Word About Town

Read These Rules Before Flying Your Drone in Park City

The strings attached to the hottest tech toy since the GoPro.

By Adam Spencer December 14, 2016 Published in the Winter/Spring 2017 issue of Park City Magazine

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Drones may take excellent aerial photography, but think twice before you bring yours up on the mountain.

Image: Ross Downard

Drones are the future—there’s no denying that. Soon, these flying robots will be performing tasks ranging from delivering us more stuff from Amazon to pollinating crops.

But in terms of video and photography production, the future of drones is now. All that’s required to fly a hobbyist drone (weighing 55 pounds or less) is registration with the FAA. But before you hatch plans for a video series of you and your friends getting first tracks at Park City Mountain Resort or Deer Valley, be forewarned: recreational drone use within both ski area boundaries and base areas is not allowed.

But what about somewhere like Main Street or over a back patio hot tub in Old Town? The rules governing drone use inside the Park City limits are, as of press time, a bit murky. “Since Park City doesn’t have any current unmanned aerial vehicle–specific codes, we go by the FAA rules, which prohibit flights over groups of people,” says Tommy Youngblood, special events coordinator for Park City Municipal. “If there’s an incident or an issue, the police would handle that. But our target is to not regulate anyone we don’t have to.”

A nearby place that’s ideal for legal recreational drone flights is the High Uintas Wilderness, a tract of US Forest Service land popular with backcountry skiers and snowshoers located about 30 miles east of Park City. Here you can buzz the skies to your heart’s content. And who knows? If you lose your gloves while filming your friends ripping it up in the Uintas, chances are that someday soon you’ll be able to get Amazon to drop a new pair from the sky, courtesy of a drone.

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