VA – Virginia

Flag courtesy of Wikipedia

Interior view of the Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport, located in Northern Virginia. The enormous structure is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

Photo courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

Virginia government website just for reference.

VADOT website just for reference.

Virginia Legislature in case more laws were written since this book was published.

Map courtesy of Wikipedia

Google Earth

Last updated on June 7, 2024


In addition to checking the FAA UAS Facility Map or B4UFLY or SkyVector or Google Maps one should consider also FAA JO 7400.10F – Special Use Airspace which is an order, published yearly, providing a listing of all regulatory and non-regulatory special use airspace areas, as well as issued but not yet implemented amendments to those areas established by the FAA.

Special Use Airspace consists of airspace of defined dimensions identified by an area on the surface of the earth wherein activities must be confined because of their nature, or wherein limitations are imposed upon aircraft operations that are not a part of those activities, or both. The vertical limits of special use airspace are measured by designated altitude floors and ceilings expressed as flight levels or as feet above MSL. Unless otherwise specified, the word “to” (an altitude or flight level) means “to and including” (that altitude or flight level). The horizontal limits of special use airspace are measured by boundaries described by geographic coordinates or other appropriate references that clearly define their perimeter. The period of time during which a designation of special use airspace is in effect is stated in the designation. All bearings and radials in this part are true from point of origin. Unless otherwise specified, all mileages in this part are stated as statute miles.

Restricted Areas: No person may operate an aircraft within a restricted area between the designated altitudes and during the time of designation, unless they have the advance permission of:

(a) The using agency described in § 73.15; or

(b) The controlling agency described in § 73.17.

These using agencies may be the agency, organization, or military command whose activity within a restricted area necessitated the area being so designated. Upon the request of the FAA, the using agency shall execute a letter establishing procedures for joint use of a restricted area by the using agency and the controlling agency, under which the using agency would notify the controlling agency whenever the controlling agency may grant permission for transit through the restricted area in accordance with the terms of the letter. The using agency shall:

(1) Schedule activities within the restricted area;

(2) Authorize transit through, or flight within, the restricted area as feasible; and

(3) Contain within the restricted area all activities conducted therein in accordance with the purpose for which it was designated.

For the purposes of this part, the controlling agency is the FAA facility that may authorize transit through or flight within a restricted area in accordance with a joint-use letter issued under § 73.15.

Prohibited Areas: No person may operate an aircraft within a prohibited area unless authorization has been granted by the using agency. For the purpose of this subpart, the using agency is the agency, organization or military command that established the requirements for the prohibited area.

Military Operations Areas: A Military Operations Area (MOA) is airspace established outside of Class A airspace to separate/segregate certain nonhazardous military activities from IFR traffic and to identify for VFR traffic where these activities are conducted. Activities. MOA’s are established to contain certain military activities such as air combat maneuvers, air intercepts, acrobatics, etc.

Alert Areas:  Airspace which may contain a high volume of pilot training activities or an unusual type of aerial activity, neither of which is hazardous to aircraft.

Warning Areas: A non regulatory warning area is airspace of defined dimensions designated over international waters that contains activity which may be hazardous to nonparticipating aircraft. The purpose of such warning areas is to warn nonparticipating pilots of the potential danger. Activities may be hazardous.

National Security Areas: A national security area (NSA) consists of airspace of defined vertical and lateral dimensions established at locations where there is a requirement for increased security of ground facilities. The purpose of such national security areas is to request pilot cooperation by voluntarily avoiding flight through the NSA. When circumstances dictate a need for a greater level of security, flight in an NSA may be temporarily prohibited by regulation under the provisions of 14 CFR Section 99.7, Special Security Instructions. Such prohibitions will be issued by FAA Headquarters and disseminated via the US NOTAM System.





Crewed Aircraft in your Airspace


Lastly, if you want to be informed about crewed aircraft flying in the vicinity of your drone operation, you can always check with apps like FlightAware or ADS-B Exchange



Virginia § 5.1-5

§ 5.1-5

Registration of aircraft.

A. Every resident of the Commonwealth owning a civil aircraft, every nonresident owning a civil aircraft based in the Commonwealth for more than 90 days during any calendar year, and every owner of an aerial application aircraft operating within the Commonwealth or of a civil aircraft operated in the Commonwealth as a for-hire intrastate air carrier shall register such aircraft with the Department before such aircraft is operated in the Commonwealth. Any owner of an unmanned aircraft as defined in § 19.2-60.1 shall not be required to register such aircraft.

B. The Department shall provide for the issuance, expiration, suspension, and revocation of aircraft registration in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Board. For the purposes of the tax imposed pursuant to Chapter 15 (§ 58.1-1500 et seq.) of Title 58.1, including any credit granted pursuant to § 58.1-1504 against such tax, such aircraft registration shall be considered the licensure required by such chapter. The Department shall furnish any necessary forms pursuant to the issuance of such registration and may assess a fee for such issuance not in excess of $5 annually. The Department may, in lieu of issuing aircraft registration required by subsection A, issue commercial aircraft registration to air carriers and commercial dealers and issue to noncommercial dealers noncommercial dealer fleet registration, to cover all aircraft owned by such dealers and all aircraft for sale held by dealers on a consignment basis from an aircraft manufacturer. The Department may assess a fee not in excess of $50 annually for any such noncommercial dealer fleet registrations issued and a fee not in excess of $100 annually for any such commercial fleet registrations issued. The fee for a commercial single aircraft registration shall not be in excess of $10 annually.

C. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A, no aircraft shall be required to be registered if the aircraft is brought into the Commonwealth solely for major maintenance or major repair. An aircraft owner shall provide proof that the aircraft is based at an airport in another state, shown by evidence of a hangar or tie-down lease for a minimum of 12 months prior to the aircraft being brought into the Commonwealth, and proof of the work being performed in the Commonwealth, shown by presentation of invoices that describe such work.

Virginia § 15.2-926.3

§ 15.2-926.3

State Preemption

Local regulation of certain aircraft.

A. No political subdivision may regulate the use of a privately owned, unmanned aircraft system as defined in § 19.2-60.1 within its boundaries.

B. Notwithstanding the prohibition of subsection A, a political subdivision may, by ordinance or regulation, regulate the take-off and landing of an unmanned aircraft, as defined in § 19.2-60.1, on property owned by the political subdivision. Such ordinance or regulation shall be developed and authorized in accordance with the rules and regulations promulgated by the Department of Aviation (the Department). Such rules and regulations shall be in accordance with federal rules and regulations and shall include a process for adoption of an ordinance or regulation, exemptions to the ordinance or regulation, political subdivision training, and notification requirements. The political subdivision shall report to the Department any ordinance or regulation adopted pursuant to this section, and the Department shall publish and update annually on its website, and any other website the Department deems appropriate, a summary of any such ordinance or regulation adopted.

C. Nothing in this section shall permit a person to go or enter upon land owned by a political subdivision solely because he is in possession of an unmanned aircraft system if he would not otherwise be permitted entry upon such land.

D. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit (i) the take-off or landing of an unmanned aircraft by a commercial operator in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, or as deemed reasonable or necessary by private or public entities for emergency or maintenance support functions or services, including the protection and maintenance of public or private critical infrastructure; (ii) the landing of an unmanned aircraft by an operator in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations as deemed reasonable or necessary by the operator in the event of a technical malfunction of an unmanned aircraft system; (iii) the take-off or landing of an unmanned aircraft being operated by a sworn public safety officer in the performance of his duties; or (iv) the take-off or landing of an unmanned aircraft owned or operated by the United States government, or any operator under contract with any agency of the United States government, in performance of his assigned duties.


Virginia § 18.2-121.3

§ 18.2-121.3

Trespass with an unmanned aircraft system; penalty.

A. Any person who knowingly and intentionally causes an unmanned aircraft system to (i) enter the property of another and come within 50 feet of a dwelling house (a) to coerce, intimidate, or harass another person or (b) after having been given actual notice to desist, for any other reason, or (ii) take off or land in violation of current Federal Aviation Administration Special Security Instructions or UAS Security Sensitive Airspace Restrictions is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

B. This section shall not apply to any person who causes an unmanned aircraft system to enter the property as set forth in subsection A if (i) consent is given to the entry by any person with legal authority to consent or by any person who is lawfully present on such property or (ii) such person is authorized by federal regulations to operate an unmanned aircraft system and is operating such system in an otherwise lawful manner and consistent with federal regulations.

Virginia § 18.2-324.2

§ 18.2-324.2

Use of unmanned aircraft system for certain purposes; penalty.

A. It is unlawful for any person who is required to register pursuant to § 9.1-901 to use or operate an unmanned aircraft system to knowingly and intentionally (i) follow or contact another person without permission of such person or (ii) capture the images of another person without permission of such person when such images render the person recognizable by his face, likeness, or other distinguishing characteristic.

B. It is unlawful for a respondent of a protective order issued pursuant to § 16.1-279.1 or 19.2-152.10 to knowingly and intentionally use or operate an unmanned aircraft system to follow, contact, or capture images of the petitioner of the protective order or any other individual named in the protective order.

C. A violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Virginia § 19.2-60.1

§ 19.2-60.1

Use of unmanned aircraft systems by public bodies; search warrant required.

A. As used in this section, unless the context requires a different meaning:

“Unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

“Unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned aircraft and associated elements, including communication links, sensing devices, and the components that control the unmanned aircraft.

B. No state or local government department, agency, or instrumentality having jurisdiction over criminal law enforcement or regulatory violations, including but not limited to the Department of State Police, and no department of law enforcement as defined in § 15.2-836 of any county, city, or town shall utilize an unmanned aircraft system except during the execution of a search warrant issued pursuant to this chapter or an administrative or inspection warrant issued pursuant to law.

C. Notwithstanding the prohibition in this section, an unmanned aircraft system may be deployed without a warrant (i) when an Amber Alert is activated pursuant to § 52-34.3; (ii) when a Senior Alert is activated pursuant to § 52-34.6; (iii) when a Blue Alert is activated pursuant to § 52-34.9; (iv) where use of an unmanned aircraft system is determined to be necessary to alleviate an immediate danger to any person; (v) by a law-enforcement officer following an accident where a report is required pursuant to § 46.2-373, to survey the scene of such accident for the purpose of crash reconstruction and record the scene by photographic or video images; (vi) by the Department of Transportation when assisting a law-enforcement officer to prepare a report pursuant to § 46.2-373; (vii) for training exercises related to such uses; (viii) if a person with legal authority consents to the warrantless search; or (ix) by a law-enforcement officer to (a) aerially survey a primary residence of the subject of the arrest warrant to formulate a plan to execute an existing arrest warrant or capias for a felony offense or (b) locate a person sought for arrest when such person has fled from a law-enforcement officer and a law-enforcement officer remains in hot pursuit of such person.

D. The warrant requirements of this section shall not apply when such systems are utilized to support the Commonwealth or any locality for purposes other than law enforcement, including damage assessment, traffic assessment, flood stage assessment, and wildfire assessment. Nothing herein shall prohibit use of unmanned aircraft systems for private, commercial, or recreational use or solely for research and development purposes by institutions of higher education and other research organizations or institutions.

E. Evidence obtained through the utilization of an unmanned aircraft system in violation of this section is not admissible in any criminal or civil proceeding.

F. In no case may a weaponized unmanned aircraft system be deployed in the Commonwealth or its use facilitated in the Commonwealth by a state or local government department, agency, or instrumentality or department of law enforcement in the Commonwealth except in operations at the Space Port and Naval/Aegis facilities at Wallops Island.

G. Nothing herein shall apply to the Armed Forces of the United States or the Virginia National Guard while utilizing unmanned aircraft systems during training required to maintain readiness for its federal mission or when facilitating training for other U.S. Department of Defense units.

Virginia § 58.1-609.10

§ 58.1-609.10

Miscellaneous exemptions.

The tax imposed by this chapter or pursuant to the authority granted in §§ 58.1-605 and 58.1-606 shall not apply to the following:

  1. Artificial or propane gas, …


  1. Beginning July 1, 2018, and ending July 1, 2025, parts, engines, and supplies used for maintaining, repairing, or reconditioning aircraft or any aircraft’s avionics system, engine, or component parts. This exemption shall not apply to tools and other equipment not attached to or that does not become a part of the aircraft. For purposes of this subdivision, “aircraft” shall include both manned and unmanned systems. However, for manned systems, “aircraft” shall include only aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of at least 2,400 pounds.

4 Va. Admin. Code § 5-30-400

4 Va. Admin. Code § 5-30-400

No person shall voluntarily land or unlawfully operate within or upon any park, any airplane, remote control model aircraft, helicopter, unmanned aerial system, drone, balloon, parachute, or other apparatus for aviation. “Voluntarily” in this connection shall mean anything other than a forced landing. Rescue and evacuation aircraft are exempt for emergencies and approved training exercises.

Prince William County Sec. 14-5

Prince William County Sec. 14-5

Prohibitions generally.

The following acts are violations of this chapter:

(1) Sounding a horn or other signaling device on any motor vehicle except as an emergency or danger warning signal.

a. Operating or causing to be operated a public or private motor vehicle or motorcycle on a public right-of-way at any time in such a manner that the sound level emitted by the motor vehicle or motorcycle, when measured at a distance of 50 feet or more, exceeds the level set forth in the following table:

Sound level in dBA
Vehicle Class Speed limit 35 MPH or less Speed limit over 35 MPH
All motor vehicles of GVWR or GCWR of 6,000 lbs. or more 86 90
Any motorcycle 82 86
Any other motor vehicle or any combination of vehicles towed by any motor vehicle 76 82

b. This section shall not apply to any motor carrier vehicle engaged in interstate commerce.

[(2)] Operating, loading or unloading any vehicle, including but not limited to trucks, or the opening and destruction of bales, boxes, crates and containers in the outdoors in zones other than industrial within 100 yards of a lawfully occupied dwelling between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

[(3)] Operating or causing to be operated between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. on weekdays and between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays observed by county government any equipment used in construction, repair, alteration or demolition work on buildings, structures, alleys or appurtenances thereto in the outdoors in any residential district within 100 yards of a lawfully occupied dwelling. This section shall not apply to construction of public projects, the repair or maintenance work performed on such projects or work performed by private or public utility companies for the repair of facilities or restoration of services.

[(4)] Using, operating or causing to be operated mechanical loud speakers or other sound amplification devices on trucks or other moving vehicles or in commercial establishments for the purpose of commercial advertising or attracting the attention of the public during the nighttime. The use of such at all other times shall be subject to the following conditions:

a. The only sounds permitted are music or human speech.

b. Sound shall not be issued or devices shall not be used within 100 yards of hospitals, schools, churches or courthouses.

c. The human speech and music amplified shall not be obscene.

[(5)] Operating or permitting to be operated any powered model aircraft in the outdoors during the nighttime. Any person desiring to use county parks or facilities to operate such aircraft at any time must first obtain permission from the park authority.

[(6)] The playing of radio, phonographs, television, tape or disc players, musical instruments or drums, sound amplifiers or similar devices which produce, reproduce or amplify sound in such a manner as to emit sound audible at a distance of 50 feet outside of a building or audible through partitions common to two or more residences within a building.

[(7)] Talking, yelling, shouting, screaming, singing, or any other form of human sounds produced by any person or group of people between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in such a manner as to be audible across property boundaries or audible through partitions common to two or more residences within a building.

[(8)] Playing, operating or permitting to be operated, any radio, tape player, compact disc player, loud speaker or other electronic device used for the amplification of sound, which emits sound within a motor vehicle being operated or parked on a public street alley, parking lot open to the public, or public park, and which emits sound audible from outside the motor vehicle at a distance of 50 feet or more. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to motor vehicle alarms or other security devices, the emission of sound for purposes of alerting persons to the existence of an emergency, or the emission of sound in performance of emergency work.

Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC) Policy

Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC)

​The Virginia Unmanned Systems Center at VIPC is the nexus for Virginia’s activity in UxS – Land, Air, Sea, and Space. The Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation is the primary source for information, grants, partnerships, and seed funding for UxS in the Commonwealth.

As a major part of Governor Ralph Northam’s “Comprehensive Economic Development Policy for the Commonwealth”, Virginia is actively seeking to expand and diversify industries in Virginia – with special attention to the UAV and Unmanned Systems industry.

On May 11, 2017, VIPC launched their UxS initiative named Virginia Unmanned Systems Center at VIPC. The Center serves as a unified voice and central source for information and assistance related to the unmanned systems landscape in Virginia. The Virginia Unmanned Systems Center at VIPC team members are charged with building on the rich assets and business climate to make Virginia “THE” state for unmanned systems.

The Center is responsible for instilling an entrepreneurial culture regarding Autonomous Systems across Virginia, encourage economic growth across the Commonwealth via Autonomous emergent business activities, and continue and increase the Commonwealth’s position as a leader of the Autonomous Systems community.

York County Sec. 17-20

York County Sec. 17-20

Potentially dangerous recreational games and activities; confined to designated areas.

(a) No person shall take part in activities involving thrown or otherwise propelled objects such as balls, golf balls, stones, frisbees, arrows, javelins or other recreational equipment except in areas set apart for such forms of recreation, or where such activities will not interfere with the safety, activities and enjoyment of others. This prohibition shall be effective irrespective of the order of arrival of those using general public areas which are not designed to accommodate specific types of recreational activities.

(b) No person shall fly or control from a public area any type of airborne equipment, including, but not limited to, model airplanes (radio- and wire-controlled) and hot air balloons, without a permit from the appropriate governing official.

University Drone Policies

University of Virginia

Note: This list is just a sample… many more could be added.

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)

Virginia Department of Aviation – AAM

2022 – DOAV and VIPC Organize an Alliance to Plan for a New Phase of Air Transportation in Virginia

2023 – FAA Approves Nation’s First Public-Use Vertiport in Blackstone, Virginia

2024 – Virginia Takes Action to Prepare Airport Infrastructure for Advanced Air Mobility

2024 – Beta Technologies, Signature Aviation to Install Electric Aircraft Chargers at 3 Airports



Short Essay Questions


You have been hired by a Drone Startup Company. Your boss has immediately assigned this job to you.

They need you to prepare a one-page memo detailing the legalities of inspecting the runways with your drone at Washington Dulles International Airport, pictured above.

They need you to mention any state laws and local ordinances.

They specifically want to know what airspace you will be operating in, and whether or not you need an airspace authorization, with or without LAANC capability.

Lastly, there is a bonus for you if, as you scroll through this chapter, you find any typos or broken links!

Question 2

Do the state drone laws implicate the First Amendment? If so, describe, citing the exact law.

Question 3

Do the state drone laws implicate the Fourth Amendment? Or involve law enforcement officers obtaining warrants? If so, describe, citing the exact law.

Question 4

Do the state drone laws contain a preemption clause? If so, describe, citing the exact law.

Question 5

Does the state have UAM/AAM laws? If so, describe, citing the exact law.

Question 6

Are you aware of any new laws or policies not mentioned above? If so, describe, citing the exact law or policy.





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Drones Across the World Copyright © 2023 by Sarah Nilsson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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