Ski Areas Ask the Question "To Drone Or Not To Drone?"

Cape, drone, footage, skier

Ski Areas Ask the Question "To Drone Or Not To Drone?"


Ski Areas Ask the Question "To Drone Or Not To Drone?"


After what seemed like an overnight explosion in personal-use drone technology, ski areas are taking stances on whether to include or exclude drone use within their ski area boundaries.

As of the past two weeks, the National Ski Area Association (NSAA) has created a framework banning drone use at its member resorts while other resorts such as Copper Mountain, Winter Park, Powder Mountain, and Homewood are all tentatively planning to utilize professional drone services at their resorts through the newly founded and drone specific production company, Cape

The San Fransisco based production company is currently one of the 1,864 entities to hold the FAA authorization known as the Section 333 exemption.

What is a Section 333 Exemption?

A Section 333 Exemption grants, “case-by-case authorization for certain unmanned aircraft to perform commercial operations prior to the finalization of the Small UAS Rule, which will be the primary method for authorizing small UAS operations once it is complete.”

The FAA plans to finalize its Small UAS Rule by sometime this upcoming spring.

What Exactly is Cape Productions?

“It’s simple! When you’re visiting a Cape partner resort, come to one of the runs where we’re operating our service. While you ride, our drones will film you. Our team of professional video editors does all of the editing to make your videos spectacular. It’s like having your own personal film crew! We do all the hard work for you so you can make the most of your precious time with friends and family.”

So far Cape Production partners include: Winter Park, CO; Copper Mountain, CO; Powder Mountain, UT; Homewood, CA; Fernie, B.C.; Timberline, OR; Mt. Hood Meadows, OR; Schweitzer Mountain, ID; Mountain Creek, NY.

One thing is for sure… The days of having a blue coat wearing mountain employee take a simple photograph with the resort logo in the bottom corner are quickly coming to an end.

But Why Are NSAA Resorts Banning Drones?

NSAA resorts are outlining a preemptive ban of personal use drones due to the risk they drones pose towards their ski areas and skiers in particular.

Remember: Stunning Drone Footage of Skiing Pow on Teton Pass

Other Operations

However, that is not to say the NSAA doesn’t hope to incorporate drones into their daily operations. In fact, NSAA officials recently wrote a letter to the FAA, suggesting the need for a specific language allowing drone use in search and rescue cases, avalanche mitigation, and after dark rescue operations.

Drone, Teton Pass, George Hein

Drone Footage of George Hein Skiing on Teton Pass | Photo Credit: Tristan Greszko

During their upcoming Eastern Winter Conference, one of the subjects on the NSAA’s agenda is drone use…

On their website, the description of the agenda item will cover possible uses for drones that include but are not limited to: “thermal heat imaging, gauging snow depths, infrastructure inspections, mapping, delivery systems, and even aerial avalanche transceivers.”

So as the NSAA takes the non-gnarcissitic approach and other resorts embrace said gnarcissim, the FAA will continue to modify and finalize regulations regarding drone use in public-use areas such as ski resorts.

The only question that remains is… How far should the FAA go in regulating personalized drone use?


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