Although not the state capital, Baltimore is a beloved Maryland city and one of its major seaports. Attracting about 20 million visitors per year, Baltimore could be on your shortlist of places to visit as well.
Are you allowed to bring your drone and fly in Baltimore, Maryland?
You can fly a drone in Baltimore provided you have the proper license, you follow FAA guidelines, you avoid state parks when doing commercial photography, and you obey all federal, state, and local laws.
While it’s good news that you can fly your drone in Baltimore, it’s far from a free-for-all. Ahead, we’ll cover all the pertinent rules and guidelines so you can fly on the right side of the law when visiting this beautiful coastal city!
You can fly a drone in Baltimore, but here’s what you need to know
Pack your bags, hop in the car (or on a plane), and get ready to go, as you can bring your drone to Baltimore for some fun flights.
Before you launch your UAV, make sure you’re privy to these rules.
1. You must have your recreational or commercial license
Throughout the United States, federal drone law requires you to carry a license that classifies you as either a commercial or recreational pilot.
Since this is a federal drone law, it applies blanketly to the entire country, including the whole state of Maryland.
If you’re a hobbyist, then you must take The Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST test to earn your TRUST certificate.
The TRUST exam is a short online exam with fewer than 30 questions. You can take it for free from the comfort of your own home, and every answer you get incorrect is fixable before you submit your test.
The Federal Aviation Administration, which administers the TRUST exam, will mail out your TRUST license. It never expires, but if you lose it traveling to and from Baltimore, you’d have to take the exam again.
What about commercial pilots? In your case, you need to have a Remote Pilot Certificate on your person according to federal drone law.
What if you’ve yet to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate? Then you’ll have to sign up to take the FAA’s commercial exam, which is known as the Part 107 exam.
This is the far more difficult of the two tests. All the questions are multiple-choice, but you have to answer 60 questions and get 70 percent correct to pass.
The test must be taken at a testing center on the FAA’s approved list, and it costs a fee for every test attempt.
Make sure you check out our training resources here to study up ahead of your test!
Your Remote Pilot Certificate is good for two years, so make sure yours is current before you visit Baltimore to fly your drone. If it expired, then you’ll have to recertify through the FAA via a free online exam.
However, you cannot fly your drone before then.
2. No commercial photography in state parks without a permit
If you read our post on drone laws in Maryland, then you might remember the Maryland State Parks’ Commercial Photography Policy.
» MORE: Drone Laws in Maryland
If not, then allow us to introduce you!
The Commercial Photography Policy was created in 2019 by the Maryland Park Service in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources.
The policy makes it clear that “commercial users or film production entities” need at least a permit when doing any form of commercial filming or photography.
In other instances, you might need a permit as well as a lease document, an appropriate license, and/or a right-of-way agreement.
Whether you require only the permit or more, you’re on the hook for service charges as or if they accrue.
While the Commercial Photography Policy doesn’t mention drones specifically, since drones are capable of commercial filming and photography, they still count under the law.
Hobbyists needn’t worry about the Commercial Photography Policy, but if you’re a commercial pilot working on a project in Maryland, this policy is something to concern yourself with.
You will need to apply for a permit, ideally the sooner the better so you can obtain the permit and still have plenty of time to meet your deadline.
If you’re a commercial drone license holder and you don’t plan on engaging in any commercial flights during your time in Baltimore, then you don’t need to obtain a permit.
Just don’t try to be sneaky and take commercial videos or photos without a permit, as that won’t end well.
3. You must follow FAA guidelines
We would hope you know this, but we had to go ahead and mention it anyway.
No matter where you’re operating your drone in the US, be it Baltimore, a different city in Maryland, or a state that’s clear across the country, the FAA is the governing body when it comes to drone flights.
You’re subjected to their guidelines, including flying within a visual line of sight, flying in controlled versus uncontrolled airspace, recommended flight hours, and everything else.
4. You’re subject to all federal, state, and local laws
Speaking of federal laws, they, in addition to state and local laws, must all be followed by you, the pilot, whenever you fly in Baltimore.
We recommend brushing up on our post highlighting all the drone laws in Maryland. There aren’t many on a state level, and Baltimore has no specific local laws, so there isn’t a lot for you to remember.
If you venture outside of Baltimore to other parts of the lovely state of Maryland, then you’ll certainly want to know the local laws.
The best spots around Baltimore to fly your drone
So where in Baltimore can you fly your drone and capture the serenity and beauty of this picturesque city? Here are some drone-safe locations we recommend.
In nearby Gwynn Oak, you’ll find Leakin Park, which connects to Gwynn Falls and adjacent tributaries.
The park is 1,216 acres, making it the biggest woodland park in all the East Coast cities.
Leakin Park is Class G uncontrolled airspace and has plenty of spacious meadows, hiking trails, and the beautiful Magnolia Grove for you to capture footage on your drone.
Druid Hill Park
On the northwestern side of Baltimore is an urban park called Druid Hill Park that’s quite popular among drone pilots.
The park is 745 acres and is known for Druid Lake, the Moorish Tower on the southeastern corner of the park, the Latrobe Pavilion, the George Washington monument, the William Wallace monument, Rawlings Conservatory, the druid sculpture, and Edmunds Well.
The Maryland Zoo is on the grounds, but don’t expect to fly your drone there!
Southwest Area Park Air Flying Field
Although maybe not as visually breathtaking as the other destinations we’ve discussed, the Southwest Area Park Air Flying Field is an airstrip right beyond Baltimore that drone pilots should use.
The Class B controlled airspace features greenery and a large runway that’s 200 feet.
Curtis Creek Ship Graveyard
If you’re comfortable with flying your drone over water, then don’t miss the Curtis Creek Ship Graveyard.
This mysterious but compelling destination features a slew of wooden ships built around the time of World War I. Many sunk, others burned, and some suffered both fates.
The ship known as the Flying Dutchman of Baltimore or the William T. Parker schooner is a favorite, as it’s been in the water since 1899, but taking videos or photos of any of the ships is sure to make your visit to Baltimore worthwhile.
Patterson Park is both a Baltimore neighborhood and a park; we’re talking about the park.
The park attracts large crowds since it has a boating lake, an ice-skating rink, a swimming pool, and plenty of greenery as far as the eye can see.
The park is in Class G uncontrolled airspace, so while you should avoid crowds, you’re otherwise free to fly.
Compared to the other parks we’ve looked at, Patterson Park is a lot cozier and intimate, as it’s under 200 acres.
Plan to visit earlier or later in the day to fly freely without crowds, or at least with fewer people about.
Overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, Fells Point is a Baltimore neighborhood that features museums, restaurants, boutiques, record stores, and galleries on antique cobblestone roads.
You’ll want to capture the whimsy and wonder of this place, but make sure you visit during less crowded times so your drone isn’t a nuisance to the public.
Fall in love with the beauty of Lake Montebello in the northeastern part of Baltimore.
The reservoir was created in 1881 and has a loop that extends around the entire lake that’s less than two miles long.
While cyclists and joggers are here often, you might be able to traverse the loop and get some great footage on your drone.
The waters, the variety of wildlife, and the lush greenery will lead to some drone photos that you won’t be able to wait to put into your portfolio.
Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse
On Pier 5 is the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse, which was moved from its original location on the shoals of the Patapsco River.
Built in 1855, the lighthouse is known for its imposing height, bright colors, and screw-top design.
The lighthouse is Class G uncontrolled airspace, but considering the lighthouse doubles as a museum, don’t get too close!
Venturing into Downtown Baltimore makes it clear why this city is as beloved as it is.
The entertainment and business hub has a theater district, live entertainment venues, pubs and restaurants, markets, and museums.
Downtown Baltimore can get rather crowded at times, so limit your drone operation to when there are fewer people out.
Deeper into Baltimore is the Inner Harbor, a famed spot for exploring and sightseeing.
This is the home of the National Aquarium, Maryland Science Center, Top of the World Observation Level, Power Plant Live!, and so much more.
You know what we’re going to tell you then. Plan to be out with your drone when the Inner Harbor is less busy. Be careful when flying your drone over water as well.
Baltimore offers many enchanting coastal sights, and you can experience almost all of them with your drone in tow. You must have a commercial or recreational pilot’s license, obey FAA guidelines, and respect all state and local laws as well.
The wonders of Baltimore await you!