopolypse, the ultimate drone geekfest.