With the legal landscape for flying drones becoming more clear with proposed FAA rules, you’d think it’d be easier to know where you can and can’t fly and film from the skies? Well sometimes that isn’t the case, especially in Los Angeles. But CameraLends, a community based rental site that allows users to rent their gear, has released what they call the “Ultimate Drone Guide” for Los Angeles, so users can avoid trouble, and they’ll also rent you the latest drones to boot.
This is the third in a series that CameraLends.com has done, providing Drones filming guides for other cities including New York and San Francisco. And while each individual city will have their own set of rules and laws which must be adhered to, the basics are applicable no matter what city you are flying your drones in. First, it’s important to remember the basic rules according to the FAA:
- Payloads of under 55 pounds
- Altitude ceiling of 500 feet
- Speeds of less than 100 mph
- Daylight operation within site of operator
In addition, flyers are to avoid airports, with restricted airspace going out to about 5 miles. CameraLends does say that users can fly within that five mile halo, but there are additional height restrictions. The closer you are, the lower your drones’ altitude ceiling. For instance, within 1.5 miles, drones have a very restrictive 35 foot altitude ceiling, while at five miles, the ceiling goes out to 400 feet. Additionally, drones are not allowed over large groups of people or roads, National Parks (although CameraLends says that California State Parks have no such restrictions), or military airspace.
With that out of the way, CameraLends offers this convenient map (see right) which shows red zones of restricted airspace where drone flight is not permitted. You can see by the map there’s a lot of red, and it’s usually surrounding an airport, like LAX, Burbank, Long Beach, and dozens of smaller civilian aviation air fields that dot the southland. But there’s openings in down town Los Angeles, parts of the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, and further inland.
There are also several beaches including Huntington Beach, the Santa Monica Pier and Beach and parts of Newport where flyers can get some great coastal views. And likely the farther you go up or down the coast highway, the easier it is to fly legally around the beach, unless there’s a military base in the area, like there is in Ventura County, or down south by Camp Pendleton. Don’t fly there.
Additionally, although the basic rules do require flyers avoid large groups of gathered people, parks are a popular place to fly, including MacArthur Park, which has a lake that dominates the location. With L.A.’s downtown skyline in the background, you can get some pretty nice shots there.
Another good spot, according to Camera Lends is the Hollywood Hills. You may remember when DJI launched the Phantom 3, they did a pretty dramatic live streaming shot from around the Hollywood Hills and it made for some classic Hollywood aerial views.
So if you’re planning to fly drones in Los Angeles and grab some footage, be sure to check your local area rules, and view this Camera guide to know where you can legally go to fly. And if you’re in New York or San Francisco, check out there guides here, and here.