Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



In light of the history of the doctrine of ad coelum, as well as the states’ preeminent role (secured by the Tenth Amendment) in regulating property and airspace up to the 500-foot level, it is remarkable that the federal government has begun to claim that it controls everything above the blades of grass. This chapter challenges those statements, demonstrating that history and law establish that property owners, and the states, control the airspace adjacent to the land.

Publication Citation

Laura K. Donohue, Who Owns the Skies? Ad Coelum, Property Rights, and State Sovereignty, in Eyes to the Sky: Privacy and Commerce in the Age of the Drone (Matthew Feeney ed., Cato Institute), Forthcoming, August 2021.