Flying drone within the confines of my garden

Hi all

A friend of mine wants to know if flying a drone, without a camera, entirely within the confines of his garden is breaching the drone code?

So they would be closer than 50m to their neighbour’s property, but never out of their own garden and staying low - 1-2m.

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If it does not have a camera that’s fine.

From CAA

In simple terms, these regulations state that:

  • you are responsible for flying your UAS in a safe manner
  • you must keep the UAS in your direct sight at all times while it is flying, so that you can ensure that it does not collide with anything, especially other aircraft
  • you must not endanger anyone, or any thing with your UAS, including any articles that you drop from it
  • you must not fly more than 400ft above the surface. If flying over hilly/undulating terrain or close to a cliff edge, this may be interpreted as being a requirement to remain within a distance of 400ft from the surface of the earth, as shown in the picture below
  • you must not fly within the Flight Restriction Zone of a protected aerodrome
  • if your UAS weighs more than 7kg, additional rules apply if you fly in certain types of airspace.

If your UAS is fitted with a camera, there are also a number of additional limitations surrounding where you can fly it, and how close you can fly it to other uninvolved people or objects. In order to be able to fly within these areas, or closer than the minimum distances that are in the regulations, you must obtain prior Permission from the CAA to do so.


And if it does have a camera, then the 50m distance rule applies, right?
In which case, even if he was flying entirely within his own garden, it would not be allowed?

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Not if he’s within 50m if people or property :slightly_frowning_face:


50m from people. 30m during take off and landing.
I live at one end of a village with open fields to the rear but in theory I can’t fly from my garden because my neighbours are less than 30m away and I cannot be more than 150m away from the village edge until I can fly out away from the village. (A village counts as a built up area). I would be legal once I get 150m out from the village edge, but legality would be questionable whilst getting there from take off in my garden. I believe that’s the strict interpretation of the rules - what do you think ?

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@esoarer That’s correct if your drone has a camera, but if no camera then see previous reply from @callum.

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If you got along with your neighbours and asked if it was okay to fly your drone from your garden and they were more than happy with your request, then technically they are no longer uninvolved people and become people under your control. Its a grey area but you can take off using the 30 metre rule assuming the pilot holds a PfCO to fly in a built up area.


Callum, I respect your position as a verified examiner but if I might raise the point that the CAA does, indeed, state that a drone should not be within a 50 mtr vicinity of any person (apart from the pilot) but it also states “anything” which would infer that it would not matter whether, or not, a camera was fitted to the drone in question. There would still be the risk of the drone colliding with a neighbour’s property.

For a drone with no camera.

Does the operator think the flight can be made safely?

(2) The remote pilot of a small unmanned aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made.

Keep it in sight! so you can make attempts to steer it safely.
Use with rule 2 above.

(3) The remote pilot of a small unmanned aircraft must maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purpose of avoiding collisions.

So, it’s got no camera and you can’t take pervy photo’s of the bird next door - tick.
You think you can fly it safely in the garden - tick
You believe you can see it at all times and if it is heading towards their sturdy shed you can fly it back - tick.

Crack on and have fun.


Where did you read this?

The air navigation order has different rules depending on if the aircraft is classed as an SUA (small unmanned aircraft or SUSA (small unmanned surveillance aircraft).

Article 94 covers all small unmanned aircraft and article 95 has extra restrictions for small unmanned surveilance aircraft.

Article 241 states
A person must not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property.

As long as your not flying recklessly or negligent the 50m rule does not apply but obviously some common sense does.


Who’s that question to Callum?


It’s quite easy to determine :

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There’s a thread about built up area here CAA definition of 'Crowds and built up areas'

Villages are unlikely to be regarded as a built up area.

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Not quite sure where I stand If I take off from my back garden - all of my neighbors within <=80m horizontally are totally cool with me flying from our back garden - all are technically within my control and have been to a safety briefing :slight_smile: - (Over a beer :beer: )

To be honest - they like watching me hoon about with the FPV quads rather than the M2 :smiley:

(I haven’t crashed yet…)

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I think your friend is worrying too much.

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So it turns out it does have a camera. So if he can’t get the neighbour to agree, he cannot fly it in his garden, even if it’s below the level of the fence, is that right?

Legally that is correct: legally you can’t fly within 50m of someone’s property outside your control (or anywhere at all within 150m of a town) without permission from the CAA (which you would only get if commercially qualified). Fine for a breach of the Air Navigation Order is anywhere up to £2,500, I believe.

In practice, it would be a pretty surprising situation for the police to get very bothered about flying within your own garden below fence height, even in the unlikely event it was reported to them. And there are plenty of people bending the rules way beyond that without having their collar felt.

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After receiving a complaint from the neighbourhood police about me flying a tiny little drone, (small enough to go in a pocket, ) in my garden and threatening a £2000 fine I e mailed the CAA directly to ask what the score was. They said I was not allowed to fly a pocket sized drone, even with no camera, in my garden if it was within 50 m of other properties. Even at just 3 or 4 feet from the ground. I don’t have the letter now but that was straight from the horses mouth so to speak. (And yes, I did have a really sh.tty bitch of a neighbour at the time who just liked to cause me grief.)

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