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Drones, model airplanes and other hobby aircraft are now free to take flight at some James City County parks.
Operators must register their unmanned aircraft systems with the Federal Aviation Administration if they weigh more than 0.55 pounds and they must carry registration documents on their person when flying aircraft.
FAA guidelines for safe operation must be followed. Unmanned aircraft are permitted at the following parks and can be used according to specific guidelines:
- Chickahominy Riverfront Park, located at 1350 John Tyler Highway. Users must stay 25 feet from the campsites, pool and playground.
- Freedom Park, located at 5537 Centerville Road. Users must stay 25 feet from the playground and Go Ape! ziplines.
- Upper County Park, located at 180 Leisure Road in Toano. Users must stay 25 feet from the playground and pool.
Nancy Ellis, JCC parks administrator, said the parks we selected based on their proximity to airports, availability of large open fields and whether park staff were available to monitor the use of unmanned aircraft systems.
Operators have flown unmanned aircraft at Mid County Park, but it is not one of the parks where systems are permitted because the park is within a 5-mile radius of the Williamsburg Jamestown Airport, Ellis said.
For more information, residents can call the JCC Department of Parks and Recreation at 757-259-5360.