Nestled on the east coast is Vermont, a natural paradise that features the Okemo Mountain Resort, Lake Willoughby, Mad River, Mount Mansfield, Burke Mountain, and the Green Mountain National Forest.
If you wish to fly your drone in this idyllic state, what do you need to know?
Vermont has federal and state drone laws to abide by but no local laws. You must always follow FAA Part 107 rules, which are reinforced by state laws. You are welcome to fly in most parks, including state parks.
Before you venture out to beautiful Vermont for a day of sightseeing with your drone in tow, make sure you check out the information ahead. We’ll take you through every drone law so you can be safe in the skies!
Federal Drone Laws in Vermont
All states within the United States have a series of federal drone laws enforced by the US government. These laws are for government, recreational, and commercial drone pilots.
Here is an overview of Vermont’s federal drone laws.
Commercial Drone Pilots
Commercial drone pilots must always obey the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 drone rules according to Vermont federal law.
Part 107 rules are a collection of guidelines instituted by the FAA for the safety and wellbeing of pilots and nonpilots.
When flying your drone commercially, you’re required to carry a Remote Pilot Certificate on your person, which is a license issued by the FAA.
Those aspiring commercial pilots without a Remote Pilot Certificate will have to register to take the Part 107 exam, as that’s the only way to earn your certificate.
You must take the test at an approved testing center. The exam includes 60 multiple-choice questions, which you’re given more than two hours to answer.
I recommend studying up before you take the Part 107 exam. Enroll in an online drone school. Do some practice tests. Expand your knowledge.
The Part 107 exam is a paid test, so you want to do your best to pass the first time. You’ll need a score of at least 70 percent to do so.
Two years after your Remote Pilot Certificate is issued, it will expire. Renewing your license is as easy as taking an FAA online exam.
There is a catch – you have to get a perfect score.
That said, when taking this online renewal exam, you can go back and correct wrong answers before submitting the test. It shouldn’t be too hard to score 100 percent.
Don’t forget to register your drone, which you can do through the FAA as well. Your drone registration lasts for three years.
Recreational Drone Pilots
Vermont federal drone law applies to recreational drone pilots. You’re required to follow Part 107 rules.
The FAA also mandates that you have a license. It’s not the Remote Pilot Certificate but a license called the TRUST certificate.
TRUST is short for The Recreational UAS Safety Test, aka the same test you have to pass to earn your certificate.
The TRUST exam is designed to reinforce Part 107 rules. It’s far shorter than the Part 107 exam, and it’s taken online rather than at a testing center.
If you answer any question wrong as you’re taking the test, you can correct your answer before moving on.
Then you’ll be sent your TRUST certificate in the mail. The license does not expire.
You too are required to register your drone with the FAA if it weighs at least 0.55 pounds or more. Lighter drones need not be registered.
Agency Drone Pilots
Government or agency drone pilots under Vermont federal drone law must have a Certificate of Authorization or COA or they must follow Part 107 rules.
These pilots include law enforcement, fire departments, and other government agencies.
State Drone Laws in Vermont
Next, let’s go over Vermont’s state drone laws to better prepare you for your flight.
SB 155 // 2016
SB 155 was passed in 2016 to regulate law enforcement usage of drones.
Per §4622. Law Enforcement Use of Drones, the law is as follows:
“(a) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a law enforcement agency shall not use a drone or information acquired through the use of a drone for the purpose of investigating, detecting, or prosecuting crime.
(b)(1) A law enforcement agency shall not use a drone to gather or retain data on private citizens peacefully exercising their constitutional rights of free speech and assembly.”
The law underscores that law enforcement can use drones for the following purposes:
“(A) for observational, public safety purposes that do not involve gathering or retaining data; or
(B) pursuant to a warrant obtained under Rule 41 of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure.”
The next section of SB 155, §4623. Use of Drones; Federal Aviation Administration Requirements, mandate that “any use of drones by any person, including a law enforcement agency,” must follow FAA Part 107 rules.
In (b), the law reads, “It is the intent of the General Assembly that any person who uses a model aircraft as defined in the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 shall operate the aircraft according to the guidelines of community-based organizations such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics National Model Aircraft Safety Code.”
SB 155 also amends Sec. 3. 13 V.S.A. §4018 and adds:
“(a) No person shall equip a drone with a dangerous or deadly weapon or fire a projectile from a drone.”
If you violate the rule, then you may be fined $1,000 or face one year’s imprisonment and possibly both.
Does Vermont Have Any Local Drone Laws?
Many states have local drone laws that are created and enforced by cities, towns, villages, and counties. These laws include ordinances and policies on drone use, usually around local parks and other large gatherings.
Not every state has local drone laws, and that’s true of Vermont as well.
Although the state drone laws do not really apply to commercial and recreational pilots, between those and the federal drone laws, one thing is abundantly clear. Pilots must follow Part 107 rules.
Vermont Drone Law FAQs
Before we wrap up, we put together this helpful FAQ section that explores Vermont’s drone rules as they pertain to parks.
Can You Fly a Drone in a Public Park in Vermont?
Public parks are aplenty in Vermont and are an excellent place to capture footage of this picturesque state.
Most public park drone rules are established by local ordinances and laws. Vermont doesn’t have those, and we were unable to find any laws that outright banned drone pilots from flying recreationally or commercially in a public park.
Bearing that in mind, it’s still always best to contact the parks and rec association ahead of your flight to ask about the rules.
Should you be granted permission to fly, which we don’t foresee being an issue, remember to always do so according to Part 107 rules.
Can You Fly a Drone in a State Park in Vermont?
Vermont’s state parks are places of true beauty and splendor, including Branbury State Park, Sand Bar State Park, Emerald Lake State Park, Mt. Ascutney State Park, Underhill State Park, Half Moon Pond State Park, and more.
As was the case with using a drone in a public park, we were unable to find any rules that outlawed drones from state parks.
Many states are very protective over drone pilots entering state parks, so you should enjoy this rare treat, especially considering the majesty of the state parks throughout Vermont.
Vermont is a hidden gem on the east coast that’s known for its natural attractions.
Surprisingly, those attractions are available to drone pilots, including both public and state parks. Vermont has no local drone laws either.
Although the drone laws here are scant, that only makes it that much more important that you obey the laws currently in place. Avoid any form of weaponizing your drone and always obey Part 107 drone rules!
SB 155 (link)