I'm Rick, just got a new Phantom 3 Standard for christmas, and trying to learn where I can legally fly as a hobbist, according to the FAA rules. I live down in South King County area, and work in Renton, myself. I really would like to find some other pilots to fly with and compare equipment, and such. Maybe we need to start a local Meetup Group?|
Anyway, after reading much conflicting information from different post, and on different forums about when and where I could fly and when I do or don't have to call someone, I decided to call the FAA UAV Helpline, (please contact us via email at UAShelp@faa.gov or call 844-FLY-MY-UA.) and get the answer straight from the horses mouth. I told him I was strictly hobbist, and according to their B4UFLY app, I had 3 heliports and a rural airpark that I needed to call and notify before I could fly. Is that correct? His answer was very specific..."Yes." I ask, even if there is no control tower? He says yes. He also reiterated that we are not necessarily asking for "permission" to fly within the 5 mile zone, but that we were "notifying" them that we would be using the airspace within the 5 mile zone of their airstrip/heliport. And in most cases, as long as your not intending to be flying right off the end of the runway, they won't have any issues. I tell him I called the airpark and the airport manager was real nice, and it was no big deal, but I tried calling the 3 heliports and got a fax machine when i called one, just rang and rang and rang when i called the second, and got a disconnected number when i called the 3rd. He says, well you did what you were required, and that's what were asking...thanks for following the rules.
I can tell you when I called the airport manager at the airpark, it really was a quick and easy exchange. I told him who I was, where I would be flying in reference to his location, how long, how high, and how far away from my launch point. He didn't ask for it, but I gave him my FAA registration number anyway. He said thanks, and if I didn't mind, give him a call back when I was done. I did and it was all cool....No biggy at all. So, If it says in the B4UFLY app there are airports nearby, write down which ones they are, and then use a website like AirNav.com to look the place up and near the bottom of the page for that airport/heliport will be the name and phone number for the owner and airport manager. I'd call the airport manager. So far, I have found the phone number for both those individiduals the same. If there is an air traffic control tower at the airport, then you have to call it as well (first call actually), and that phone number will be listed on AirNav as well.
Someplaces like SEATAC have special requirements, and actually have a website for an online application to fly within their airspace. I have heard from one friend that tried to fly at Coulon Park and had some "Drone Police" show up and tell him he couldn't fly that close to Renton airport, and that Renton City had passed an ordinance of no drone flying in their parks. I can pretty well guarantee, you can't fly at Coulon due to the close proximity to the ends of the runway, but I looked online, and I couldn't verify the info on the Renton City Council drone ordinance... Just make a quick call before you fly if it says there are airports nearby. There are websites and apps out there to help get a phone number to the person you need to call at each of these places...AirNav.com is the one I know of and use.
My FAA friend did tell me that some guy that flew his drone into a building in downtown Seattle earlier this year, was just convicted of Reckless Endangerment and something else, and got a really hefty fine and jail sentence, and is facing big lawsuit from the building owner and the lady that the drone fell on and hurt. And when they find the guy that just flew his drone into the Space Needle, they will hit him with as stiff a penalty as possible to continue to try and send the message to us drone pilots that we can not fly just anytime and anywhere.
Anyway, I'm just passing the news along and I hope to meet some of you local guys in the near future. Let me know when and where you might be flying and we can use each other as the other's "Visual Observer" and learn from each other, how to get the most of these things....