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Drones today are well known for a variety of uses. They can be used for anything from transporting heavy objects/items to taking aerial photographs. According to the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA, the sales of drones have grown from 2.5 million units in 2016 to 7 million units in 2020. This is a 180% rise in the sales of drones within the span of just 5 years. This goes to show us the ever-growing popularity of drones.
Although drones come in many sizes, makes and functionalities, most people are known to associate drones with aerial photography. Today’s drones do have the ability to give us jaw-dropping aerial photographs and many of them can travel up to a mile away while taking photographs or cinema-grade footage from locations which would not be possible for us to get to physically.
Drones have no other real alternatives when it comes to taking aerial photographs. Although some drones are expensive gadgets yet the near alternatives they have are far more expensive like taking a ride on a helicopter or a private plane. So drones are well known to take professional quality photographs and help in research through surveillance of an area or subject from far away in the sky.
Since The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic bridge and its surrounding areas are popular tourist destinations, it is naturally obvious that you might want to take aerial photographs of the Golden Gate Bridge or areas surrounding it, but can you?
Unfortunately flying drones near or over the Golden Gate Bridge is prohibited by law. If you were to be caught flying your drone in the vacuity you would likely get it confiscated as well as possibly face multiple fines.
Of course there are many reasons why you can’t fly your drone near the bridge which we will cover in the rest of this article as well as give you ideas where you can use your drone and still capture great pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge (at least for now).
If you would like to see what kind of footage you could possible get near the Golden Gate Bridge check out the video below.
Reasons why flying drones are prohibited near Golden Gate Bridge
- The Golden Gate Bridge is a very busy roadway, and flying drones over it could cause a distraction to commuters and result in accidents.
- Drones can face technical difficulties and drop from the sky resulting in pedestrian accidents as well.
- Drones can cause traffic congestion on the already crowded condition of the bridge if it malfunctions and drops from the sky.
- Drones can collide and crash with birds and other wildlife flying above the bridge and cause harm to them and also to commuters traveling on the bridge below.
If drones are found to be flying near or above The Golden Gate Bridge, they are very likely to be confiscated and the operator of such drones would be identified and can be prosecuted. So beware of flying drones near or above The Golden Gate Bridge unless you have permission from the appropriate authority to do so.
Special permission for taking commercial use films or photographs
Although filming or taking photographs by flying drones is not allowed near or above the Golden Gate Bridge, you can still capture commercial use footage, film or photos by getting a permit or location agreement from the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.
This request must be submitted 30 days in advance and it should be noted that just applying for such permits does not automatically entitle you to one. If you do eventually manage to get a permit for taking commercial use films or photographs then do not forget to check out the Federal Aviation Administration of FAA pre-flight checklist from their website. This will ensure that your drone has a safe flight and that you do not face any untoward or unexpected incidents or accidents.
Taking aerial photographs of Golden Gate Bridge
Although the Golden Gate Bridge areas are a no-fly zone you can still take aerial photographs of the Golden Gate Bridge from Blue Park which is located on Yerba Buena Island on the San Francisco Bay. It has some stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and its surrounding areas and as well as the San Francisco city skyline.
Aerial photographs are always a joy because of the beauty and the landscape they can capture and if you want to take stunningly beautiful aerial photographs of The Golden Gate Bridge you will need to make sure you have followed the proper guidelines and information provided in this article.
The Golden Gate Bridge
The land on which the Golden Gate Bridge stands is part of the Golden Gate National Park. The National Park Service is responsible for managing the different national parks and the land areas which fall under its jurisdiction. So according to the laws of the United States of America, the National Park Service is responsible for managing the Golden Gate National Park and they have decided on prohibiting the flying of drones and other unmanned aircraft in any national park including The Golden Gate National Park.
So this effectively means you are legally bound not to fly any type of drone above or near the Golden Gate Bridge which stands on and is part of the land and property of the Golden Gate National Park.
The Golden Gate National Park includes 80,000 acres of land from Stinson Beach to the Marin Headlands, and flying drones across this entire landscape are prohibited.
The Golden Gate Bridge Highway and transportation district which is in charge of managing the bridge also prohibits the flying of drones on or above the Golden Gate Bridge. They have many reasons in the best interest of the public to do so and some of those reasons were mentioned earlier in this article.
Can you fly a drone in San Francisco?
Now that we’ve covered that you can’t fly a drone near the Golden Gate Bridge we should discuss a little bit about drone usage in San Francisco in general.
Recreational drones are actually allowed to be used in San Francisco because the drone use falls under the FAA regulations however drones are prohibited from taking off in certain places in the city which can make the law a little confusing.
Basically the city of San Francisco has said that you can’t take off from parks in the city but the FAA says that you CAN fly there (as long as you follow the other FAA rules). What that leaves is a giant mess to be honest!
Obviously the FAA has control over where drones can and cannot fly but by San Francisco saying where drones cannot take off from they are actually prohibiting flying which goes against the FAA rules.
So all of that to say… according to San Francisco you can’t take off in any park and according to the FAA you can’t fly over any people or traffic. So in a place like San Francisco that really only leaves Yerba Buena Island (Treasure Island) to try and capture so images of the city with your drone or getting permission for private land.
I hope this article has been helpful in answering your questions about flying your drone at the Golden Gate Bridge as well as flying in San Francisco in general.
Ultimately you have to check the current laws anywhere that you fly a drone because they are constantly changing all of the time!