The No-Fly Zones of The World: Places Where Planes Cannot Fly

Due to its mountainous landscape, Tibet is considered to be a no-fly zone.

No-fly zones are areas of the world in which airplanes are not allowed to pass over. They are established for a few reasons. One of the reasons such zones are formed is to protect civilians who might be caught up in a war with no way to defend themselves. Another reason that no-fly zones are established is for the national security to safeguard important areas in a country. No-fly zones may also be instituted in some places for specified periods to protect events going on in those areas. Several regions are also no-fly zones because of the natural topography of the land that is prohibitive to flying. No-fly zones are relatively modern concepts as they were established adequately after the Persian Gulf War ended. An array of actions can be taken against planes that violate the no-fly zones including shooting the aircraft down in extreme circumstances.

No-fly Zones in History 

Two of the no-fly zones established before 2005 were situated in Iraq and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Iraqi no-fly zone was set in 1991 by some nations such as the US, Turkey, and the UK which had interfered in the Iraqi-Kurdish dispute. The purpose of the no-fly zone was to prevent the Iraqi air force, under the control of Saddam Hussein, from attacking the Kurdish people using bombs and chemical weapons. The no-fly zone lasted from 1991 to 2003. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, a no-fly zone was established after the UN Security Council passed a resolution that required that the only military planes that could fly in the nation's airspace were those that had received authorization. The decision was ignored nearly 500 times which caused the Security Council to pass another resolution which declared all unauthorized flights in the area illegal. The second resolution empowered members of the UN to put in place measures that ensured the resolution was followed. The two regions provided important lessons in the establishment of no-fly zones such as the need for a clear chain of command as well as the importance of regional support in maintaining the no-fly zones.

Disney Theme Parks 

No-fly zones exist in two Disney theme parks, Walt Disney World in Florida, and Disneyland in California. The no-fly zones in the area extend to a height of approximately 3,000 feet with planes being allowed to fly at a higher altitude. The no-fly zone extends for an area of about three miles around the theme parks. The status accorded to the theme parks had drawn the anger of some individuals and organizations including most notably Richard Daley who was mayor of Chicago when the parks were given a special status. The parks got the status after the terrorist attacks that affected the US on September 11, 2001. The proponents of the parks getting the status defended it as the parks draw large numbers of visitors every year. The opponents, however, claim that the no-fly zones were instituted to prevent competitors from flying advertisements in the region. Despite being nearly as popular, theme parks such as Knott's Berry Farm do not enjoy the same status as the Disney Parks. The no-fly one has complicated the use of drones by Disney in the theme parks.


Tibet is a region in Asia that is considered one of the most elevated areas in the world as the average elevation in the region is approximately 16,000 feet. Tibet is one of the regions of the world with a natural no-fly zone due to factors such as the high mountains situated within its borders. Despite most commercial planes being able to fly at a height above the mountains, to ensure the safety of the passengers, flight paths generally avoid the high mountains in the area. The height of the mountains makes most emergency aircraft procedures untenable which contributes to planes not flying in the area. The high mountains also make it incredibly hard for pilots to deal with the turbulence.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is one of the most important areas in the UK as it is the residence for the monarch when they are in London. Apart from being their residence, it also serves as their administrative headquarters. Due to the importance of the palace, a no-fly zone was instituted in the region to ensure the security of the monarch. Another region in which planes are not allowed to fly over is Windsor Castle to safeguard the reigning monarch and the royal family. Some places which are important to the British government have no-fly zones over them such as Number 10 Downing Street, the UK Prime Minister's official residence, as well as the Houses of Parliament. The no-fly zones were put in place to protect officers of the government.

Machu Picchu

Another place over which airplanes are not allowed to fly over is Machu Picchu after the Peruvian government instituted the ban in 2006. Machu Picchu is one of the most well-known historical sites in the world as historians consider it the estate of Emperor Pachacuti. Machu Picchu is a relic of one of the most powerful empires in the region, the Inca Empire, and has attained some honors such as being selected as a UNESCO world heritage site as well a Peruvian historical Sanctuary. The site is one of the most important to the Peruvian government due to the number of tourists who visit the region and the income it generates. Due to the importance, the government put in place the ban to protect the rare wildlife in the area.

Taj Mahal

One of the most iconic pieces of Indian architecture is the Taj Mahal which was constructed from 1632 to 1653. UNESCO recognized the importance of the building in 1983 as the organization designated it a world heritage site. The Indian government instituted a no-fly zone in the region in 2006 primarily to safeguard the building and a large number of tourists who visit the area.

The Importance of No-Fly Zones

No-fly zones are critical in ensuring the safety of high ranking officials, civilians in combat zones, and structures of great historical importance. After terrorists used planes to cause devastation in the US, several governments instituted no-fly zones to protect what they considered high-value targets. No-fly zones also protect several areas from pollution which may destroy their value.


More in World Facts