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  • Writer's pictureDan Oshier

Flying a Drone at U.S. National Historic Landmark

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

Let me begin by saying that I am a FAA-licensed (part 107), UAS (drone) operator. I follow the rules and regulations precisely, as this ever-growing industry has become my specialty and part of my livelihood. I also want to say to the aspiring pilots looking to fly around U.S. National Historic Landmarks, BE SURE TO FOLLOW THE RULES!

Operating a drone (UAS), in or above a U.S. National Historic Landmark is prohibited by the FAA. These areas are protected and are high-traffic for pedestrians and vehicles. The last thing anyone needs is a rogue drone crashing into some historic building and then careening into an unsuspecting crowd causing damage and injuries. Once again, respecting the rules and flying safe should always be first and foremost to any pilot. Though they are small, a drone can cause damage and injuries, even when operated correctly by an experienced pilot. As the number of drones operators increases, the need for ensuring the skies remain safe is the first hurdle. This burden is that of the drone pilot, drone manufacturers, and the FAA. The pilot is the first cog in the wheel. The drone manufacturers and the FAA have implemented strict, geo-fenced, no fly zones above and around U.S. National Historic Landmarks. Without FAA authorization, the drone simply will not take off in, or fly into these zones.

I recently was hired to film aerial video of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - USA. This landmark is protected from drone operations directly over and around the vicinity. A remarkable historic prison, it held notorious criminals such as Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton inside its innovative wagon wheel design. At its completion, the building was the largest and most expensive public structure ever erected in the United States, and quickly became a model for more than 300 prisons worldwide.

The prison is currently a U.S. National Historic Landmark, which is open to the public as a museum for tours seven days a week, twelve months a year, 10 am to 5 pm.

With clearance from the FAA to operate in this flight zone, I orbited the building filming video and scanning for 360 photos. Flight duration 20 minutes, altitude (max) 240 feet.

Looking for a Professional Drone (UAS) Operator?

I have been operating a drone professionally for over 8 years around Buffalo, NY and across the USA. I've filmed some AMAZING locations and done some pretty interesting jobs with my drone from Netflix, CBS, to the NFL, I've been fortunate to work with some of broadcast media's best!


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