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?

Federal law requires that all drones must give way to any manned aircraft.

Recreational drone users and model aircraft pilots are required to register their aircraft with the FAA at faadronezone.faa.gov

All drone users and model aircraft pilots are required by federal law to obtain authorization to fly in controlled airspace.

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!

Obtain Authorization to Fly in Controlled Airspace

When flying recreational drones or model aircraft in controlled airspace, you are required under federal law to obtain air traffic control authorization prior to flight.

Did you know there are more than 375 public and private airports in Minnesota! This includes hospital heliports and seaplane bases. You can use the FAA’s smartphone app B4Ufly to determine whether you are in controlled airspace and use commercial products from the LAANC program to request authorization.

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 three years.

Make sure that you use the FAA’s website to register. 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 the UAS Department at droneinfo.dot@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 the UAS Department at droneinfo.dot@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 may prevent many conflicts.


MnDOT is the state-level regulatory agency for aircraft in Minnesota. We are here to help you with your UAS operations. For assistance, please contact:

UAS Department
MnDOT - Office of Aeronautics