Rhode Island may be a tiny state on the east coast, but it offers big sights for drone pilots such as the Castle Hill Lighthouse, Roger Williams Park, Fort Adams State Park, and Rose Island.
Before exploring with your UAV, what are the drone laws here?
Rhode Island has a slew of federal, state, and local drone laws for pilots to follow. State park drone use is prohibited without a permit, and you’re also banned from flying over much of Narragansett. You have to follow Part 107 rules as well.
In today’s article, we’ll go through every Rhode Island drone law and explain it fully so there is no confusion ahead of your planned flight. Make sure you keep reading!
Federal Drone Laws in Rhode Island
The United States government mandates federal drone laws for each state, Rhode Island among them. These laws apply to commercial, government, and recreational drone pilots alike.
Here is an overview of Rhode Island’s federal drone laws.
Recreational Drone Pilots
Hobby drone pilots, also known as recreational drone pilots, under Rhode Island federal drone law, are required to follow the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 rules.
These rules outline the restrictions and permissions for drone pilots and ensure the safety of others in the vicinity as well as personal and public property.
You must have a TRUST certificate before you launch your drone into the sky. These certificates are issued by the FAA, but they don’t just hand them out.
Before you can get your TRUST certificate, you have to take the TRUST exam, which is also known as The Recreational UAS Safety Test.
You can sign up for the TRUST test today and do it at home on your computer since it’s all online-based.
The test has fewer than 30 questions. If you happen to answer any incorrectly, the wrong answers are displayed and correctable. You could get a perfect score if you wanted.
Once you have your TRUST certificate, you never have to worry about renewing it, which is quite handy! Just don’t lose it, as then you would have to take the FAA exam again.
There’s one more thing before you fly your drone. You might have to register it through the FAA, but only if the drone weighs at least 0.55 pounds or more.
The registration lasts for three years, and it only costs $5, so it’s quick and convenient enough to register your drone.
Agency Drone Pilots
As a government employee in the state of Rhode Island such as law enforcement or the fire department, your job may require you to use a drone.
Agency drone pilots need either a Certificate of Authorization (COA) or to follow the FAA’s Part 107 rules.
Commercial Drone Pilots
That brings us to commercial drone pilots. Rhode Island federal drone law mandates that this class of pilot always complies with the FAA’s Part 107 rules as well.
The FAA has special requirements for commercial drone pilots.
For instance, you will have to register your drone as well. If you have several drones in a fleet, all drones must be registered before you use them.
The registration terms and fees don’t change from the information in the paragraphs above.
Further, you must also carry a license for commercial pilots, the Remote Pilot Certificate.
You’re required to take a test to earn the certificate. That test is known as the Part 107 exam, and it’s by far the hardest of all the tests the FAA administers.
» MORE: FAA Part 107 for Commercial Drone Pilots
The test must be taken at a registered testing center. The number of test questions is a lot more than on the recreational pilot exam, and you don’t have the opportunity to see if any answers are wrong.
You have to be secure in your knowledge when you take the Part 107 exam.
Fortunately, if you fail to earn a score of at least 70 percent, you can always take the Part 107 exam again. However, it costs money to do so each and every time, so it can get expensive if you need too many retakes.
Ahead of your first Part 107 exam, it’s a good idea to register for a cram course at an online drone school. Check out our blog for reviews of the best online drone schools to help you choose!
» MORE: Best Drone Courses Taught by Experts
Once you have your drone registered and your Remote Pilot Certificate, you can enjoy commercial drone flights, but not forever.
In two years, the Remote Pilot Certificate expires. You can re-up the license by taking a recertifying exam.
» MORE: Renewal of Your Part 107 Certificate
The recertifying exam makes it convenient to keep your Part 107 license current. The test is short, quick, online-based, and free.
You must score 100 percent on the recertifying exam, but wrong answers are displayed and are correctable, so that shouldn’t be too hard.
State Drone Laws in Rhode Island
Next, let’s break down the two Rhode Island state drone laws.
Title 250 – Park and Management Area Rules and Regulations // 2019
We’ll begin with Title 250 – Park and Management Area Rules and Regulations.
These rules were put into place in 2019 to help establish guidelines for areas maintained and operated by the Forest Environment as part of the Department of Environmental Management and the Divisions of Fish and Wildlife and Parks and Recreation.
In Section 1.9 Annoying or Questionable Activities, C., Title 250 law is as follows.
“Engine powered model airplanes, unmanned aircraft systems, model boats, rockets and model cars shall be operated on, over or from a Public Reservation only upon receipt of official written permission. Unmanned aircraft systems shall not be used to harass or disturb users, wildlife, or any natural resource at a Public Reservation.”
Further, in Section 1.27 Motor Vehicles, G., Title 250 adds this law.
“Airborne conveyances such as balloons, gliders, engine-powered airplanes, unmanned aircraft systems, and ultra-lights shall not be operated without official written permission from Individual Park Facility Managers.”
HB 7511 // 2016
The second state drone law in Rhode Island is HB 7511, which is an unpiloted aerial vehicle regulation from 2016.
In Section 1-8-1. Exclusive aerial regulations., the law states that “Subject to federal law, the state of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation shall have exclusive legal authority to regulate any object capable of flying, which is remotely controlled, and flies autonomously through software controlled flight plans embedded in the object’s system by a global position system, commonly known as unpiloted aerial vehicles, remotely piloted aircraft, drones, or unmanned aircraft systems.”
Local Drone Laws in Rhode Island
Although the local drone laws are rather sparse, Rhode Island does have some, so let’s explore.
Town of Narragansett – Municipal Ordinance // 2016
Narragansett adopted a municipal ordinance regulating drone use in 2016.
The Town Council now outlaws drones “from being deployed, launched or flown in any airspace within 500 feet or over the Town Beach during beach season, any large venue special event in the Town of Narragansett, and over public parks, roads, and public facilities during large venue special events.”
Rhode Island Drone Law FAQs
If you still have a few unanswered questions about drone laws in Rhode Island, this succinct FAQs section should fill you in.
Can You Fly a Drone in a Public Park in Rhode Island?
To explore the beauty of Rhode Island, you can visit public parks such as Warwick City Park, Billy Taylor Park, World War II Memorial Park, River Island Park, and more.
For any parks located in the town of Narragansett, you are not allowed to fly a drone 500 feet or above any public park “during large venue special events.”
Beyond the rules in Narragansett, no other cities, towns, villages, or counties in Rhode Island have established ordinances barring drone pilots from public park usage.
That said, it’s always best to err on the side of caution in these situations and contact someone at the parks and rec association and ask what the drone policy is.
If you are allowed to fly a drone in a public park throughout Rhode Island, remember that you should always obey Part 107 rules.
Can You Fly a Drone in a State Park in Rhode Island?
The state parks are the true attraction in Rhode Island, from Goddard Memorial State Park to Colt State Park, Burlingame State Park, Fort Wetherill State Park, Lincoln Woods State Park, and so many more.
If you plan to visit any of Rhode Island’s state parks, you will have to do so without your drone by your side.
Title 250 – Park and Management Area Rules and Regulations explicitly bans drone pilots from flying in a state park throughout Rhode Island unless they have a special use permit.
The Parks and Recreation Department only issues those permits to news organizations and professional filming companies, so only commercial pilots could fly in a state park.
Rhode Island is a state brimming with drone laws on a federal, statewide, and local level. The laws clamp down on state park usage, and even some public parks are off-limits.
Once you find a safe, allowable place to fly your drone, always abide by Part 107 rules.
FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Test Prep
Peltier has quite the experience, making him qualified to teach about photography and drones in separate courses. He was a part of the U.S. Air Force as an F-15E flight instructor for a decade.
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Title 250 (link)
HB 7511 (link)
Narragansett municipal ordinance (link)