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Low flying helicopter
1393 36 2018-2-19
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fans1d9a1a85
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At the weekend I was walking in the hills around Wales. I was using my drone when I could hear the sound of an aircraft. It sounded quite low so I brought my Mavic back down.

It was some sort of funky helicopter/cross plane and the guy flying it was dipping down really low doing all sorts of fast turns and twists much lower than 120m.

Since I was in the hills is the height you’re allowed to fly your drone calculated from the height you take off?

At the top of the hill 120m from take off Is obviously a lot higher than at the bottom. Am I in his space or is he in mine?

Obviously I acted on the side of safety and brought my drone down but if I didn’t see him and the worst happened who is at fault?

(No warning we’re given by the app for no fly zone).
2018-2-19
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Mavic Ace
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Manned aircraft always have the right away.  That being said there are regulations regarding how low they can fly as well.  You might want to look into that.
2018-2-19
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jreynolds5
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Sounds like what would be commonly called a gyro copter and because of the nature of the craft may not have to follow the rules of larger air craft. It is to helicopters what an ultrlite is to planes.
2018-2-19
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fans1d9a1a85
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Yep, that’s why I’m asking. I thought they were supposed to stay above 120m. However, I’m not sure how that works when the ground isn’t flat and gradient changes quickly
2018-2-19
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A CW
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Manned aircraft should be over 500' but do take priority in the sky over UAV's - for obvious reasons.
2018-2-19
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CuaC
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If you take off on top of a mountain that will be set to your zero altitude. If you fly away from the mountain, your AGL altitud will increase fast as the hill steeps down. AGL means above ground, ground is what is exactly below your copter.
2018-2-19
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Leftyguy
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You did the right thing even if he was in the wrong.
2018-2-19
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Woe
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Agreed. You did the right thing
2018-2-19
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Cameleon
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Sounds like a gyrocopter as said above. We get a few of them buzzing around the Lakes also. You did the right thing getting out of the way. They seem to be a force unto themselves. We also get paragliders that you have to watch out for in the hills too!
2018-2-19
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Mullheliflier
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You did the correct thing by giving way. They often will fly below 500' in remoter areas. Practising low flying, emergencies etc
2018-2-19
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Griffith
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Gyrocopters and ultralights are easily transportable and often fly from private property or other non-registered air fields - since they require very little space to take off.  In the US, the FAA doesn't require the pilots
or aircraft to be licensed or registered.  You are wise to stay clear.  It is unclear that they have a minimum altitude - except avoiding congestion and general safe-flying guidelines.

You were wise to avoid them. They are less maneuverable than you are and probably no faster.  Keep in mind that you're max height is AGL from the bird, not your takeoff point.
2018-2-19
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fans1d9a1a85
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Yeah I can be pretty stubborn but when it comes to potentially causing a fatality, I know when to just call the other person an idiot.

There were quite a few people at the top viewing point, he was just showing off.

I’d like to know where I stand legally though. Can someone explain to me in simple terms how this works?

Two scenarios.

1. I’m standing on the top of a hill I take off and go up to my limit of 120m. I do not fly over the edge of the hill. An aircraft is not supposed to fly under that height?

2. I take off an immediately I fly over a cliff edge, my controller was giving a minus reading because it’s lower than when it took off (this is what I saw at the weekend). Where do I calculate my 120m from? Straight up from where I’m standing? So technically I can’t fly to the side because the drop will add mor altitude ( not sure if that’s the correct word but I think you guys know what I mean?)..
2018-2-19
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fans1d9a1a85
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Apologies for the poor grammar, I’m on my phone. I’m old and need a large screen :-)
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Wyke
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fans1d9a1a85 Posted at 2018-2-19 09:42
Yeah I can be pretty stubborn but when it comes to potentially causing a fatality, I know when to just call the other person an idiot.

There were quite a few people at the top viewing point, he was just showing off.

It’s above ground level, so yes, if you take off from the top of a hill, your fly zone actually lowers with the terrain.
2018-2-19
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A CW
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Griffith Posted at 2018-2-19 06:56
Gyrocopters and ultralights are easily transportable and often fly from private property or other non-registered air fields - since they require very little space to take off.  In the US, the FAA doesn't require the pilots
or aircraft to be licensed or registered.  You are wise to stay clear.  It is unclear that they have a minimum altitude - except avoiding congestion and general safe-flying guidelines.

You mean to say that if I lived in the US I would have to register a 300g Spark but not a gyrocopter than I'd sit in... That's outstanding LOL
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Griffith
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A CW Posted at 2018-2-19 11:34
You mean to say that if I lived in the US I would have to register a 300g Spark but not a gyrocopter than I'd sit in... That's outstanding LOL

According to FAA Part 103:
The FAA has chosen not to promulgate Federal regulations regarding pilot certification, vehicle certification, and vehicle registration, preferring that the ultralight community assume the initiative for the development of these important safety programs. The ultralight community is expected to take positive action to develop these programs in a timely manner and gain FAA approval for their implementation. Should this approach fail to meet FAA safety objectives, further regulatory action may be necessary.

To be considered an ultralight vehicle, a hang glider must weigh less than 155 pounds; while a powered vehicle must weigh less than 254 pounds; is limited to 5 U.S. gallons of fuel; must have a maximum speed of not more than 55 knots; and must have a poweroff stall speed of no more than 24 knots. Both powered and unpowered ultralight vehicles are limited to a single occupant.

Those vehicles which exceed the above criteria will be considered aircraft for purposes of airworthiness certification and registration, and their operators will be subject to the same certification requirements as are aircraft operators.


Go figure!
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A CW
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Griffith Posted at 2018-2-19 11:51
According to FAA Part 103:

To be considered an ultralight vehicle, a hang glider must weigh less than 155 pounds; while a powered vehicle must weigh less than 254 pounds; is limited to 5 U.S. gallons of fuel; must have a maximum speed of not more than 55 knots; and must have a poweroff stall speed of no more than 24 knots. Both powered and unpowered ultralight vehicles are limited to a single occupant.

Geez! May be you should buy a DSLR and tie it around your forehead and fly yourself in a gyrocopter however you like - seems less restricted than putting a 300g drone 50' off the ground. That is quite a remarkable find and a serious gap in the FAA regulations.
2018-2-19
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Griffith
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fans1d9a1a85 Posted at 2018-2-19 09:42
Yeah I can be pretty stubborn but when it comes to potentially causing a fatality, I know when to just call the other person an idiot.

There were quite a few people at the top viewing point, he was just showing off.

Unregulated flying (in any form)  is not immune to a flock of idiots.
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Griffith
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A CW Posted at 2018-2-19 11:58
Geez! May be you should buy a DSLR and tie it around your forehead and fly yourself in a gyrocopter however you like - seems less restricted than putting a 300g drone 50' off the ground. That is quite a remarkable find and a serious gap in the FAA regulations.

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A CW
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I like it hahahahahahaha & no need to register it by the look of things! Unbelievable
2018-2-19
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Lucas775
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I once called in my ATC about a plane that flew by while I was flying and they told me at that time the plane was flying under 400ft in that case if the plane hit my drone it would have been the plane at fault.
2018-2-19
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BumblerBee
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A CW Posted at 2018-2-19 11:34
You mean to say that if I lived in the US I would have to register a 300g Spark but not a gyrocopter than I'd sit in... That's outstanding LOL

That's the first thought that crossed my mind, too!
2018-2-20
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BumblerBee
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As for AGL flight, I live in an area with varying terrain (up to +-100m) and I often take off from the foot of a hill/mountain.
DJI app gives a dire a warning message when you try to set the max flight altitude to over 120m, but in reality, I often fly barely 40m AGL when I am at 120m from my take-off point.
2018-2-20
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Thudd
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The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) helps govern how we operate. There are FAA Part 103 rules. We give way to regular aircraft due to mobility. But drones can see us way before we can see them.
2018-2-20
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Thudd
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Just FYI Here are the Part 103 for Ultralights

FEDERAL AVIATION REGULATION PART 103—ULTRALIGHT VEHICLES

Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40103–40104, 40113, 44701.
Source: Docket No. 21631, 47 FR 38776, Sept. 2, 1982, unless otherwise noted.

Subpart A—General

§ 103.1   Applicability.

This part prescribes rules governing the operation of ultralight vehicles in the United States. For the purposes of this part, an ultralight vehicle is a vehicle that:

(a) Is used or intended to be used for manned operation in the air by a single occupant;
(b) Is used or intended to be used for recreation or sport purposes only;
(c) Does not have any U.S. or foreign airworthiness certificate; and
(d) If unpowered, weighs less than 155 pounds; or
(e) If powered:

(1) Weighs less than 254 pounds empty weight, excluding floats and safety devices which are intended for deployment in a potentially catastrophic situation;
(2) Has a fuel capacity not exceeding 5 U.S. gallons;
(3) Is not capable of more than 55 knots calibrated airspeed at full power in level flight; and
(4) Has a power-off stall speed which does not exceed 24 knots calibrated airspeed.

§ 103.3   Inspection requirements.

(a) Any person operating an ultralight vehicle under this part shall, upon request, allow the Administrator, or his designee, to inspect the vehicle to determine the applicability of this part.
(b) The pilot or operator of an ultralight vehicle must, upon request of the Administrator, furnish satisfactory evidence that the vehicle is subject only to the provisions of this part.

§ 103.5   Waivers.

No person may conduct operations that require a deviation from this part except under a written waiver issued by the Administrator.

§ 103.7   Certification and registration.

(a) Notwithstanding any other section pertaining to certification of aircraft or their parts or equipment, ultralight vehicles and their component parts and equipment are not required to meet the airworthiness certification standards specified for aircraft or to have certificates of airworthiness.
(b) Notwithstanding any other section pertaining to airman certification, operators of ultralight vehicles are not required to meet any aeronautical knowledge, age, or experience requirements to operate those vehicles or to have airman or medical certificates.

(c) Notwithstanding any other section pertaining to registration and marking of aircraft, ultralight vehicles are not required to be registered or to bear markings of any type.

Subpart B—Operating Rules

§ 103.9   Hazardous operations.

(a) No person may operate any ultralight vehicle in a manner that creates a hazard to other persons or property.
(b) No person may allow an object to be dropped from an ultralight vehicle if such action creates a hazard to other persons or property.

§ 103.11   Daylight operations.

(a) No person may operate an ultralight vehicle except between the hours of sunrise and sunset. (b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this section, ultralight vehicles may be operated during the twilight periods 30 minutes before official sunrise and 30 minutes after official sunset or, in Alaska, during the period of civil twilight as defined in the Air Almanac, if:

(1) The vehicle is equipped with an operating anticollision light visible for at least 3 statute miles; and
(2) All operations are conducted in uncontrolled airspace.

§ 103.13   Operation near aircraft; right-of-way rules.

(a) Each person operating an ultralight vehicle shall maintain vigilance so as to see and avoid aircraft and shall yield the right-of-way to all aircraft.
(b) No person may operate an ultralight vehicle in a manner that creates a collision hazard with respect to any aircraft.
(c) Powered ultralights shall yield the right-of-way to unpowered ultralights.

§ 103.15   Operations over congested areas.

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons.

§ 103.17   Operations in certain airspace.

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle within Class A, Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport unless that person has prior authorization from the ATC facility having jurisdiction over that airspace.
[Amdt. 103–17, 56 FR 65662, Dec. 17, 1991]

§ 103.19   Operations in prohibited or restricted areas.

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle in prohibited or restricted areas unless that person has permission from the using or controlling agency, as appropriate.

§ 103.20   Flight restrictions in the proximity of certain areas designated by notice to airmen.

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle in areas designated in a Notice to Airmen under §91.137, §91.138, §91.141, §91.143 or §91.145 of this chapter, unless authorized by:

(a) Air Traffic Control (ATC); or
(b) A Flight Standards Certificate of Waiver or Authorization issued for the demonstration or event.
[Doc. No. FAA–2000–8274, 66 FR 47378, Sept. 11, 2001]

§ 103.21   Visual reference with the surface.

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle except by visual reference with the surface.

§ 103.23   Flight visibility and cloud clearance requirements.

No person may operate an ultralight vehicle when the flight visibility or distance from clouds is less than that in the table found below. All operations in Class A, Class B, Class C, and Class D airspace or Class E airspace designated for an airport must receive prior ATC authorization as required in §103.17 of this part.
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RL_XXI
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A CW Posted at 2018-2-19 11:34
You mean to say that if I lived in the US I would have to register a 300g Spark but not a gyrocopter than I'd sit in... That's outstanding LOL

The thinking here is if a pilot is trusting his/her life on the light craft they will do what ever it takes to operate it in the safest manner possible, there is a lot to lose after all. Not so much with an UAV.
.
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sidtx
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Back in the 1980's, when ultralights started morphing from hang-gliders to powered 3-axis aircraft,  there was a rash of crashes due to "pilots" not taking training of any type when buying and flying an ultralight.

Just because it weighs less than 250 lbs,  doesn't mean that it won't hurt when you spiral into the ground at 60 mph.

Since then,  most ultra-light manufacturers require training before selling a craft to a person.  Of course,  anyone can build a craft from scratch, with no oversight, and as long as it meets the weight/speed/other requirements -- they are free to take it and fly it anywhere except controlled airspace.

so, with no training, no registration, no regulations (for the most part),  any idiot can buy an ultralight -- including a gyrocopter and go fly it in all sorts of dangerous/stupid manners.

Sid

P.S -- I'm a licensed non-professional pilot (SEL).


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BumblerBee
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RL_XXI Posted at 2018-2-20 12:41
The thinking here is if a pilot is trusting his/her life on the light craft they will do what ever it takes to operate it in the safest manner possible, there is a lot to lose after all. Not so much with an UAV.
.

Having seen some gyrocopter flights... you would not do some of their stunts with the drone on account of it being dangerous.
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A CW
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RL_XXI Posted at 2018-2-20 12:41
The thinking here is if a pilot is trusting his/her life on the light craft they will do what ever it takes to operate it in the safest manner possible, there is a lot to lose after all. Not so much with an UAV.
.

Which is why I'd of thought registering the craft and having a licence would be mandatory - like driving a car!
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RL_XXI
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A CW Posted at 2018-2-20 12:55
Which is why I'd of thought registering the craft and having a licence would be mandatory - like driving a car!

Not many gyro's/ultralites in the air, boat load + cars on the road. Gov must realize it. Not to mention flying is safer than driving statistically speaking. The lite craft don't have much top speed except when gravity takes over, cars 200+ mph (some).
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A CW
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RL_XXI Posted at 2018-2-20 13:22
Not many gyro's/ultralites in the air, boat load + cars on the road. Gov must realize it. Not to mention flying is safer than driving statistically speaking. The lite craft don't have much top speed except when gravity takes over, cars 200+ mph (some).

So you think it is right that the FAA do not require an aircraft that carries a human being to be registered but they do require a drone that weighs the same as a bag of spuds to be registered? Fine - you're entitled to your opinion. I think it's insane and thats my opinion.
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RL_XXI
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A CW Posted at 2018-2-20 13:26
So you think it is right that the FAA do not require an aircraft that carries a human being to be registered but they do require a drone that weighs the same as a bag of spuds to be registered? Fine - you're entitled to your opinion. I think it's insane and thats my opinion.

I do think it's insane but I'm not questioning the fact if I ever want to get onboard one, I can with the gov's blessing. LOL
.
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A CW
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RL_XXI Posted at 2018-2-20 13:32
I do think it's insane but I'm not questioning the fact if I ever want to get onboard one, I can with the gov's blessing. LOL
.

Well there is that!
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Montfrooij
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You are always in his space. At least, that is what I understand of the rule 'give other aircrafts priority' (not sure if I translate it right)
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A CW
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Montfrooij Posted at 2018-2-20 14:07
You are always in his space. At least, that is what I understand of the rule 'give other aircrafts priority' (not sure if I translate it right)

I think you're right - even if the pilot of the manned aircraft is breaking the law (flying too low for example) the aircraft still has priority over UAV's.
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Montfrooij
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A CW Posted at 2018-2-20 23:54
I think you're right - even if the pilot of the manned aircraft is breaking the law (flying too low for example) the aircraft still has priority over UAV's.

That is at least how I read the Dutch regulations.
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Thudd
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sidtx Posted at 2018-2-20 12:49
Back in the 1980's, when ultralights started morphing from hang-gliders to powered 3-axis aircraft,  there was a rash of crashes due to "pilots" not taking training of any type when buying and flying an ultralight.

Just because it weighs less than 250 lbs,  doesn't mean that it won't hurt when you spiral into the ground at 60 mph.

Back in the 80's is when I started "flying" my powered parachute. The manufacturer provided one day of training before I could take possession. As I'm sure you are aware, ultralights are a one man vehicle. Unless licensed. If I follow the rules and have a mishap, it's on me. No one else is hurt.  I respect your premise that  "any idiot can buy an ultralight". But I am saddened when I think back on the two friends I lost. Idiots they were not.
2018-2-21
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