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Request a Flight

Duke’s campus is a vibrant and highly populated area. With near constant student activity, community events, a sprawling medical center, and a Life Flight heliport, requests to fly any type of aircraft must be carefully reviewed, and approvals will be heavily dependent on location and timing. Working closely with Duke Forest, Duke University has created two pre-approved locations, the Couch and Blackwood field sites, which are recommended for most drone needs. Requests to fly at the pre-approved locations will be handled more quickly and with greater likelihood of success. Please visit the Duke Forest website for more information about their property, event calendar, and teaching/research use forms.

Flight requests should be submitted at least one week in advance of the proposed flight. All flight requests must begin with the Duke Drone Flight Request Form. You must have a Duke NetID to make a flight request; if you are a third party vendor, your Duke sponsor (who is ultimately responsible for the flight) must make the request on your behalf. Requests will be reviewed for completeness and viability. Requests taking place in Duke Forest may be approved with minimal additional effort, provided that Forest staff have endorsed the date against possible conflicting events. Requests to fly on campus will be carefully scrutinized for risks they might pose. The following types of flights are generally NOT approved:

  • Student or hobbyist flights (except under the auspices of the Duke Academy of Model Aeronautics)
  • Private event photography, including weddings
  • Flights principally to the benefit of a third party entity rather than to Duke

Overhead look at a snowy day on West Campus at Duke University
West Campus. Photograph courtesy of Estlin Haiss