Are drones allowed on Mackinac Island?

[Note: Permission is needed from both the City of Mackinac Island and Mackinac State Historic Parks to operate a drone on Mackinac Island.]

Some of the most striking photographs of Mackinac Island’s gorgeous landscape have been taken from above, by helicopter, plane and even drone. However, drones are only allowed on Mackinac Island with special permission. Otherwise, violators may be fined.

Whether you just received your first drone for a birthday gift and want to try it out in one of the world’s most beautiful places or you’re a professional videographer who incorporates aerial footage into your work, you can’t just send a drone up into the air on Mackinac Island. You first must apply for a permit with the Mackinac Island State Park Commission AND the City of Mackinac Island. You must also inform the Mackinac Island Police Department ahead of time.

If you would like to get approval for flying a drone on Mackinac Island, please first call the City of Mackinac Island at 906-847-3702 and Mackinac State Historic Parks at 231-436-4100. Just know that permission is rarely granted, and violators may be fined.

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A public service announcement about horses being startled by drones, which require a permit to use on Mackinac Island.

Why Drones Need Special Permission on Mackinac Island

Why is a permit required, you might ask? Well, there are two primary reasons that Mackinac Island wants to be careful about the use of drones:

 

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A drone view of downtown Mackinac Island and the boats in the harbor

Who Gets Permission to Fly Drones on Mackinac Island?

If you see a drone on Mackinac Island, it’s likely being operated by one of four professional groups spelled out in the city rules:

  • a news organization
  • an insurance company, for purposes of assessing damages
  • a public utility that’s performing maintenance
  • law enforcement

It also could be a photographer or videographer documenting the incredible natural splendor of Mackinac Island from above with prior permission.

But in every case, a permit is needed before flying a drone on Mackinac Island. And violators will be fined. So, please keep that in mind when visiting and seek permission in advance.

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