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

Wisconsin Drone Laws

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

Are drones allowed in Wisconsin?

It is legal to fly drones in the state of Wisconsin. It has federal, state, and local laws that govern the flying of drones in the state. However, Wisconsin state drone laws prohibit drone operations in state parks, over correctional facilities, and interfering with lawful hunting, trapping, and fishing of wildlife.

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

Federal Drone Laws In Wisconsin

The United States drone laws are the federal drone laws that apply to Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin

You can fly your drone for recreational purposes in Wisconsin 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.

Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin and the fifth-largest city in the Midwestern United States.
Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin.

Below are the federal rules to follow while flying your drone for recreational purposes in Wisconsin 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 with 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 Wisconsin

You can fly your drone for commercial purposes in Wisconsin 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.

Aerial view of Madison city downtown at sunset, Wisconsin
Aerial view of Madison city downtown at sunset, Wisconsin

Below are the federal rules to follow while flying your drone for recreational purposes in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin

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.

Green Bay is a city in and the county seat of Brown County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, at the head of Green Bay, a sub-basin of Lake Michigan
Green Bay is a city in and the county seat of Brown County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin.

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 Wisconsin

Downtown Green Bay Wisconsin city lights at twilight, drone view.
Downtown Green Bay Wisconsin city lights at twilight, aerial view.

These are drone laws that apply to the entire state of Wisconsin and were created by the Wisconsin Legislature.

Wisconsin has six state-wide laws governing the use of drones in the state that were put together by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the Wisconsin Legislature.

Wisconsin State Parks Admin Code Ch. NR 45.041

Wisconsin State Parks Ch. NR 45.041 prohibits drone use in all state parks, state recreation areas, state natural areas, the Kettle Moraine and Point Beach state forests, and the Lower Wisconsin state river way except areas designated for drone operations.

Wisconsin State Parks Admin Code also allows drone operations in a designated zone in the Richard Bong State Recreation Area after been granted special use permit from the park authorities

Senate Bill 338 (2015)

Senate Bill 338 prohibits using drones to interfere with lawful hunting, trapping, and fishing of wildlife.

Assembly Bill 670 (2015)

Assembly Bill 670 prohibits drone operations over correctional facilities.

175.55 Use of Drones Restricted

This law prohibits Wisconsin law enforcement agencies from using drones to gather evidence without obtaining a search warrant.

941.292 Possession of a Weaponized Drone

This law prohibits weaponizing your drone in Wisconsin state.

942.10 Use of a Drone

This law prohibits photography, recording, or observing another individual with your drone in a place where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Local Drone Laws In Wisconsin

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

Waukesha County

Waukesha County drone laws require a permit to fly a drone in any Waukesha County park. The permit is valid for one year from the purchase date. The no-charge application process can be done online.

Kenosha County

Kenosha County drone laws prohibit operating or possessing any remote-controlled or self-propelled aircraft or other airborne devices in any county park.

Breathtaking Autumn colors in neighborhood foliage, aerial flyover.
Breathtaking Autumn colors in neighborhood foliage, aerial flyover.

City of Hudson

Hudson drone laws prohibit the use of drones to invade personal space, including observing, photographing, or recording people in places where there should be a reasonable expectation of privacy.

City of Chetek

Chetek drone laws create a Height Limitation Zoning Map around the Chetek Municipal Airport. Drone pilots are expected to comply with this zoning map with regards to their maximum altitude.

City of Green Bay

Green Bay drone laws prohibits drone flight below 400 feet altitude within the designated boundaries of a special event during the scheduled time of the event.

Town of Greenfield

Greenfield drone laws restrict drone operations in a number of ways, including prohibiting landings within 100 feet of people, flying within 500 feet of crowds of more than 100 people, and flying in a way that puts people or property in danger.

University of Wisconsin – La Crosse

University of Wisconsin – La Crosse requires obtaining permission before using a drone on University of Wisconsin-La Crosse property, and a checklist must be completed. Hobbyists or third-party operators need liability insurance. At least 100 feet must separate drones from the structure.

Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin Canal Waterfront with sailboats, bridge and tugboats, aerial view.
Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin Canal Waterfront with sailboats, bridge and tugboats.

University of Wisconsin – Whitewater

University of Wisconsin–Whitewater contains the following policy for drone operations:

  • Any university worker or student intending to use a UAS on university grounds or property as part of their work or study has to get in touch with the risk management office of the institution. Such activities need to be carried out with the appropriate license or exemption and are not regarded as hobbies.
  • Drone operators from outside the university must obtain permission from the risk management division before using their equipment over university grounds or property.
  • All drone operators are required to provide proof of liability insurance.
  • Drones must not be used for surveillance or recording in places where there is a justifiable expectation of privacy.

Western Technical College

Western Technical College drone laws state that only educational, institutional, or contractor drone operations are permitted at Western Technical College. Liability insurance for contractors working on projects for the college will be necessary.

Where there is a legitimate expectation of privacy, drones may not be used to record or observe. Restrooms, locker rooms, residential rooms, changing rooms, childcare centers, and medical treatment rooms are some examples. Additionally, critical institutional or private information must not be monitored or recorded using them.

Frequently Asked Questions on Wisconsin Drone Laws

Can you fly a drone over private property in Wisconsin?

You can fly a drone above a house or private property in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin without a license?

Recreational drone pilots don’t need a license to fly a drone in Wisconsin, 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 Wisconsin.

Can you shoot down a drone in Wisconsin?

Shooting down a drone in Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin. You are advised to report it to the authorities if you see a drone hovering above you or your property.

Final Thoughts on Wisconsin Drone Laws

Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin if you want to see beautiful places that are legal to fly in various cities.

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