Drone User Information



The City of South Lake Tahoe supports the safe operation of drones for recreational use and commercial purposes. Coordination is a must. There are many areas around the airport that are not safe to fly drones due to manned aircraft at low altitudes.

Please use the website link below to determine where you can fly in South Lake Tahoe. A value of “0” means you cannot fly in that particular area without FAA authorization. The values on the map indicate maximum elevation above ground level. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the airport directly.

Click here to access the interactive FAA UAS Data Map

Recent Federal Regulations on UAS 

On April 21, 2021 the Final Rule on UAV Remote Identification, Operations Over People and Moving Vehicles, and certain night operations when into effect.  Airspace authorizations are still required for night operations in controlled airspace under 400 feet.  This includes most of the South Shore of Lake Tahoe which lies under Class E Airspace associated with the Lake Tahoe Airport (TVL).  

Remote identification (Remote ID) requires identification of drones in flight as well as the location of their control stations or takeoff point. It provides crucial information to our national security and law enforcement partners, and other officials charged with ensuring public safety. Airspace awareness reduces the risk of drone interference with other aircraft, people and property on the ground.

The Operations Over People rule applies to pilots who fly under Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. The ability to fly over people and over moving vehicles varies depending on the level of risk a small drone operation presents to people on the ground.  This rule allows operations at night under certain conditions. Prior to flying under the new provisions, a remote pilot must pass the updated initial knowledge test or complete the appropriate updated online training course, which will be available on April 6, 2021. 

The Operations Over People rule requires that remote pilots have their remote pilot certificate and identification in their physical possession when flying. It also expands the class of authorities who may request these documents from a remote pilot. The final rule replaces the 24 calendar month requirement to complete a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test with the requirement to complete updated online recurrent training that includes the rule’s new provisions.

The public can review both the Remote ID Rule  and Operations Over People Rule in the Federal Register.



On May 17, 2019, the FAA started implementing Section 349 and 350 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. On May 31, 2019, the FAA published Advisory Circular 91-57B.

FAA Advisory Circular 91-57B

Please consult Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular 91-57B for the latest regulations effecting recreational drone users.  

There is no recreational drone operations permitted in Class E restricted airspace surrounding the Lake Tahoe Airport.  This effects some locations inside the City and in El Dorado County.  Do not contact the Airport Manager regarding permission to fly inside restricted Class "E" Airspace.  The airport manager cannot authorize drone flights inside this airspace. Please consult the FAA UAS Data Map for airspace restrictions surrounding the South Shore of Lake Tahoe and environs.

Notable Changes in Regulations Starting May 31, 2019 for Recreational Drone Users.  Information Provided by Rupprecht Attorneys at Law:

  • The recreational flyer must pass a test and keep proof of passing the test to show to FAA or law enforcement. The test will cover the recreational drone laws.
  • Must obtain authorization prior to flying in B, C, D, or E at the surface associated with an airport airspace and complies with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions.  Recreational Flyers will need to do so using the FAA LAANC System.
  • Recreational aircraft have to be registered and marked. Have to show registration to FAA or Local Law Enforcement if asked.
  • Flown strictly for recreational purposes.
  • The aircraft is operated in accordance with or within the programming of a community-based organization’s set of safety guidelines that are developed in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • Flown within the visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft or a visual observer co-located and in direct communication with the operator.
  • Does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft.
  • Unmanned aircraft, which includes model aircraft, cannot interfere with wildfire suppression efforts, law enforcement, or emergency response efforts. See 49 U.S.C. Section 46320 and 18 U.S.C. 40A
  • It’s a crime to fly in runway exclusion zones without authorization. See 49 U.S.C 39B. 
  • It’s also a crime to fly knowingly or recklessly interfering with, or disrupt the operations of, a manned aircraft in a manner that poses a imminent safety hazard to the occupant(s). See 49 U.S.C 39B.

Source: "New FAA Recreational Drone Laws, May 2019"; Rupprecht Attorneys at Law.  https://jrupprechtlaw.com/recreational-drone-laws#coa; downloaded on June 26,2019

FAA primary source for UAS regulations and information can be found at Know Before You Fly

State of California Regulations 

According to the California Department of Transportation and the California General Assembly, California has three state-wide laws concerning the use of drones in the state.

SB 807 // 2016

This law provides immunity for first responders who damage a UAS that was interfering with the first responder while he or she was providing emergency services.

AB 1680 // 2016

This law makes it a misdemeanor to interfere with the activities of first responders during an emergency.

AB 856 // 2015

This law prohibits entering the airspace of an individual in order to capture an image or recording of that individual engaging in a private, personal or familial activity without permission. This legislation is a response to the use of UAS by the press in covering celebrities and other public figures.

All drone pilots operating commercially in the state of California are subject to the FAA’s Part 107 rules.

For information on drone flying and safe drone operation, please visit the following links:

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI):

FAA and Partners Education Campaign

FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems

FAA Videos on YouTube

Academy of Model Aeronautics

Academy of Model Aeronautics National Model Aircraft Safety Code (PDF)

Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Publications, Report 144, Unmanned Aircraft Systems at Airports (PDF)

For the public to file a complaint about illegal drone activities with the Federal Aviation Administration use this link: File Drone Report

All drones between 0.55 lbs and 55 lbs must register with the Federal Aviation Administration use this link: Drone Registration Form

Tons of your questions are answered in this FAA FAQ

Current Laws Governing the Operation of UAS by the Federal Government: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Regulations & Policies

Federal Aviation Administration UAV/Drone Guidance for Law Enforcement (Click Here to Open PDF)

Contact Information for Questions Regarding Federal Control of the National Airspace System in California & Nevada. 

Western-Pacific Region Office of the Regional Counsel
P.O. Box 92007 Los Angeles, CA 90009
Tel: (310) 725-7100 (Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada)

Contact Information for Filing a Complaint about a Pilot Flying an Aircraft/Drone in an Unsafe Manner 

Reno Flight Standards District Office

5466 Longley Lane

Reno, Nevada 89511

Tel: (775) 858-7700 / Fax: (775) 858-7737