The operation of an uncrewed aircraft system (UAS), including drones and model aircraft, is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  To ensure the safety and privacy rights of the Wheaton College community and to ensure the legal operation of UAS, Drones and Model Aircraft on the Wheaton College campus, any Wheaton College employee or student wishing to operate a UAS as part of their employment, or as part of a Wheaton College academic or research program must first notify the Campus Safety Department by completing a flight request form (pdf). Forms must be submitted to the Campus Safety Department at least seven (7) days in advance of requested flight date.

Please note that personal Hobbyist/Recreational UAS use on or over Wheaton College property is not permitted.

All Wheaton College community members operating an uncrewed aircraft system are personally responsible for compliance with FAA regulations, state and federal laws, and college policies.  More information can be found on the Unmanned Aircraft Systems – Getting started page of the FAA website.

Requirements for Approved Operation

These requirements apply to:

  • Wheaton employees and students operating uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) in any location, including off campus, as part of their college employment or activities;
  • The operation by any person of uncrewed aircraft system or model aircraft on, above, or within Wheaton College property;
  • The purchase, development or construction of uncrewed aircraft systems with funding through Wheaton College, and;
  • The hiring or contracting for any uncrewed aircraft services by Wheaton College (i.e., to photograph campus for marketing purposes).  Refer to Third Party Use section for additional requirements.
Operator Responsibilities

There are two categories for flying an uncrewed aircraft system legally:

  • Fly under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Section 336).  Section 336 allows a person to operate an uncrewed aircraft for hobby or recreation at educational institutions and community-sponsored events provided that person is (1) not compensated, or (2) any compensation received is neither directly nor incidentally related to that person’s operation of the aircraft at such events. Student use of UAS at accredited institutions as a component of their science, technology, or other coursework such as film and production or the arts is within FMRA 336.  Faculty/Staff may provide limited assistance to students operating a UAS as part of the course.  Visit the Recreational Fliers & Modeler Community-Based Organizations page on the FAA website  for more information.
  • Fly under the FAA’s small UAS Rule (Part 107).  Faculty/Staff wishing to operate outside of section 336 parameters (including for research purposes) and any Third Party operator flying for commercial use and/or receiving compensation must operate as a 14CFR Part 107 Pilot in Command (PIC) for UAS weighing less than 55 lbs. This requires a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA.  A copy of this certificate must be submitted with the flight request form.  Visit the Certificated Remote Pilots including Commercial Operators page of the FAA website for more information.
  • All UAS must be registered with the FAA. A copy of your registration must be submitted with the flight request form.
  • When flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft must first contact the air traffic control facility and airport authorities for permission. Wheaton College is within 5 miles of Mansfield Municipal Airport.  It is the responsibility of the operator, if granted approval by Wheaton to fly, to also contact the airport for permission prior to flying. Download the B4UFLY Smartphone app for more information.

UAS may not be operated in any way that would create a public safety hazard, a hazard to property or privacy, or in such a way that unduly affects the environment of those working or living within a building, to those entering or exiting a building, or those moving about the property.  UAS must be flown according to the following guidelines:

  • UAS must be 55 pounds or under.
  • UAS must be flown below 400 Feet
  • Maximum speed of 100mph
  • Daylight operations only
  • Must be under the control of the operator at all times, remain within visual sight of the operator at all times and be flown only during daylight hours
  • UAS may not be flown over groups of people, inside buildings or public venues, or above thoroughfares (road, path, etc.)
  • Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
  • Never fly under the influence
  • Never fly near other aircraft
  • Restricted Area(s):  UAS’s may not be flown over the Dimple
Additional requirements for Third Party Use

Any third party wishing to fly a UAS or model aircraft over College property must first receive approval through Campus Safety at least 48 hours in advance of use by completing a flight request form (pdf). This includes vendors hired for commercial use; i.e. to photograph campus for marketing purposes.  In addition to the responsibilities listed above, third parties must also comply with the following:

  • Third Party operators (commercial use/receiving compensation) must operate as a 14CFR Part 107 Pilot in Command (PIC) for UAS weighing less than 55 lbs.
  • Provide proof of FAA registration, airport approval and remote pilot certificate.
  • Complete a contract/agreement with the college; holding the college harmless from any resulting claims or harm to individuals and damage to College property and;
  • Provide the college with a certificate of insurance with coverage and limits as required in the contract/agreement.
Violations & Sanctions
  • Violations should be reported as soon as possible to Campus Safety.
  • Any violations of Wheaton College policies by an individual will be handled in accordance with applicable Wheaton College policies and procedures, which may include disciplinary actions up to and including suspension, expulsion or termination from Wheaton College.
  • Legal prohibitions regarding physical presence on campus/trespassing and other legal action may be pursued against third parties that operate UAS in violation of this policy.
  • Damages, penalties, and liability will not be covered by Wheaton College for improper use.

Updates of the policy:  This policy may be updated in writing as necessary or appropriate in light of institutional experience and external regulatory changes.