You just bought your drone (or got it for a while now) and you’ve explored all there is to it in the Western skies. The African scenery is waiting for you. But what should you think about? How do you take your drone on an airplane and where are you allowed to fly your drone in South Africa?
Fly, drone, fly!
Before you get to South Africa you have to fly yourself to Cape Town or Johannesburg. Depending on the type of drone you’ve got and the capacity of the batteries you can (or can’t) take your drone in your carry-on baggage. With our DJI Mavic Pro and KLM as carrier we didn’t have any issues. As long as the lithium batteries don’t exceed 100Wh you’re fine to take them with you on the plane. Do make use of a battery bag to ensure that they are safe during the flight. For a detailed overview of what you’re allowed to take with you please consult this link. Another to thing to think about is what flight route you’re taking. We were on a direct flight from Amsterdam to Johannesburg. If you do have a stopover in a country were drones are illegal (e.g. Kenya) you might consider leaving your drone at home or put it in your checked baggage.
Where can(‘t) I fly my drone in South Africa?
Maybe you’ve used the last few hours on the plane to check out some of these amazing landscapes down in South Africa. Before you actually do that please check the places where you’re allowed to launch your drone. You can use this Google Maps link or download the Hover app. We normally use a combination of multiple ‘No Fly Zones’ maps since sometimes there can be a bit of difference between these sources.
While these maps are really helpful just using your common sense also helps. Therefore:
– Don’t launch your drone near (within 10 kilometers) from an airplane or in a ‘controlled, restricted of prohibited’ airspace.
– Don’t launch your drone within 50 meters from any group of persons or properties.
– Definitely do not use your drone in a National Park!
Do I need a drone license in South Africa?
As long as you don’t do anything commercial with your drone footage and your drone doesn’t exceed the 7 kilo weight limit you don’t need a license. A more detailed explanation can be found on the South African Civil Aviation Authority website. It’s worthwhile reading this website anyway before flying your drone in South Africa to make sure you’re completely up to date.
A few tips
Think of the shots you definitely want to make while you’re in this beautiful country. The Drakensberg mountains are stunning just like the coastal areas. The Karoo is that empty that this will definitely result in some great shots. If you do fly near or over the ocean please take the ‘gusts’ into account that can come up all of a sudden. That’s how I nearly lost my drone ;)! Please do enjoy your trip in real life as well and do look away from your phone to just suck up this amazing scenery!