Unmanned Aircraft Systems


Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are rapidly becoming major users of national airspace. Commonly referred to as “drones,” unmanned aircraft come in a variety of shapes and sizes and seemingly have a near infinite number of uses.

Regardless of aircraft type, the responsibility to fly safely applies equally to all manned and unmanned aircraft operations. In order to promote safety, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established regulations pertaining to the operation of UAS.

​The following links are provided to educate UAS users, communities, airports, and law enforcement on their role and responsibilities pertaining to the operation of UAS within the National Airspace System. It is important to note that the regulations pertaining to unmanned aircraft continue to evolve. Visit FAA.gov/UAS for the most up to date information.


Aircraft - any contrivance invented, used, or designed to navigate, or fly in, the air. Both the federal government and State of Wisconsin recognize all unmanned aircraft as aircraft.

Unmanned Aircraft (UA) - an aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft. Also known as drones, UAVs, and model aircraft.

Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) - the unmanned aircraft and all of the associated support equipment, control station, data links, telemetry, communications and navigation equipment, etc., necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft.

Resources for UAS pilots

Recreational Fliers
Example users: private individuals flying strictly for hobby or recreational purposes. Users must not be compensated, and flights must not support commercial activities.

Example activities: Flying for fun, educational purposes, amateur photography

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Commercial Operators
Example users: Realtors, insurance companies, utility companies, professional photographers

Example activities: property inspections, commercial photography, commercial videography, aerial surveying

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Public Safety and Government
Example users: state and local agencies, law enforcement, fire departments

Example activities: Firefighting, search and rescue, surveillance

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Educational Users
Example users: Universities, colleges, schools

Example activities: aerospace education and research

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Relevant Wisconsin State Statutes

114.002(3) Definitions.
114.02 Sky Sovereignty.
114.04 Flying and landing, limitations.
114.05 Damages by aircraft or spacecraft.
114.045 Limitation on the operation of drones.
114.09 Intoxicated and reckless flying; penalty.

State Statutes Specific to Unmanned Aircraft

175.55 Use of Drones Restricted.
941.292 Possession of a Weaponized Drone.
942.10 Use of a Drone.

Resources for Law Enforcement

Public Safety and Law Enforcement Toolkit