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Heliport notification for <10m operations
654 4 2018-1-29
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peselito
lvl.3
United States
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Hey there!

I know this topic has been addressed several times, but I am looking for some opinions on a very specific usage of the spark.

I am planning to shoot some very low altitude flights in and close to forests, waters, small lakes, etc. where I want to create some cinematic footage for first person viewing. I will not be able to shoot all the footage in one go (due to battery life and weather conditions). At the same time I'm of the opinion that calling the surrounding heliports every single time for flying a very low altitude mission is kind of a waste, since most of them do not really care anyways.

What would you do in my situation? As I said, very low altitude (maximum 10m), remote region away from interference, filming in forests, small rivers?

regards,
peselito

2018-1-29
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fansde510068
lvl.3
United States
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If you’re close enough to notify...notify.
2018-1-29
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Spaceman_66
First Officer
Flight distance : 81575 ft
United States
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What he (fansde510068) said. In my experience so far, it's actually been pretty painless to just suck it up and do the notification each time; for CYA purposes if nothing else.

My situation:  I live 4 statute miles from a semi-attended (8 am - 4 pm weekdays only) "heliport" that is actually an AT&T microwave facility that also has a 45x45 ft "helipad" mostly there for emergencies (firefighters, flight for life, call this number to have helipad perimeter blue lights switched on, etc.).

The first time I contacted the listed "airport manager" the guy (an AT&T employee) asked me in a phone conversation flat-out why I was contacting him in the first place. I explained it was an FAA requirement, and I was simply being strictly compliant with the requirements. We've since built a bit of a good working relationship via email and VM, and he has actually asked me to send him some cool pics, as he really likes them based on some early cool shots I sent him to clearly illustrate just how boxed-in I am by tall mountain peaks in almost every direction.

Now I routinely email him a "flight plan" (pretty much now a copy & paste & edit the dates and time windows as necessary) a couple days before each & every weekend (whether I actually fly or not of course depends totally on real-time winds and weather on any given flight window opportunity; luck o' the draw), and he's never had an objection, while I in turn have well-documented proof of compliance (i.e., a sent email [even better than a VM] for each and every outdoor flight with no objections received so far) for each and every flight should that ever be needed to prove I was indeed flying responsibly and in strict accordance with the appropriate practices and procedure. I tend to limit myself to 2 hour windows so it doesn't come across that I'm trying to carve out an entire day for myself.

Gives total peace of mind, despite it seeming somewhat pointless (I fly - so far - only over my own owned personal property ([2 adjacent 1 acre high desert lots, one of which is my primary residence] and at no more than 120' AGL, which keeps me plenty high but below local peaks topping out at between 120-1220' above me - seems pretty safe)! I've even sent the airport manager local topo maps showing clearly that by staying within my local flying "box" there is absolutely no way I'm conceivably jeopardizing local aviation (unless maybe a rogue AC is in the process of crashing into my neighborhood!!); plus they now have my cell number so I can be reached at all time while flying should an emergency situation unexpectedy arise. Just feels better knowing I've ticked all the boxes.

YMMV!
2018-1-29
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Todd in Chicago
Second Officer
Flight distance : 513757 ft
United States
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My understanding is that you do not need the towers to approve or even agree that you are flying, rather that you are simply notifying them.

Of course if they are really really against you flying, you need to decide if you want to proceed or not.

With that being said, I've never had any problems and of the 10 or so different towers I've notified, I think I only spoke to a live person twice, and they were just message takers.

Cheers...

Todd in Chicago

P.S.  Mine have only been heliports at hospitals, businesses, etc.
2018-1-29
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Spaceman_66
First Officer
Flight distance : 81575 ft
United States
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Todd in Chicago Posted at 2018-1-29 19:04
My understanding is that you do not need the towers to approve or even agree that you are flying, rather that you are simply notifying them.

Of course if they are really really against you flying, you need to decide if you want to proceed or not.


Exactly. You only need to notify, not explicitly receive permission. If they don't object, you're 100% good to go! Of course, a towered actual airport is gonna be a totally different beast, so YMMV completely!!
2018-1-29
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