Policy of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle/Systems/Aircraft Guidelines in Parks

Section 1.  Purpose

The Town of Wake Forest Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department (PRCR) recognize that operating Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle/Systems/Aircraft (sUA - V/S) presents as a popular recreational activity.

The PRCR Department with assistance from the Recreation Advisory Board (RAB) evaluated properties within the park system to determine which may be conducive for sUA (V/S) crafts to take off and land from. It was determined that flying sUA (V/S) would not be a compatible use for all areas within the parks system specifically those classified as “nature preserves,” “nature parks” or “wetland centers” or appropriate for lakes solely owned, managed or leased by the Town of Wake Forest or PRCR.

This policy identifies specific park locations for sUA (V/S) crafts to take off and land from. To launch or land a sUA (V/S) within the park system, all pilots must abide by the operating regulations outlined in this policy. The list of acceptable sUA (V/S) is not all-inclusive and other sUA (V/S) may be added in the future. 

All fireworks & explosives are prohibited at all times unless the event is sponsored by the Town/PRCR Dept. The term sUAS, small Unmanned Aerial System, will include all remotely piloted craft commonly referred to as drones, remote planes, unmanned aerial vehicles, and unmanned aerial systems.


Section 2.   Policy

Operating Regulations

Persons operating an sUA (V/S) within park system properties shall:

  1. comply with all applicable local, state and federal laws;

  2. not operate while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs;

  3. not take off or land sUA (V/S) in parks outside of designated park hours;

  4. not operate to harass wildlife or members of the public.

In addition to these regulations, those operating model rocketry must:

  1. Observe and abide by the National Association of Rocketry Safety Code and Safety Zone Requirements;

  2. not launch in unsafe weather conditions or when wind speeds are greater than 20 miles per hour;

  3. ensure launch sites have a diameter of at least 400 feet free of any obstructions, including trees, structures, play equipment and should be level;

  4. operate a safe distance from park users (20’ minimum);

  5. utilize single rocket engines size “A” or “B”; and

  6. be responsible for disposing of all trash associated with the activity.

sUA (V/S) less than or equal to 400 grams (.88 pounds) may take off from or land only at the designated property - Smith Creek Soccer Center, 609 Heritage Lake Road. sUA (V/S) larger than 400 grams (.88 pounds) may take off and land from the designated areas of the park. (must maintain at least 20’ distance from other park visitors) sUA (V/S) larger than 7000 grams (>15 pounds) and capable of speeds of 70 miles per hours must receive permission from PRCR in advance of taking off from or landing in the designated area of the park. Model rocketry activity may also take place in designated areas of the park.


Smith Creek Soccer Center
Click on image to view larger version

Designated Property - Smith Creek Soccer Center, 609 Heritage Lake Road

PLEASE NOTE: sUAS operations cannot interfere with primary use of the fields.  Reserved/Organized activities have priority.

View designated take-off & landing sites


List of acceptable UA(V/S)
  • Drones

  • Model Airplanes

  • Model Helicopters

  • Rockets

  • Model Parachutes

The designated areas of Smith Creek Soccer Center offers non-exclusive use to sUA (V/S) pilots, meaning the fields or spaces while available for sUA (V/S) flying, may also be used by other park patrons at the same time.

sUA (V/S) are prohibited when the space is in use for programmed activities (games, practice, rentals, special events and all other activities sponsored or co-sponsored by the Town or its partners)

All sUAS flights are only allowed during normal park hours and when it will not interfere with other visitors to the park or reserved use of the fields. sUAS usage will still be covered by all other rules for access to parks including but not limited to weather closings, construction closing, etc.   If any Town of Wake Forest employee, including but not limited to Wake Forest Police Department, asks the Remote Pilot in Command to land, they will land as soon as it’s safe in a safe manner, following all FAA regulations, and then if needed cease flight operations. 

The facility may not be rented for exclusive use for sUA (V/S).

No sUA (V/S) drone racing event” will be allowed at the Smith Creek Park Soccer Center. A drone racing event is defined as two (2) or more sUA (V/S) participating in a speed-based competition for prizes, awards or compensation that requires navigating around a course made up of flags or other manmade objects.

sUA (V/S) which become entangled in the trees, or land on roofs or structures of PRCR buildings and are no longer able to operate must be reported to PRCR within 24 hours

No person shall climb trees or structures to reclaim a lost sUA (V/S).

No sUAS may take off or land from properties designated as “nature preserves,” “nature parks,” “wetland centers” or cemeteries or lakes.

All users shall follow all regulations from the FAA. If the regulations conflict, whichever is stricter will be followed.  It is always the responsibility of the RPIC or model rocket user to ensure everyone else’s safety, and if there is doubt about the ability to fly safely, (high wind, large crowds, etc) the choice should always be for safety.

These guidelines, or any portion thereof, may be waived at the discretion of the Town.

This list may be subject to change. Additional sUA (V/S) locations may be added at the discretion of the department Director at a future date.


Unmanned Aircraft System (Drones)

  • Drones have a complicated set of rules and regulations that create liability for the owner, user, and pilot. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which oversees regulations, is currently revising Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) and the guidelines in this document may be subject to change before the Town policy is updated again. All drone pilots assume all the responsibility of understanding what the FAA changes may be and what FARs regulate their flight activity.  FAA rule updates for commercial and recreational pilots can be found at https://www.faa.gov/uas/

  • All drones that weigh more than .55 pounds with batteries installed and with any flight payload, must be registered with the FAA through https://faadronezone.faa.gov and those aircraft must be marked on the outside of the drone with the FAA registration number. Pilots must carry proof of registration for presentation on-demand.

  • No drone flight will be permitted for anything other than recreational purposes. Wake Forest designated flight areas are in FAA Class G airspace and flight up to 400 feet above ground is permitted under the following conditions. The pilot must maintain visual line-of-sight with the drone at all times and be able to tell, without assistance other than with eyeglasses or contacts, the orientation of the drone and maintain collision avoidance with other aircraft or physical items. Drones may not fly over people or private property. First Person View (FPV) goggles or devices are not permitted unless the pilot has a co-located Visual Observer, (VO) as defined by the FAA, and the VO is communicating with the pilot to maintain line-of-sight with the drone in flight.

  • The FAA is currently developing an Aeronautical Knowledge and Safety Test that all recreational pilots will be required to take and pass. Pilots will have to carry proof of test passage it must be presented to an FAA Designee or Law Enforcement on request. More information is available at https://www.faa.gov/uas/recreational_fliers/knowledge_test_updates/

  • At the time of this policy, the FAA has yet to finally recognize any community-based-organization (CBO) that is a designated 501(c)(3) non-profit responsible for additional recreational flight rules.  But when such organizations are designated, they may have additional flight rules. The CBO rules you are flying under may require flight only at a CBO designated location. You will need to confirm the CBO rules you are relying upon to allow you to fly in Wake Forest designated location(s).

  • Recreational flyers must always remain aware that any operations endangering the safety of the National Air System (NAS) (particularly careless or reckless operations, those endangering persons or property, and/or those that interfere with or fail to give way to any manned aircraft) will be subject to FAA compliance action and substantial FAA fines.



Users who violate this policy may be asked to leave the park and may have privileges to take off and land their sUA (V/S) from the park system revoked. Park visitors who witness unsafe sUA (V/S) practices are encouraged to inform PRCR staff or contact the Wake Forest Police Department. The owner/user will be asked to return the sUA (V/S) to the ground prior to leaving the park. 

Emergency Management Exception

In the event of actual emergencies and training exercises the Town/PRCR has made exceptions for all emergency management unmanned aircraft systems for all functions and activities related to emergency management, including incident command, area reconnaissance, search and rescue, preliminary damage assessment, hazard risk management, and floodplain mapping.

Parental/Adult Supervision

sUA (V/S) pilots under 16 can only fly with parental/adult supervision.

Abandoned/Crashed sUA (V/S)

"All sUAS flown from Town properties must have the owners name and phone number visible on them in addition to any required FAA markings."   

FAA registered sUA (V/S) fliers shall submit a license number to the PRCR Dept. which would allow the Town to contact owners of any abandoned/crashed drones.  The Town/PRCR Dept. shall discard all sUA (V/S) if no contact information is available.

This policy will be reviewed annually once adopted.

Policy of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle/Systems/Aircraft Guidelines in Parks
PRCR Director