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#Dronestrategy - flying in the United Kingdom
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A J
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After a lot of research I decided to purchase my first drone in August 2016 which was a toy drone and I was hooked after my first flight. After crashing it too many times I decided to buy my first proper drone and at the end of that month I pulled the trigger and bought the DJI Phantom 3 Professional from a local authorised dealer in North London where I live.

On my very first flight with a DJI drone I was told to land as I took off outside a mansion house and I didn't even know that drones were banned from certain areas and had their own drone code. After four minutes I went back home not knowing if I made a bad decision and decided to research the legalities of safe drone flying here in the UK and to research the regulations so as never to be told to land again (or worse).

There are essentially three areas to note with two of them controlled by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA):

1/ The Air Navigation Order (laws regarding the flight of drones)

2/ The drone code (basic regulations to assist in adhering to the ANO and safe flight practices)

The important areas to consider here in the UK for recreational/leisure purposes are as follows:

-You must follow manufacturers instructions - this means having read the manual thoroughly before your first flight so you know the basics from take off to landing and how to safely operate and maintain the drone

-Keep the drone <400' AGL. Note that the altitude reading in the GO4 app is based on how high the drone is above the homepoint from where it took off and not the elevation of the drone above the ground it is flying over - knowing the gradients of your environment that the drone is flying over is therefore important, especially in mountain areas. The 400' regulation was written in the ANO and made law last year. Placing a manned aircraft at risk with a drone in the UK may carry a custodial sentence of up to five years imprisonment!

-Maintain visual line of sight of the drone at all times that it is in the air. This means you must be able to physically see the drone with your naked eye. Glasses are acceptable but nothing else to aid VLOS. Even when flying a larger drone that may be seen at great distance the furthest you are permitted to fly horizontally is 500m/0.31 miles/1,640 feet from your position. Being written in the ANO it is a criminal offence to fly a drone beyond VLOS in the UK

-There should be no people, vehicles, buildings within a 30m radius of your position that are not in your control on take off/landing and this is extended to 50m in flight

-You must not fly within a 150m/492' cylindrical radius of a congested area. This will include large groups of people of >1,000 (stadiums, open air concerts and alike), busy roads/motorways, power plants, prisons, hospitals, schools, built up residential areas such as towns, business parks and city centres. Single buildings and small groups of people are fine to fly over providing you adhere to the 50m/165' rule and are not emergency services in operation such as fires or police work

-Never fly in close proximity of areas where manned aircraft take off and land. This includes airports, aerodromes, military bases and ensure that the area is not a NFZ (no fly zone). This will often be prevented anyway thanks to the geo fencing built into the DJI app. Given recently reported near misses, the new law around this is that drones must not be flown within 5KM of the centre of an airport. NATS drone assist is a great app that you can install on your phone for free to provide you with detailed NFZ's. Where you fly is vital to safe and successful drone use

-Note that YOU are responsible for each and every flight. Any crash involving your drone is ultimately your responsibility and you will be libel for third party bodily injury and/or property damage. FPV UK offer £5m of third party insurance for drone flyers as part of their annual membership for just £19.99 a year. Many allocated RC fields will require such insurance as a mandatory requirement to fly a drone on them too

Unfortunately there have been several incidents involving drones of late in the UK and whether fake news or not, the UK government has undertaken a national inquiry into the ethics and safety of drone use in UK airspace to create a new drone bill which is likely to come into effect later this year or in 2020 to include unlimited fines for illegal drone use. At present, you do not need to register a drone in the UK or take any tests but these two specific areas will become mandatory w/e 30 November 2019 and are likely to form part of the new drone bill following the consultation which closes today (be sure to have your say).  

3/ The land you take off from. Sadly, drones are not devices that you can use anywhere you like in the UK. As I said at the start, there are places you can not fly even if you are flying in accordance with the CAA laws and regs. Always check that the area has not prohibited drone use. You must have permission from the land owner when taking off from private land. Some councils have revised by-laws banning or restricting drones from parks and public access paths. Some but not all national parks have banned drones. The heritage and national trusts have banned drones and the whole of central London is a NFZ as are all Royal parks in London. That said, there are still many lovely places to fly drones in the UK safely and without the risk of being fined or told to land. Checking the website of the park etc is a great help and taking off on a quiet weekend morning is normally best practice. Do also keep away from Royal households and use your common sense around important land marks, if you are permitted to fly near it at all. Note that the CAA has no control over the land and land owners have no legal control over airspace but everyone has the right to privacy.  

If visiting the UK from abroad note that drones are permitted to be taken through British airports but each airline may have restrictions on the number of batteries and these should always be brought on as carry on's with the drone stored with your luggage.

Since my very first flight I have continued to enjoy this great hobby. I have traded in a number of drones in the past two years and eight months that I have been flying and since my P3P I have also owned the following with each offering something different to the other:

Phantom 4 Pro
Mavic Pro
Spark
Mavic Pro Alpine White
Mavic Pro Platinum
Mavic Air
Inspire 1 V2.0
Mavic 2 Zoom
Mavic 2 Pro

Despite a recent indoor incident I have never crashed or lost a DJI drone outdoors and since my first flight with the P3P I have never been asked to land a drone again. I have flown several hundred flights covering thousands of miles and hundreds of flight hours with these drones whilst taking still images and video footage that I never thought I would ever be able to capture. Here are some recent examples that I have taken with my Mavic 2 Pro: -



4-11 08:29
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A J
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4-11 08:29
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A J
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United Kingdom
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4-11 08:29
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A J
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4-11 08:29
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A J
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4-11 08:30
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A J
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4-11 08:30
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A J
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4-11 08:30
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A J
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4-11 08:31
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A J
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4-11 08:31
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A J
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I hope you found this useful and have safe and enjoyable flights wherever you are.
4-11 08:52
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DJI Panda
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beautiful works and very nice strategy. Thanks for sharing.
4-11 20:08
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Bebo117
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Hi AJ, thanks for your tale. Really interesting; probably in next future all EU countries will adopt the same restrictions.
4-11 20:23
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A J
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DJI Panda Posted at 4-11 20:08
beautiful works and very nice strategy. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you very much DJI Panda and thanks a lot for putting this thread into digest - really appreciate that.
4-11 23:25
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A J
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Bebo117 Posted at 4-11 20:23
Hi AJ, thanks for your tale. Really interesting; probably in next future all EU countries will adopt the same restrictions.

I'm sure drone use will be constantly monitored by many countries but my hope is that they start to be more accepted and things lighten up. Is was heading that way for a while then the odd one ruins it for all of us.
4-11 23:27
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Hartyaj
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Great work and informative.
4-12 03:27
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A J
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Hartyaj Posted at 4-12 03:27
Great work and informative.

Thanks very much.
4-12 03:28
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Antonio76
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AJ, thanks a lot for you very informative piece and the beautiful images you shared. Things are quite similar here in Danmark, but I for one agree on the need of some limitations on what a drone owner can do. It is all about safety, after all. Got my first "real" drone, a P4P after studying all the possible rules, and one year after they put up a specific rule, involving also registration of the drone and a  simple exam to pass online. Clear rules and easy registration process, no problems. The only bad part is my health,, which prevents me from flying  away from home, but luckily I live in the country and with scattered and understanding neighbours...
I
4-12 04:07
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ParideM
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I have been in London 5 days last year, when I returned from majorca, I had mavic air with me but I kept it in my suitcase, I didn't fly in England. Thank you for sharing your experience, you have provided very useful information and great pictures.
4-12 04:26
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A J
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Antonio76 Posted at 4-12 04:07
AJ, thanks a lot for you very informative piece and the beautiful images you shared. Things are quite similar here in Danmark, but I for one agree on the need of some limitations on what a drone owner can do. It is all about safety, after all. Got my first "real" drone, a P4P after studying all the possible rules, and one year after they put up a specific rule, involving also registration of the drone and a  simple exam to pass online. Clear rules and easy registration process, no problems. The only bad part is my health,, which prevents me from flying  away from home, but luckily I live in the country and with scattered and understanding neighbours...
I

Thanks for reading. Seems similar to the UK except we are behind in the reg and test process though that's coming.
Living in the country helps massively as the regulations kind of steer drones in that direction to say the least. That said, I live at the top of one of the biggest cities on the planet and can walk to some safe and totally legal flight locations from my house. You just need to dig a little to find them. Having understanding neighbours is great as they then become in your control with their permission but even if my neighbours were OK I'm still restricted by the rules of a congested area.
Thanks for your comments
4-12 05:14
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A J
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ParideM Posted at 4-12 04:26
I have been in London 5 days last year, when I returned from majorca, I had mavic air with me but I kept it in my suitcase, I didn't fly in England. Thank you for sharing your experience, you have provided very useful information and great pictures.

My pleasure and glad you found it useful. I hope the next time you are in England for a few days with a drone in your bag that you head out of central London and fly. Your footage that I've seen in your threads is amazing and as I said, there are some great places to fly in the UK. South Downs National park just south of Greater London is awesome!
4-12 05:17
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Montfrooij
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Nice work Andy!
4-12 05:20
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A J
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Thanks very much Monty
4-12 05:22
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Montfrooij
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A J Posted at 4-12 05:22
Thanks very much Monty

You're welcome!
4-12 05:31
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Sayhelloforme
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Good info. Beautiful photos.
4-12 17:32
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jacksonnai
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Very nice entry, great information!
Thanks for sharing
4-12 21:46
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jacksonnai
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Fabulous pictures btw!
4-12 21:47
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A J
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Sayhelloforme Posted at 4-12 17:32
Good info. Beautiful photos.

Thank you kindly
4-12 22:34
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A J
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jacksonnai Posted at 4-12 21:47
Fabulous pictures btw!

Nice of you to say mate - thanks a lot
4-12 22:35
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jacksonnai
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A J Posted at 4-12 22:35
Nice of you to say mate - thanks a lot

You're welcome Andy!
Great job!
4-13 02:00
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ro_flyer
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Great work and informative.
4-14 17:31
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Sayhelloforme
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A J Posted at 4-12 22:34
Thank you kindly

You’re welcome AJ. Keep it coming. Awesome inspiration.
4-14 19:19
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Sayhelloforme
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You nailed this shot. All photos are great but I LOVE this one. I dont think a DSLR could have done better.
4-14 19:21
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A J
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ro_flyer Posted at 4-14 17:31
Great work and informative.

Many thanks ro_flyer
4-14 23:32
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A J
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Sayhelloforme Posted at 4-14 19:21
You nailed this shot. All photos are great but I LOVE this one. I dont think a DSLR could have done better.

That's very nice of you- thanks again.
4-14 23:32
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ro_flyer
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A J Posted at 4-14 23:32
Many thanks ro_flyer

You're welcome buddy!
4-15 04:00
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A J
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ro_flyer Posted at 4-15 04:00
You're welcome buddy!

.
4-16 12:53
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