FAQs | Utah Back Country Pilots Association

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I allowed to fly my drone in the backcountry?

Depends. If you are in a Wilderness Area, no. The Wilderness Act of 1964 prohibits the use of mechanized equipment such as bicycles, motorized vehicles, or drones. While the designations of our public lands change, it is imperative that as drone operators you verify that your intended operations are conducted outside of these areas. Wilderness Connect is a great resource for that information. If you’re at non-wilderness airstrip, the FAA states “when flying in these areas, remote pilots and recreational flyers must be aware of and avoid traffic patterns and takeoff and landing areas. A drone must not interfere with operations at the airport must yield right-of-way to all other aircraft.” Drone regulations continue to evolve and vary based on your operation (Part 107, recreationally, etc). Be advised the FAA’s B4UFLY application does not depict wilderness areas nor contain all the rules and exceptions for operating drones. When in doubt, please do your homework before launching your drone so as to not put pilots or our access to the backcountry in jeopardy.

Is it legal to land on roads?

A recurring question that honestly has too many factors to make a simple yes or no. And even when it may be permissible, pilots have encountered local law enforcement when observers report aircraft operating in "strange and conspicuous manners". If there’s a need for you to operate off a road, we strongly suggest you do your homework to learn who owns the road, maintains the road, and the obvious if the road is safe for operation..

Can I land on gravel bars around the state?

Depends. The Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands (State Lands | Utah DNR – FFSL (Forestry, Fire and State Lands) manages many of the "previously submerged" lands of many Utah waterways, and would be a great point of contact to inquire as to whether your intended operations are permissible. In the past, we’ve asked them for a map that shows where operations are permissible and were told it is "not that easy to discern" so we suggest you head to their website and contact them to determine that.

Can I land on the shore of the Great Salt Lake?

In the past we’ve been told that motorized vehicles were permitted on the formerly submerged lands of the Great Salt Lake and at the time of writing the regulations have seemed to change. Generally speaking, the soil density of the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake is insufficient to keep an airplane upright, and we strongly advise against attempting to land on the lakebed.