Don't zone out with your drone out: SA's no-drone zones

2018-02-28 06:30 - Saara Mowlana
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Cape Town - It's not uncommon to see picturesque drone pics grace the scrolling screen of your Instagram feed. Drone hobbyists the world over have found themselves intrigued by the magnificent bird eye views of certain vistas, like mountain ranges and coastlines, the results of which can be absolutely breathtaking. 

SEE THE Top 20 most incredible drone shots of the world

Like with cameras and cellphones, certain areas restrict or limit the use of filming or photography without a permit, and these same rules apply to drone photography. However, because of the features of a drone, the likelihood of feeling like you're trespassing is less obvious - even though you can face arrest if you violate these laws.

READ: SANParks reminder: Flying drones at parks will lead to arrest

So, where exactly can't you zone out and drone out around SA?

Well, for starters, any one of these lovely drop pins:

The above map exists as a guide only, and must not be seen as conclusive. It remains the responsibility of the pilot to ensure that their flights are legal and safe. For more information, please visit the SACAA's website, or contact them directly. Map sourced via Action Gear

CHECK OUT: SACAA to crack down as illegal drone usage 'more than doubles' in SA

As for other restricted areas, this is what the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) classifies as "no-fly zones" for hobbyist drone pilots.

 Where not to fly your drone:

  • Near manned aircraft
  • 10 km or closer to an aerodrome (an airport, helipad or airfield) (can be seen on map above)
  • In controlled, restricted or prohibited airspace, which includes: Near crime scenes, courts of law or prisons, near Power Stations (can be seen on map above) and near National Key Points (can be seen on map above)
  • In any SANParks controlled National Park, such as Table Mountain National Park, Kruger National Park and all other National Parks (can be seen on map above)

Keep your drone at least 50m away from the following at all times:

  • Any person or group of persons (like sports fields, road races, stadiums, schools, social events, etc.)
  • All public roads
  • Any property without permission from property owner

Only fly your drone in daylight and clear weather conditions.

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SANParks says that drone use is prohibited in these areas in terms of National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) Protected Areas Act which states that "it is illegal to fly below 762 metres above the highest point of any national park, with any aircraft/ drone without the express permission of the Management Authority of the particular National Park."

If drone usage is irresponsible or illegal it not only puts the flyer at risk of being arrested, but can also put wildlife and other visitors under stress. 

"Flying such aircraft illegally in the Park can negatively impact on the well-being of animals as well as the experience of other visitors; to such an extent that it can end up disturbing and stalking animals," says Kruger National Park’s General Manager Communications and Marketing, William Mabasa.

"We encourage all law-abiding citizens to continue to report such incidents to the Emergency Call Centre numbers 013 735 4064 / 013 735 0197 / 076 801 9679 so that these people can be caught in the act," he adds.

So unless you have a permit or are Google maps, its best to stay in the clear and out of restricted air. If you really wish to snap these off-limit areas - don't be a hermit, go out and get a permit, otherwise it's best to curb it.

Plan your trip: