West Virginia Drone Laws 2024 (Federal, State, and Local Rules To Know)

West Virginia Drone Laws

Before you head out with your drone to explore what the state of West Virginia has in store for you, you have to be aware of the drone laws in West Virginia or else you risk getting into trouble with the law.

Are drones allowed in West Virginia?

It is legal to fly drones in the state of West Virginia. It has federal, state, and local laws that govern the flying of drones in the state. However, West Virginia state drone laws allow drone operations in West Virginia state parks but prohibit using drones or other unmanned aircraft to hunt animals.

In this article, I will cover everything you need to know about West Virginia drone laws for you to enjoy a pleasurable flight with your drone and stay clear of any legal proceedings.

Federal Drone Laws In West Virginia

The United States drone laws are the federal drone laws that apply to West Virginia and every state in the United States of America and were created by the federal government.

If you have a small drone that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly recreationally by following the Drone Laws in the USA as defined by FAA Part 107 guidelines.

Federal Drone Laws for Recreational Flying in West Virginia

You can fly your drone for recreational purposes in West Virginia as a hobby without seeking monetary compensation as long as you follow the FAA law (Part 107) and also check the state jurisdiction for additional licensing, permission, and clearance requirements.

Morgantown is the county seat of Monongalia County, West Virginia
Morgantown is the county seat of Monongalia County, West Virginia

Below are the federal rules to follow while flying your drone for recreational purposes in West Virginia to keep you, your drone, and everyone safe in the airspace.

  1. Fly your drone only for recreational use or as a hobby.
  2. Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized Community Based Organization (CBO). Recreational flyers should follow the safety guidelines of existing aeromodelling organizations or use the FAA-provided safety guidelines per Advisory Circular 91-57B.
  3. Keep your drone within your visual line of sight or use a co-located visual observer (physically next to) and in direct communication with you.
  4. Don’t fly close or interfere with a manned aircraft.
  5. Fly below 400 feet in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and E) after obtaining permission from LAANC or FAA Drone Zone.
  6. Fly below 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace (Class G). Note: You can also be prohibited from flying in a Class G airspace in areas designated as prohibited areas, restricted areas, military operated areas, alert areas, etc. except given prior authorization from the FAA.
  7. Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage.
  8. Always slap your registration number on the exterior surface of your drones and always carry the proof of registration with you. As a recreational flier, you are exempted from registering and marking your drones by the FAA as long as your drone weighs less than 0.55 lbs (250 grams).
  9. Do not dangerously operate your drone. For example:
    • Do not interfere with emergency response or law enforcement activities.
    • Do not fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
    • Avoid flying near or over critical infrastructure.

You should be aware that you could be liable for civil and/or criminal penalties if you intentionally break any of these rules and regulations listed above as a recreational drone pilot.

As a recreational drone pilot, you are obliged to learn the rules and regulations put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the proper use of drones for recreational flying.

You should also apply common sense when operating your drone in crowded public places, historic resources, and public places to keep everyone safe.

Federal Drone Laws For Commercial Drone flying in West Virginia

You can fly your drone for commercial purposes in West Virginia with the aim of seeking monetary compensation as long as you follow the FAA law (Part 107) and also check the state jurisdiction for additional licensing, permission, and clearance requirements.

Monongahela River flows between Morgantown  and Westover WV
Monongahela River flows between Morgantown and Westover WV

Below are the federal rules to follow while flying your drone for recreational purposes in West Virginia to keep you, your drone, and everyone safe in the airspace.

Step 1: Learn the Rules

  1. Read and understand the dos and don’ts as a commercial flyer the under Part 107 rules. Review a summary of the Part 107 rules (PDF). Still unsure if Part 107 rules work for you and your intended UAS operation? Check the FAA user identification tool.
  2. You can obtain a waiver to exceed some limit put in place by the FAA that is not covered by Part 107. Below are some laws in Part 107 that are subject to a waiver.
    • Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft. *
    • Always operate your drone during the day. *
    • Keep your drone from out of the Visual line of sight from an aircraft operation *
    • Keep your drone in your Visual line of sight. *
    • Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems. *
    • Yielding the right of way. *
    • Don’t fly your drone over people. *
    • Restriction from certain airspace. *
    • Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.
    • *The FAA will not waive this section to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
    • You should read about the Part 107 Waiver application process if your drone operation requires a waiver.
  3. Commercial drone operators should steer clear of flying close to airports as it might be challenging for human aircraft to spot and avoid a drone in flight. Keep in mind that the UAV operator is accountable for any safety threat their drone poses in an airport area and must avoid crewed aircraft. Read more about flying near airports.

Step 2: Become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot by Passing the Knowledge Test

  1. To be eligible to get your Drone License (Remote Pilot Certificate), you must be:
    • At least 16 years old
    • Able to read, write, speak, and understand English
    • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a UAS
  2. Review the entire process to get your Drone License or Remote Pilot Certificate.
  3. Study for the Knowledge Test by reviewing the Test Prep materials provided by the FAA.
  4. Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) by creating an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile before registering for a knowledge test.
  5. Schedule an appointment to take the Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center.
  6. Once you’ve passed your test, complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)*
  7. You are now eligible to operate as a commercial drone pilot.

Step 3: Register your drone with the FAA

  • Pay the registration fee of $5 with your credit card or debit card to get a valid three year license to commercially fly drones.
  • Visit dronezone.faa.gov and select “Fly UAS under Part 107” to create an account and register your drone.
  • After that, mark the exterior surface of your drone (PDF) with your registration number for identification and tracking if it were to get stolen

Always be sure to fly your drone safely and within FAA guidelines and regulations. It is up to you as a drone pilot to know the rules of the sky and where it is safe to fly. You should try the user identification tool if you aren’t sure if Part 107 is right for you and your operation

Federal Drone Laws for Public Drone Flying In West Virginia

Federal public laws are drone laws for federal, state, local, or tribal government entities, including schools and universities that use unmanned aircraft systems or drone technology for their operations.

Fairmont is a city in Marion County, West Virginia, United States.
Fairmont is a city in Marion County, West Virginia, United States.

Federal Restrictions & Requirements

  • Be a political subdivision of the United States government, a State or U.S. territory government, the District of Columbia, or an Indian Tribal Government listed in the Robert T Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. § 5122)
  • Own and operate the unmanned aircraft, or for non-federal public aircraft operators (PAO’s) have an exclusive lease on it for more than 90 days
  • Fly missions that meet the statutory criteria of a governmental function on a flight-by-flight basis.
  • Not fly for a commercial purpose or receive compensation for flight operations.

Emergency Situations

First responders and other organizations responding to natural disasters or other emergency situations may be eligible for expedited approval through our Special Governmental Interest (SGI) process. Operations that may be considered include:

  • Firefighting
  • Search and Rescue
  • Law Enforcement
  • Utility or Other Critical Infrastructure Restoration
  • Incident Awareness and Analysis
  • Damage Assessments Supporting Disaster Recovery Related Insurance Claims
  • Media Coverage Providing Crucial Information to the Public

To apply for a waiver through the SGI process, you must be an existing Part 107 Remote Pilot with a current certificate OR you must have an existing Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). To submit a waiver through this process, fill out the Emergency Operation Request Form  and send it to the FAA’s System Operations Support Center (SOSC) at 9-ator-hq-sosc@faa.gov .

If approved, the FAA will add an amendment to your existing COA or Remote Pilot Certificate that authorizes you to fly under certain conditions for the specified operation. If denied, operators should not fly outside the provisions of their existing COA or part 107. Operators have the option to amend their requests.

* This process is called the Special Government Interest (SGI) amendment process and is outlined in FAA Order JO 7200.23A

State Drone Laws In West Virginia

Charleston, West Virginia, USA skyline on the Kanawha River at dusk.
Charleston, West Virginia, USA skyline on the Kanawha River at dusk.

The West Virginia state drone laws are those drone laws that apply to the entire state of West Virginia and were created by the West Virginia Legislature.

West Virginia has two state-wide law governing the use of drones in the state as put together by the West Virginia Department of Transportation and the West Virginia Legislature,

House Bill 4607 (2018)

House Bill 4607 allows drone operations in West Virginia State but only after obtaining the official authorization of the Park Superintendent and registration.

House Bill 3005 (2018)

All drone-related illegal uses in West Virginia are covered under this statute. A person is not permitted to operate an unmanned aircraft system unless specifically permitted by the terms of this article.

  • To knowingly and purposefully record or take photos, videos, or audio of another person without that person’s consent, in a way that would violate that person’s reasonable expectation of privacy, including but not limited to recording or taking photos through a window.
  • To knowingly and intentionally view, follow, or contact another person or the private property of another without the other person’s permission in a manner that would invade the individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy, including, but not limited to, viewing, following, or contacting through a window.
  • To knowingly and purposefully harass another person or violate a restraining order.
  • To operate a drone with a disregard for the safety of persons or property, or to knowingly and intentionally operate a drone in a manner that interferes with the official duties of law enforcement personnel or emergency medical personnel.

House Bill 2515 (2015)

House Bill 2515 prohibits using drones or other unmanned aircraft to hunt animals. This covers driving and herding them as well as hunting, taking, killing, or firing at wild animals or birds.

61-14-2: Prohibited Use of an Unmanned Aircraft System; Criminal Penalties

  1. Except as authorized by the provisions of this article, a person may not operate an unmanned aircraft system:
    • To knowingly and intentionally capture or take photographs, images, video, or audio of another person or the private property of another, without the other person’s permission, in a manner that would invade the individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy, including, but not limited to, capturing, or recording through a window;
    • To knowingly and intentionally view, follow, or contact another person or the private property of another without the other person’s permission in a manner that would invade the individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy, including, but not limited to, viewing, following, or contacting through a window;
    • To knowingly and intentionally harass another person;
    • To violate a restraining order or similar judicial order;
    • To act with a willful wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property; or
    • To knowingly and intentionally operate an unmanned aircraft system in a manner that interferes with the official duties of law enforcement personnel or emergency medical personnel.
  2. Any person violating the provisions of subsection (a) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 or confined in jail for not more than one year, or both fined and confined.
  3. Any person who equips an unmanned aircraft system with any deadly weapon or operates any unmanned aircraft system equipped with any deadly weapon, other than for military in an official capacity, is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000 or imprisoned in a state correctional facility for not less than one nor more than five years, or both fined and imprisoned.
  4. Any person who operates an unmanned aircraft system with the intent to cause damage to or disrupt in any way the flight of a manned aircraft is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $1,000 nor more than $5,000 imprisoned for not less than one nor more than five years, or both fined and imprisoned.
  5. A person that is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate unmanned aircraft systems for commercial purposes may operate an unmanned aircraft system in this state for such purposes if the unmanned aircraft system is operated in a manner consistent with federal law.
Huntington is a city in Cabell and Wayne counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia. It is the county seat of Cabell County
Huntington is a city in Cabell and Wayne counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia.

Local Drone Laws In West Virginia

West Virginia local drone laws are those drone laws that apply only to certain regions, cities, or counties within the state of West Virginia and were created by various authorities within the state.

West Virginia does not have any local drone laws as of the time of writing this article. All drone pilots would have to obey the federal drone laws as defined by the FAA and the state drone laws as defined by the state government in any county, town, or city in West Virginia.

Frequently Asked Questions on West Virginia Drone Laws

Can you fly a drone over private property in West Virginia?

You can fly a drone above a house or private property in West Virginia as long as you don’t fly below the minimum height, hover around the property, or use your drone to capture or record the occupants without permission from the occupants or property owner.

Can you fly a drone in West Virginia without a license?

Recreational drone pilots don’t need a license to fly a drone in West Virginia, but you must pass a free online safety test (TRUST). However, commercial drone flyers must get a certificate (Part 107) from the FAA. Furthermore, all drones weighing more than 249 grams must be registered to operate in West Virginia.

Can you shoot down a drone in West Virginia?

Shooting down a drone in West Virginia is illegal and against federal law because drones are protected by the FAA. You could serve some jail time or pay a large fine if you shoot down a drone in West Virginia. You are advised to report it to the authorities if you see a drone hovering above you or your property.

Final Thoughts on West Virginia Drone Laws

West Virginia has wonderful scenery you can explore with your drone for recreational or commercial purposes. However, you need to abide by the drone laws set by the FAA, your state government, and local authorities in that city to enjoy a hassle-free flight.

You should also check out the best places to fly a drone in West Virginia if you want to see beautiful places that are legal to fly in various cities.

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