Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Aeronautics and Aviation

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or Drones: Model Aircraft Operators

Picture of a Drone

Model Aircraft Operators

Information for Recreational Drone Operators

Flying a recreational drone or model aircraft?
Be a Good NeighboRRR!

G – Give way: Federal law requires that all drones must give way to any manned aircraft.

N – Notify: Recreational drone users and model aircraft pilots are required by federal law to notify the airport manager or air traffic control facility when flying within 5 miles of an airport.

RRR – Register and Responsibly Follow the Rules

Give Way to Manned Aircraft

A collision between a drone and a manned aircraft could cause a fatal accident. University research has shown that even a small drone can cripple or destroy a jet engine.

It is extremely difficult for pilots of manned aircraft to see small drones with enough time to react. A recreational drone pilot on the ground has a better chance to see and hear an approaching manned airplane or helicopter.

MnDOT recommends:

  • Only fly your drone where you can see it and the space around it.
  • Land immediately if you see or hear an airplane or helicopter approaching.
  • Follow FAA guidelines on recreational operation. They're designed to keep EVERYONE safe!

Notify the Airport Manager or Air Traffic Control Facility when Flying within 5 Miles of an Airport

When flying recreational drones or model aircraft, you are required under federal law to notify the airport manager or air traffic control facility prior to flight. This is to ensure that pilots of manned aircraft that might be operating in the area are aware that they need to keep an especially sharp lookout for drones.

Did you know there are more than 375 public and private airports in Minnesota! This includes hospital heliports and seaplane bases. To figure out whether you are within 5 miles of one of these facilities, you can use the FAA’s smartphone app B4Ufly or commercial products such as AirMap .

Phone numbers for airport managers can be found in the MnDOT publication “Airport Directory and Travel Guide” which is updated annually. Airport manager contact information can also be found using the website Airport IQ5010.

Register and Responsibly Follow Rules

In most cases, recreational drone users and model aircraft pilots must register with the FAA. Registration costs $5 and is valid for 3 years.

Make sure that you use the FAA’s website to register: https://faadronezone.faa.gov/. The FAA has noted that fake drone registration websites have begun to pop up on the internet.

The State of Minnesota does not require registration of recreational drones or model aircraft. Note that Minnesota does require registration of a drone used commercially. If you are unsure whether your intended use is recreational or commercial, please contact Tony Fernando, UAS Program Administrator (651)-234-7227, anthony.fernando@state.mn.us.

The FAA requires that recreational drone users and model aircraft pilots comply with the safety-guidelines of a nationwide community based organization. The Safety Handbook of the Academy of Model Aeronautics is one example of such guidelines.

If you represent a community-based organization which has safety guidelines for drones or model aircraft, contact Tony Fernando, UAS Program Administrator (651)-234-7227, anthony.fernando@state.mn.us and we will link to them from this page.

Your city or county government may have additional rules, ordinances, or regulations which would affect your flight. There is no single website which lists all local ordinances, please contact your county or city government for information. MnDOT does maintain a list of local ordinances and rules, which is updated when we receive information about new rules.

Finally, although in most cases there is no legal requirement to obtain permission from a landowner before flying over his or her property, getting permission before flying will prevent many conflicts.