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I'm new to the sport and can't find a written answer. I've been told by local PPG pilots that it is illegal to launch from state/federal parks.

I live near Johnson's Beach, Gulf Islands National Seashore and was told by the officer at the gate entrance:

Yeah, go ahead, use the parking area and beach to the west, we have guys that fly out of there regularly.

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FAA has the following informational web page for Alaska National Parks: https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ato/service_units/systemops/fs/alaskan/advisories/parks/

Which has contact information for parks where flight operations are periodically done. Several of my pilot friends have used park and forest service airstrips with permission, so it is worth asking. In Alaska, the parks are generally more open to aircraft, than in the lower 48.

There is also an advisory circular, 91-36C. https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ato/service_units/systemops/fs/alaskan/advisories/parks/media/ac91-36c.pdf

Some of the lower 48 have strips where permission may be granted, plus forest service has some strips (usually gravel) which permission may be granted to use. Again, contact the park in question, because they often have local rules which are permissive.

State parks vary. Some states prohibit aircraft of any kind, others permit operations, usually situationally.

Paragliders are just one class of airman who are impacted by park policies. sUAS pilots are also impacted.

Regardless of what you are told verbally, I would only consider ops in a Congress Designated Wilderness with written permission. Those areas have a prohibition of mechanized devices, and that includes hang glider and sUAS activities.

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No. According to FAA handbook (page 8-6):

Pilots are requested to maintain a minimum altitude of 2,000 feet above the surface of the following: National Parks, Monuments, Seashores, Lakeshores, Recreation Areas

USPPA's information brochure also mentioned this:

Most state and national parks are off-limits to launch but do allow overflight.

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    $\begingroup$ See this question and this one for more details on the 2000' thing; it's a 'please play nice' request, not an actual regulation. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Oct 30 '17 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife Yes, that's a request. I mentioned that to point out that overflying is allowed but national parks don't generally allow to launch. $\endgroup$ – Farhan Oct 30 '17 at 18:32
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The general rule in the US is that the FAA regulates where you can fly, but not where you can land or take off. That's up to the landowner, and any local/state/federal land use laws that apply.

36 CFR 2.17 governs aircraft use in national parks, and it says:

§2.17 Aircraft and air delivery.

(a) The following are prohibited:

(1) Operating or using aircraft on lands or waters other than at locations designated pursuant to special regulations.

In other words, you can't take off or land without permission. I couldn't find any information source that lists the permissions (if any) for each park, so unless someone else can find one then you'll just have to ask at each one, as you did.

(This question is closely related.)

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