Why Are There Drones Flying At Night? Read In Detail

Why Are There Drones Flying At Night? You might have seen flying drones at night in the sky. Most of the time these are government drones or military drones flying at night. 

Even sometimes photographers or cinematographers want to take some night shots and they also fly drones in the sky at night.

So, can you fly a drone at night? If you have noticed that sometimes drones are flying did you know whose drone is this? Why they are flying. How these drones look like at night. How lighting drones help to spot a drone in the sky at night.

A lot of questions right? I am Anisha from inforevz, going to answer everything you need to know about flying drones at night. 

Additionally, I will be sharing the rules and laws of flying drones and a few interesting facts about drones.

Table of Contents

Well my dear friend, did you fly any drones before? if not no worries. Let's discuss a few basic things about flying drones high in the sky.

What Is Drone & How do Drones Fly?

Drone is an unmanned aircraft like robot which is controlled remotely and can be tracked through a smartphone with GPS. Drones are also called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Most of the drones contains a HD camera to capture still images and videos to get a bird's eye view.

People used to fly drones for capturing photos, aerial views and sometime it's just a hobby to fly a drone. After drones got mass production Police, FBI, Military and other law enforcement team started using drones for surveillance.



Mostly, a drone has 4 rotors (it's a 2D image so the other 2 rotors are not visible) which helps a drone to fly, balance in the air, and control its speed. Rotor are consist of propellers where two of the propellers rotate clockwise and the other two anticlockwise. 

This helps the drone to balance in the air. There is a landing gear that includes an altimeter and accelerometer to measure the speed, direction, and altitude.

When the rotors move, it produces an upward force greater than the gravitational pull force and it flies. The logic behind this is not as simple as I wrote but I hope you understood a bit about how drones fly.

So it's time to get back to our topic "drones flying at night". You must have noticed drones are flying at night but did you ever ask yourself why they are flying? What's the reason. 

If you are interested to know why this happens let's read in detail. 

Why are there drones flying at night?

Surveillance is the primary reason to fly drones at night so far. FBI, Military, Law enforcement team often fly drones at night to keep the areas under surveillance. This is done to identify any unexpected incident that can be harmful for mankind.

Recently few rules have been changed and most videographers and cinematographers started flying drones to take night aerial shots which look amazing. Though the camera of drones is still not capable enough to take the best shots at night.

Most law enforcement agencies are flying drones at night to detect people or objects which might be invisible or hidden in the day time.

There might be different reasons for different groups to fly drones at night. Why not we get some idea of that as well.

Law enforcement Police drones flying at night

Law enforcement police use drones while patrolling at night. They use drones with thermal imaging technology because it allows them to see people or objects that are hidden from view during daytime. This is done specially for enforcing public safety laws such as curfew violations and hunting regulations.

Police can not reach to place within a second if any criminal offense occurs but with a drone it is easier to get a visualization of the place quickly.

On day time public events like concerts, meetings are a bit safe because visibility is high. But at night this kind of program becomes risky for general people due to criminals. To keep them under surveillance police uses drones at night.

Aerial Photography

When I was child I used to wish that if I could see the country on bird's eye but that was a dream that time. Now drone has been invented and magically the dream came true.


Well photographers like to take some long exposure shots at night. With night vision drone camera now it's possible to take those shots in aerial view which comes out incredible. See the above picture taken by Mavic Air and it looks just WOW. Photographers now uses drones at night to take some beautiful shots and this is really amazing.

Night Shots By Cinematographers

Not only photographers but also cinematographers started including night aerial shots in their cinemas, short films, or documentaries. Especially night aerial shots are now commonly being used in cinema and documentaries.

Mostly the scenes require huge public gatherings or a car race inside the city that comes out amazing while taken with drone camera from the sky. People love to see dynamic scenes nowadays and these are being done through drone cameras.

Sporting Events

Do you love cricket or football. Did you ever notice that drones are being used to broadcast the game from top of the sky. Drones are being used to track the balls, showing large crowds from top in the stadium and obviously ball movement in the air.

Sports events are nowadays mostly depending on drones to make the live broadcast more dynamic and eye catchy. In IPL (Indian Premier League), Big Bash, drones are being used to show scenes from a different portion of the stadium which is not possible with cameras because it is costly to setup lot of cameras here and there in the stadium and this can not move freely as well.

Government drones at night

In 2022, Government has taken different initiatives to strengthen the security and safety of the public property. Latest FAA rules has allowed drones flying at night and that is the reason the government is taking the chance to keep their secure surveillance even at night

Military drones flying at night

Military uses UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicle) for keeping their surveillance over the border of the country to make sure there is no security concern from other countries or sometimes they use to keep an eye on the border to know every detail of what is happening there.

Borders are always the country's first priority place to ensure top security. Addition of drones already been helping the military team to keep a virtual eye on the border all the time with the help of drones. Now after the permission from FAA now they can secure these crucial places at night even without being there physically.

Night vision drones are the best companion for them at night to watch with clarity. Anyways these are the facts behind military drones flying at night. 

Can I fly a drone at night?

Yes, you can fly a drone at night but make sure you are following the rules and regulations declared by FAA. Make sure you are flying drones at night for a valid purpose and you are not going to involve any criminal activity. Also, make sure you are not overlooking others' privacy.

There are few rules to flying a drone at night. I am going to discuss this so that you know all the rules of flying drones at night and day as well.

Confused? Why am I mentioning day and night? Because there are different rules for flying drones at night. Keeping the confusion aside let's know about FAA rules and regulations for flying drones.

FAA Rules for Drones

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has introduced some laws and regulations for the drone flyers so that it doesn't go uncontrolled and the aviation eco system doesn't get messed up. UAVs might distract flights so this is not like that anyone can fly a drone however he/she want.

If you are an enthusiast to fly drones in the sky for the first time and have a plan to fly this at night time as well you need to create a Part 107 account FAA DroneZone.

Here you need to register your drone to the US inventory and also register yourself as an UAV pilot.

Purpose of flying drones: There are usually 2-3 types of category and you need to choose one according to your purpose of a flying drone.

Categories are-

a. Educational b. Recreational c. Government/Surveillance purpose

For educational purposes, you may not require to comply with Part 107 (rules for flying UAVs under 55 pounds). You can fly your drone for learning purposes where you need to comply with all portions of section 44809 including rules for recreational purposes.

Let's have a look on the rules for a flying drone for recreational purposes.

  • You are flying drone for recreational purpose (enjoyment)
  • Flying at night is permissible if your drone is equipped with position lights that are on.
  • Fly at or below 400 feet.
  • Make sure visual line-of-sight is maintained.
  • Mark your drone with your registration number.
  • Keep your drone within your visual line of sight.
  • Fly away from bystanders (at a minimum horizontal distance of 30 meters for basic operations) and away from other aircraft.
  • Fly UAS that weigh no more than 55 lbs. unless certified by proper authority from your country.
  • Do not fly while you have consumed alcohol.

Non-recreational purpose actually includes you are not allowed to take photos of property, events like school games and all to serve commercial requirement. In simple words you can't fly for commercial purpose.  If you are planning to do any commercial shoot then follow the below guidelines, rules and regulations.

Commercial Drone License

For flying drones at night or day commercially you need to be a FAA-certified drone pilot. Hence there are some rules except from part-107. Let's see the things to follow to become a UAVs pilot.

  • First thing first, learn all the Part-107 rules.
  • Make sure you are 16 years old.
  • Fluency in English is must.
  • Being mentally & physically fit to fly a drone.
  • Pass the knowledge test.

If you want to pass the knowledge test you just read knowledge test study materials from FAA website. Obtain FAA tracking number (FTN). Schedule an appointment. If you have passed the test for a remote pilot certificate you can sign in to IACRA and complete the rest of the formalities.

Last but not the least you need to register your drone which will cost less than $7 with a validity of 3 years. You can use your debit/credit card to pay the fee.

Login to dronezone.faa.gov to register your drone. That's how you can be a certified drone pilot.

How to spot a drone at night

Flying a drone at night is easier than recognizing your drone while flying. Not only you need to spot your drone while flying but also you must spot other's drone. There are few ways to spot drone in the sky while in dark. Follow the steps below..

Follow the drone lights

Mostly filming drones use flash light to get better view at night and you can track those from the ground easily. Single light drones are bit difficult to track but most of the drones comes with dual light and one light always blink which is easy to spot.

There are now rules to use 3 color in drones for tracking/spotting drones at night. They are Green, White & Red.

Drones can't avoid flying sound

When rotors are moving, there must be a sound which you can hear from far. You know sounds travel more than light without distortion. But this way is not suitable since there can be other noise as well. You cannot differentiate easily.

You can try to find from where sound is coming and by doing so you can spot a drone at night in the sky.

Until the drone is not a surveillance drone from Police or Military, you can easily hear the sound since usual drones make sounds that is bit heavy.

Acoustic Sensor

You can use the acoustic sensors in drones that can track even a minimal sound but this only works when you are flying your drones where there is less noise.

It is common that when a drone propeller starts rotating it creates at least a minimal sound. Which can be easily detected by the acoustic sensor.

The demotivating part is this acoustic sensor is costly and not everyone would like to buy it.

Therefore I suggest you to track the lights to spot a drone at night in the sky rather than sound, radio frequency etc. Because lights are always need to be on as we have discussed earlier. This is a rules from FAA for flying UAVs to fly drones at night.


I hope I have covered almost everything you need to know to fly a drone at night. From rules to tracking everything has been discussed throughout the article and you shouldn't have any confusion regarding drones flying in a dark environment.

Still, if you have any confusion and you feel that something is not clear, don't hesitate to comment below. Inforevz team will get back to you as soon as possible. Take care... Stay Healthy. 


Hi, This is Anisha Roy From India. Doing SEO and digital marketing is my passion. I am a professional blogger and digital marketer since 2015.

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