HelicopterFilming in California

Below you will find information on the use of helicopters and UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) in California, including special rules for helicopter landings on school property, flying over metropolitan Los Angeles and San Francisco and filming over State-owned property.


The State of California has a law governing take-off and landing of helicopters at any K-12 schools: no helicopter may land or depart in any area within 1,000 feet, measured by air line, of the boundary of any public or private school maintaining kindergarten classes or any classes in grades 1 through 12, without approval of Caltrans Division of Aeronautics.*

Applications must be submitted a minimum of 14 business days prior to the landing.

To coordinate a landing or for further information, contact:
Dan Gargas at 916.654.5222 or Dan.Gargas@dot.ca.gov

* Public Utilities Code Section 21662.5 and California Code of Regulations Title 21, Section 3532(c).


City of Los Angeles: Any aerial filming within Los Angeles city limits must be reported to the Los Angeles Police Department's Air Support Division.

Please contact LAPD Air Support Division for any questions or to report filming: Mark Bolanos at 213.485.2600 / 323.493.2291 (cell) / 26192@lapd.lacity.org

San Francisco:

The San Francisco Police Department must be contacted for any aerial filming under 500 feet: 415.553.0123.


A) All Fixed Wing Aircraft and Helicopters Flying at Any Height

1) A Certificate of Insurance must be submitted evidencing a minimum of $5,000,000 in liability coverage indemnifying the State of California (go to http://www.film.ca.gov/Permits_Insurance.htm for more details).

2) A copy of the pilot's Plan of Activity (POA) approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is always required before the CFC will release a permit. All pilots must have a current Certificate of Waiver for Motion Picture and Television Filming. The CFC may request a copy of the Certificate before issuing a permit.

B) Special Conditions for Helicopters Flying Below 500 Feet

1) ITC (intermittent traffic control), enforced by CHP, will always be required for all sections of the road impacted by low-level flying. FAA 52-4 (#9) states that a Waiver for flying lower than normal is only granted with respect to persons, vehicles and structures directly involved in the performance of actual filming.Flight operations over a group of non-essential persons at less than 1,000 feet AGL (above ground level) are prohibited.

2) Contact State Fire Marshal Film Liaison Ramiro Rodriguez for his approval at least five days in advance of any helicopter activity.

3) When landing and/or refueling on state property at a non-certified landing site, the State Fire Marshal requires a water truck and Fire Safety Officer from the local authority having jurisdiction. The State does not permit refueling or reloading of a helicopter on or adjacent to state roads without permission from both the local Caltrans Inspector and the State Fire Marshal.

4) When landing and/or refueling on private property the CFC recommends that you obtain approval from the local fire authority having jurisdiction.