Drone Laws in Pennsylvania Explained (2023 Regulations)


Drones have become increasingly popular in recent years, providing countless opportunities for commercial and recreational use. Before flying a drone, understanding the drone laws in Pennsylvania is crucial for both commercial and hobbyist flyers. Navigating through the complex regulations can ensure safe and legal drone operation within the state. In this article, we will delve into the various drone laws applicable in Pennsylvania and provide essential information for drone pilots.

Can You Fly a Drone in Pennsylvania?

Yes, you can fly a drone in Pennsylvania. However, it is important to follow the regulations set by both the federal and state governments to ensure compliance and avoid any legal consequences.

Federal Drone Laws in Pennsylvania

Federal Drone Laws in Pennsylvania

Drone pilots in Pennsylvania must abide by the federal regulations established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA’s rules include Part 107 rules for agency pilots and recreational drone registration requirements.

Commercial Drone Use in Pennsylvania

If you intend to use a drone for commercial purposes in Pennsylvania, you must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. This certificate demonstrates your knowledge and understanding of aviation regulations and safety protocols. Additionally, commercial drone operators are required to register their drones with the FAA before conducting any operations.

Recreational Drone Flying

For recreational drone flying in Pennsylvania, drone pilots must register your drone with the FAA and pass The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST). This test covers the key safety guidelines and regulations governing drone operation. Hobbyist drone operators must also follow safety guidelines provided by community-based organizations (CBOs) for drone operation, such as flying under 400 feet and avoiding restricted areas like airports and prisons.

Government Employee Drone Operation

Government employees in Pennsylvania, including those working for the fire department or police, must adhere to the FAA’s Part 107 rule or get a federal Certificate of Authorization (COA) to use the drone for official reasons. 

Note: This content is accurate up to the date it was last updated, and drone regulations in Pennsylvania can change over time. This is not meant to take the place of legal counsel.

State Drone Laws in Pennsylvania

State Drone Laws in Pennsylvania

In addition to federal regulations, Pennsylvania has specific drone laws that drone pilots must comply with. Drone pilots must follow the state laws as well as the federal ones. You can find detailed information about Pennsylvania’s drone laws in the official documents provided by the state government, but the key points include:

  • Title 18 Sec. 3505 // 2018: You cannot use a drone to intentionally conduct surveillance of someone on private property.
    • It’s illegal to use a drone to place another person in fear of harm
    • You cannot use a drone to transport or deliver contraband. 
  • Title 53 Sec. 305 // 2018: Includes a preemption policy for the above law stating that no municipality can create laws to counteract it. Furthermore, municipalities cannot regulate drone ownership or operation. 
  • Drone Operation at Pennsylvania State Parks: Drone use is prohibited at many Pennsylvania state parks.You may  only operate a drone at designated flying sites at these state parks:
    • Beltzville State Park
    • Benjamin State Park
    • Lackawanna State Park
    • Tuscarora State Park
    • Hillman State Park
    • Prompton State Park 

Local Drone Laws in Pennsylvania

Local Drone Laws in Pennsylvania

Many states have local drone laws, or drone laws that only apply to certain cities or counties. However, the Pennsylvania state drone law  Title 53 Sec. 305 outlines that no municipality can create laws to regulate drone ownership or usage. Instead, the code above preempts all municipal rules throughout the state. 

Penalties for Violating Drone Laws in Pennsylvania

Violating a drone law in Pennsylvania may result in a penalty. The exact form and extent or the penalty varies depending on the rule in question. Flying a drone in a way that endangers other people or their property is against the law. Breaking this law can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges based on the details of the offense. 

FAQ About Drone Laws in Pennsylvania

Can I fly a drone over private property in Pennsylvania?

Yes, you can fly a drone over private property in Pennsylvania if you adhere to all drone laws including flying under 400 feet and not using the drone for surveillance. 

What are the restrictions on flying drones near airports in Pennsylvania?

Flying drones near airports in Pennsylvania is strictly prohibited without proper authorization. The FAA has established no-fly zones and restricted airspace around airports to ensure aviation safety. Drone pilots must adhere to these restrictions and obtain the necessary permissions when operating near airports.

Which PA state parks allow drones?

Many Pennsylvania state parks do not allow drones. The following state parks in PA have designated UAS areas:

Benjamin Rush State Park
Hillman State Park
Prompton State Park
Tuscarora State Park
Beltzville State Park 
Lackawanna State Park 

Can I fly a drone at Gettysburg, PA?

No, you cannot launch, land, or operate a UAS on National Park Service lands including those in Gettysburg National Military Park.

Photo of author
I’m a huge fan of drones, cars, and anything that moves fast! Having bought, tested, and raced drones over the years, tinkering and experimenting with different parts and types, my fascination with drone technology led me to start this blog. So if you enjoy drone content covering the latest drone reviews, recommendations for the best drones for certain uses, and informative content on programming drones and other fun areas, stick around!