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

What is a model aircraft operator?

Operators of UAS that are using them for recreational or hobby purposes.

Federal rules, restrictions & requirements

UAS operation near airports

Model aircraft operators are required to notify the airport operator and air traffic control before flying within five miles of an airport. There are 135 public use airports in Minnesota, but more than 375 airports when you include the private facilities. Hospital heliports and seaplane bases are also considered airports.  Only eight airports in Minnesota have control towers; the only tower controlled airports outside of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area are Duluth, St. Cloud and Rochester. At airports without control towers within 30 miles of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Air Traffic Control is provided by the Minneapolis Terminal Radar Control Facility based at MSP.  At airports without control towers outside of the TRACON, Air Traffic Control is provided by Minneapolis Center based in Farmington.

Smartphone applications such as B4Ufly and AirMap help users to identify the airports near them. The best location for contact information for the airport operator is Airport IQ 5010.