Can You Fly A Drone in Chicago? (Answered)


In this blog post, we’ll explore the question, “Is drone flying allowed in Chicago?”.

So, let’s jump in and discover everything you need to know — regulations, penalties (if any) and safety tips to keep in mind!

Can You Fly A Drone in Chicago

Can You Fly a Drone in Chicago?

Yes, you can fly a drone in Chicago. However, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the local regulations and guidelines to ensure a safe and legal flying experience. Here drone flights are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has specific rules and restrictions in place to protect public safety and privacy. By adhering to these regulations and respecting the local authorities’ guidelines, drone enthusiasts can enjoy capturing stunning aerial footage while exploring Chicago’s beautiful landscapes.

Overview of Drone Regulations

Let’s take a look at some of the key points for drone regulations:

Maximum Altitude Limits

  • The maximum altitude limit for drone flying is set at 400 feet above ground level without special permissions. This is in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations to prevent interference with manned aircraft.
  • For operations in controlled airspace, the maximum altitude can be less than 400 feet and varies depending on location. The specific altitude limit can be obtained from FAA’s UAS Facility Maps.

Distance Restrictions

  • Drones must not be flown within a 5-mile radius of any airport unless they have proper authorization from air traffic control.
  • Drones must maintain a minimum distance of 25 feet from individuals, excluding the operator, and should not overfly crowds or gatherings of people.

Prohibited Activities and Actions

  • Drone operators are strictly prohibited from flying their unmanned aerial systems (UAS) over people without their permission or over private property without the owner’s consent.
  • All drone users must follow FAA guidelines, including not flying higher than 400 feet, maintaining a line of sight with the drone at all times, and not operating the drone near other aircraft or in restricted airspace, such as within 5 miles of an airport.

Privacy and Data Protection Considerations

  • Drone operators must respect privacy rights by not recording or capturing images in areas where an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, without their explicit permission. This includes private property, residential areas, and other sensitive places.
  • All drone data, including photographs or video footage obtained during flight, must be securely stored and appropriately managed to avoid unauthorized access or data breaches. This includes implementing measures to secure data during transmission and storage, and deleting or anonymizing data when it is no longer needed.

Commercial Operations

  • All commercial drone operators must possess a Remote Pilot Certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as per Part 107 regulations. This includes passing the FAA’s Aeronautical Knowledge Test.
  • All commercial drones are required to stay below an altitude of 400 feet above ground level (AGL) and must never fly over people or moving vehicles. Additionally, drone operations are not permitted within five miles of an airport without prior notification and approval.

Penalties for Violating Drone Regulations

Violating drone regulations in Chicago can lead to serious consequences. If you’re caught flying a drone recklessly or without the necessary permits, you could face federal, state, and local penalties. These can range from fines to even imprisonment. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can impose civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include fines up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

Additionally, there are potential penalties on a local level. In 2015, the city of Chicago passed an ordinance that imposes its own regulations on drone users. Violating these local laws can lead to penalties including fines from $500 to $5,000 and up to 180 days in jail. It’s also important to remember that if your drone causes damage to property or injury, you could be held civilly liable for those damages.

Tips for Safe and Responsible Drone Flying in Chicago

To ensure a positive drone flying experience and comply with the regulations, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  1. Respect Airspace: Always abide by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and never fly in restricted airspace (e.g., near airports or government facilities).
  2. Avoid Crowds: To ensure public safety, avoid flying over groups of people, public events, or heavily trafficked roads.
  3. Stay in Sight: Always keep your drone within your line of sight to maintain control and prevent potential accidents.
  4. Respect Privacy: Do not fly over private property or take photographs without the property owner’s consent to respect privacy rights.
  5. Monitor Weather Conditions: Avoid flying the drone in unfavorable weather conditions, such as heavy winds or rain, as it can affect the drone’s performance and safety.


Can I Fly My Drone at Night in Chicago?

Yes, you can fly your drone at night in Chicago. However, you must adhere to the FAA regulations, which require the drone to be equipped with anti-collision lights visible for 3 statute miles.

Can You Bring a Drone to Chicago?

Yes, you can bring a drone to Chicago. However, while flying it, adhere to the Federal Aviation Administration regulations and the city’s local laws to ensure legal and safe drone operation.

Do I Need a License or Permit to Fly a Drone in Chicago?

Yes, to fly a drone in Chicago, you need to adhere to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) rules, which require you to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate. Additionally, local ordinances may impose restrictions on drone use in specific areas within the city.


Before you launch your drone into the Chicago skies, it’s crucial to understand the area’s drone laws and regulations.

This applies not only to Chicago but also to other destinations around the world. For example, if you’re heading to Cliffs Of Moher, it’s important to know the specific rules and guidelines for drone flying there. Similarly, if you have dreams of capturing breathtaking footage of South Africa or exploring drone opportunities around Hamilton Island, it’s essential to be aware of the local drone regulations in those locations as well.

Drone laws are subject to change, and information in this blog may become outdated; always consult official sources for the latest regulations.

So, whether you’re planning a leisurely flight or engaging in commercial drone operations, make sure to fly responsibly, and stay informed.

Resources and Further Information:

Photo of author
Peter Karanja is a licensed drone pilot from Kenya, freelance writer and drone enthusiast. He has been using drones for land survey, GIS, and photography for the past three years. Being a drone user, he loves writing about drone applications, safety tips for using drones, and the best ways to get the most out of a drone.

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