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Texas State Capitol question (Austin, TX)

RRDC Media

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Hi guys,

I'd like to take some cool videos from the Texas State Capitol but I understood that I can't fly over the Texas Capitol ground, see below.

When I check AirMap or OpenSky it looks like I do not need permission to fly in that area. I also tried to put in a request through OpenSky and it looks like it's really not needed, see below
Screenshot_20230317_173604_OpenSky.jpg

I don't want to break any rules and I know there are many experts here so do I or do I not need permission to fly here? And if I do, how do I get it?

Thanks,
Ricardo
 
The way I read their regulations is that they "The City of Austin allows the use of UAS for filming." If the drone is used for commercial work under Part 107 you have to get permission. "All commercial UAS flights are required to complete the Austin Police Department Special Events Unmanned Aerial Operations Request..." However, since you're talking about the Texas State Capitol there may be additional security measures in place and I wouldn't be surprised if you were approached by LE
 
The way I read their regulations is that they "The City of Austin allows the use of UAS for filming." If the drone is used for commercial work under Part 107 you have to get permission. "All commercial UAS flights are required to complete the Austin Police Department Special Events Unmanned Aerial Operations Request..." However, since you're talking about the Texas State Capitol there may be additional security measures in place and I wouldn't be surprised if you were not approached by LE
I'm flying recreational. Is there a way to find out for sure before I fly? The website says it's restricted but all apps show it as non-restricted
 
I would certainly approach the local police or state police at the capitol in person before trying to fly there, even if I was given permission from someone offsite beforehand.
If you are flying recreational I don't think you will have success trying to fly there. ( persons on the property will probably be their reason)
Being the state capital you would probably need some kind of paperwork and that means you would need a 107 cert -- OR Even Harder- a Certificate of waiver, and you would have to get that from state I would think.
BUT you never know --Talk to them onsite or call them directly
 
Last edited:
I'm flying recreational. Is there a way to find out for sure before I fly? The website says it's restricted but all apps show it as non-restricted
Check the FAA for any restrictions. As you are flying recreationally, you should be good to go, as the FAA are the only ones that can regulate the airspace. [providing you take-off/land outside the property]
 
Hi guys,

I'd like to take some cool videos from the Texas State Capitol but I understood that I can't fly over the Texas Capitol ground, see below.

When I check AirMap or OpenSky it looks like I do not need permission to fly in that area. I also tried to put in a request through OpenSky and it looks like it's really not needed, see below
View attachment 161703

I don't want to break any rules and I know there are many experts here so do I or do I not need permission to fly here? And if I do, how do I get it?

Thanks,
Ricardo
According to the link you provided the Capitol Grounds are included in their NFZ list. This means you cannot operate the drone while on the property. That said, you would find it difficult to produce satisfying video footage and maintain VLOS as also required by their regulations as well as the FAA. Daytime ops would very likely incur a lot of pedestrian traffic there and now that we have to use an approved CBO flying over/near people now follows the same guidelines as §107.

My opinion is that you may find it to be an obstacle, unless you discuss this with the proper authorities beforehand. There may be a time period where few or no people are around that you may be allowed to fly and obtain the photos/video you want, but that is probably unlikely.
 
I would certainly approach the local police or state police at the capitol in person before trying to fly there, even if I was given permission from someone offsite beforehand.
If you are flying recreational I don't think you will have success trying to fly there. ( persons on the property will probably be their reason)
Being the state capital you would probably need some kind of paperwork and that means you would need a 107 cert -- OR Even Harder- a Certificate of waiver, and you would have to get that from state I would think.
BUT you never know --Talk to them onsite or call them directly
I was planning on doing that indeed as there is always a police truck on the grounds. I was just hoping to have clarity before then. There's not that many pedestrians on the ground usually so I think I could counter that argument, especially flying a bit on the side part of the Capitol
 
Check the FAA for any restrictions. As you are flying recreationally, you should be good to go, as the FAA are the only ones that can regulate the airspace. [providing you take-off/land outside the property]
I can't find anything on the FAA site about it (or the apps) but it's difficult maintaining VLOS outside of the grounds
 
According to the link you provided the Capitol Grounds are included in their NFZ list. This means you cannot operate the drone while on the property. That said, you would find it difficult to produce satisfying video footage and maintain VLOS as also required by their regulations as well as the FAA. Daytime ops would very likely incur a lot of pedestrian traffic there and now that we have to use an approved CBO flying over/near people now follows the same guidelines as §107.

My opinion is that you may find it to be an obstacle, unless you discuss this with the proper authorities beforehand. There may be a time period where few or no people are around that you may be allowed to fly and obtain the photos/video you want, but that is probably unlikely.
I've been there dozens of time and there are actually not that many pedestrians at all usually and I could go early in the morning to even make it less. The grounds are big and especially on the sides there is nobody there. I'll stop by and will ask the cops that are present
 
while its nice everyone is weighing in on what to do, the REAL/CORRECT answer is to reach out to the TX department of Public Safety Region VII at the Capital complex and get a definitive answer. They are the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) and enforce the rules there.

ANY government building like this is likely classified as a security area and as such it is not likely you will get the permission that you seek. That being said, you never know until you ask.

DO NOT attempt to overfly or enter the zone identified as being in a security area, as I have no doubt you will lose your aircraft and likely face some unpleasant legal issues.

Call and ask:

Patrol Lieutenant Region VII
Texas DPS Patrol & Security Operations

1500 N. Congress Ave., Suite 204,
P. O. Box 13126
Austin, TX 78711-3126
Office Phone: (512) 936-2210
Fax: (512) 305-9136
 
while its nice everyone is weighing in on what to do, the REAL/CORRECT answer is to reach out to the TX department of Public Safety Region VII at the Capital complex and get a definitive answer. They are the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) and enforce the rules there.

ANY government building like this is likely classified as a security area and as such it is not likely you will get the permission that you seek. That being said, you never know until you ask.

DO NOT attempt to overfly or enter the zone identified as being in a security area, as I have no doubt you will lose your aircraft and likely face some unpleasant legal issues.

Call and ask:

Patrol Lieutenant Region VII
Texas DPS Patrol & Security Operations

1500 N. Congress Ave., Suite 204,
P. O. Box 13126
Austin, TX 78711-3126
Office Phone: (512) 936-2210
Fax: (512) 305-9136
Perfect, I'm giving them a call on Monday
 
while its nice everyone is weighing in on what to do, the REAL/CORRECT answer is to reach out to the TX department of Public Safety Region VII at the Capital complex and get a definitive answer. They are the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) and enforce the rules there.
The only rules they can enforce are land use rules. They cannot stop anyone from flying over the capital grounds.
ANY government building like this is likely classified as a security area and as such it is not likely you will get the permission that you seek. That being said, you never know until you ask.
To reiterate., they can only classify the grounds are a security area.
DO NOT attempt to overfly or enter the zone identified as being in a security area, as I have no doubt you will lose your aircraft and likely face some unpleasant legal issues.
If they confiscate your drone, they are opening themselves up to illegal seizure laws. If there is no evidence of a crime committed (as stated above, simply and safety flying over isn't a crime), they cannot take your drone.
Call and ask:

Patrol Lieutenant Region VII
Texas DPS Patrol & Security Operations

1500 N. Congress Ave., Suite 204,
P. O. Box 13126
Austin, TX 78711-3126
Office Phone: (512) 936-2210
Fax: (512) 305-9136
 
while its nice everyone is weighing in on what to do, the REAL/CORRECT answer is to reach out to the TX department of Public Safety Region VII at the Capital complex and get a definitive answer. They are the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) and enforce the rules there.

ANY government building like this is likely classified as a security area and as such it is not likely you will get the permission that you seek. That being said, you never know until you ask.

DO NOT attempt to overfly or enter the zone identified as being in a security area, as I have no doubt you will lose your aircraft and likely face some unpleasant legal issues.

Call and ask:

Patrol Lieutenant Region VII
Texas DPS Patrol & Security Operations

1500 N. Congress Ave., Suite 204,
P. O. Box 13126
Austin, TX 78711-3126
Office Phone: (512) 936-2210
Fax: (512) 305-9136
The REAL/CORRECT answer is to contact the FAA if you have a question about where you can or cannot fly. ONLY the FAA controls airspace. It's my understanding that local and state agencies can limit where you can launch from but once you launch from a place that is legal only the FAA can determine what airspace is legal or not legal. If you launch from a place that is legal and the FAA does not designate the airspace as restricted you are, from everything I have been able to read, operating legally. No government building can classify the airspace above it as off limits to drones. If you look at B4UFLY/AirData you will see prisons and other such places as forbidden to drone overflight. If the area in question is NOT marked as such by the FAA it is legal to fly over it. That doesn't mean that a pilot might not be harassed or even arrested but people being arrested illegally is nothing new. IANAL so don't depend on my understanding in court :).
 
Perfect, I'm giving them a call on Monday
Make sure your call is to just inform them, and not ask for permission. At least if you're not flying from their property. If you are flying from their property, you do need permission.
 
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I've seen numerous videos of the TX State Capital, so I know 100% that people do it. If you're still concerned, maybe contact one of those folks and see what hoops, if any, they had to jump through. That said, I'm in agreement with those here that have told you that a) Don't take off from the grounds.
As an aside, I was filming the new skyscraper on 6th and Guadalupe the other day and was approached by an Austin LEO just as the drone was up around 1,000 :) I was fearing the worst, but he was just curious what I was filming. He looked over my shoulder for a few minutes and said, "That's so cool!" That was it. He wished me a good day and went on his merry way. Please post the video when you fly :)
 
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Make sure your call is to just inform them, and not ask for permission. At least if you're not flying from their property. If you are flying from their property, you do need permission.
Ideally I would like to launch from the grounds as that's easier. I'll see what they say
 
I've seen numerous videos of the TX State Capital, so I know 100% that people do it. If you're still concerned, maybe contact one of those folks and see what hoops, if any, they had to jump through. That said, I'm in agreement with those here that have told you that a) Don't take off from the grounds.
As an aside, I was filming the new skyscraper on 6th and Guadalupe the other day and was approached by an Austin LEO just as the drone was up around 1,000 :) I was fearing the worst, but he was just curious what I was filming. He looked over my shoulder for a few minutes and said, "That's so cool!" That was it. He wished me a good day and went on his merry way. Please post the video when you fly :)
That's actually a good idea and I will send some of them a message. I'm working on a drone compilation from Austin and everybody has been friendly and interested over the last couple of weeks. I'll share once it's final, I still want some good shots of Zilker (and perhaps the capitol) but I got to wait for SXSW to be over first
 

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