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Small Plane flying into airspace while flying at 200 feet
2808 24 2015-7-26
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joeglenn
lvl.2
Flight distance : 202156 ft
United States
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Last night I was flying my P3P at a local dirt track facility I was over the infield not above any people or participants videoing my friend who was racing all the sudden I see a small aircraft like a Cesna flying very low into the area I was flying.  No airport nearby or anything I saw him coming at me and dropped the P3P to 75ft.  I was well within the leagal limits.  However if he would have hit my P3P and crashed would it have been my fault?  
2015-7-26
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Gabe R
Second Officer

United States
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I guess thats a gray area. maybe he had his own runway at a near by farm or his own property. bring up google earth and check the surrounding area to find out.
2015-7-26
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joeglenn
lvl.2
Flight distance : 202156 ft
United States
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I actually did all that before the flight and had permission of track owners to fly.  I did the google earth check and checked with 2 small local airports and notified both of them a drone would be in use.  I know it was posted in the pilot area at both facilities.  I thought I did everything right.
2015-7-26
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Willie Wonka
First Officer

United States
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It would have been your fault because you have to insure you have a spotter as other aircrafts have the right of way and you were flying at night.

I also use this in areas I don't know the air traffic in :
http://youtu.be/hYLmYzKJQxE

Better safe than in jail for killing someone.
2015-7-26
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aeriallens
lvl.4

United States
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Well...not so fast. While it is true that YOU need to be aware of and avoid air traffic, the Cessna pilot may also have been in the wrong if the plane was below 500 feet as you seem to suggest.

Assuming that you were in the USA, and the Cessna pilot was not approaching a private field, and the Cessna pilot was not making an emergency landing, HE/SHE WAS MOST LIKELY FLYING TOO LOW. 500 feet above the ground was probably as low as the Cessna should have been. There are certain exemptions, of course, like those guys towing banners just offshore at the beach.

Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Section 91.119 of
the General Operating and Flight Rules, which specifically prohibits low flying aircraft:
• 91.119 Minimum safe altitudes; general
o Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft
below the following altitudes:
(a) Anywhere -An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency
landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.
(b) Over congested areas -Over any congested area of a city, town, or
settlement, or over any open-air assembly of persons, an altitude of
1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000
feet of the aircraft.
(c) Over other than congested areas - An altitude of 500 feet above the
surface except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In that
case, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any
person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.
(d) Helicopters -
[etc]

So there you go.
2015-7-26
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gregg1r
First Officer

United States
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Willie Wonka Posted at 2015-7-27 01:38
It would have been your fault because you have to insure you have a spotter as other aircrafts have  ...

I disagree. Unless he were flying into an active runway approach, him (the OP) being below minimum flight ceiling would put the airplane pilot at fault.

The OP made notifications to the local private airfields. It wouldn't make you feel any better if you were involved in an incident, but the airplane pilot was the one who violated the airspace not the OP.

Up to 400' belongs to the recreational flyer.

Since there seems to be a place blame mentality on UAV flight, maybe the OP should file a report with the FAA about the encroachment by the airplane.
2015-7-26
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Willie Wonka
First Officer

United States
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Well in this case that pilot should have been reported, BUT do these small planes have a transponder or not? I am under the assumption that all are required to have one and if you had the radio transponder listener you would have got his call sign and being able to report the aircraft breaking the rules.
2015-7-26
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heclectic
lvl.2

United Kingdom
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I have some dim and distant past experience of professional flying and I think this is a case of "due regard" on the part of the pilots involved. The light aircraft pilot in particular should know the rules surrounding light UA and should keep an extra vigilant eye out for them if flying in airspace in which they are otherwise permitted.

The case of "due regard" of course applies to an aware UA pilot too, who can descend to de-conflict with other airspace users if seen in the area (much as you did).

If the worst occurred and there was a collision, then it would come down to the fact that, unfortunately, under VFR in uncontrolled airspace, air-misses and collisions still occur and usually come down to a level of failure in the visual lookout of one or both aircraft pilots. Pilot error, in other words.

Having said all that, problems arise sometimes because no matter how good a pilot's lookout, variables such as cockpit design, aircrafts' speeds, headings and attitudes can conspire and a collision will be inevitable.

We, as UA pilots need to be aware of this and just be careful out there... and of course, light aircraft pilots need to too.

Perhaps maybe a current light aircraft pilot or two read this forum who could give their take?
2015-7-26
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gregg1r
First Officer

United States
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Willie Wonka Posted at 2015-7-27 01:58
Well in this case that pilot should have been reported, BUT do these small planes have a transponder ...

With the low prices on radio equipment, very few small aircraft don't have a radio if for nothing more than turning on night time runway landing lights. The area around Washington DC requires all aircraft entering the area to have a transponder. As far as a transponder beacon, unless you are flying IFR, I don't believe there is a requirement.

The VFR pilot shouldn't be flying at or after dark.

2015-7-26
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nofearmx
lvl.4

United States
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I agree. As a pilot you are not allowed to fly that low. Unless you have a very specific authorisation. Same rules apply to them as drones. Airspace us Airspace. They are bigger so they are not supposed to be bellow 500 feet unless they have a justified emergency or are landing. I would take the N by ber and report it personally.
2015-7-26
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nofearmx
lvl.4

United States
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However in a side note same apply to boats the smaller one us more maneuverable so has to give the right away. By emergency standards you should always break right to avoid collision. If both pilots do it the will each go in opposit directions.
2015-7-26
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Willie Wonka
First Officer

United States
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So what we learned here is :

- Bigger aircraft with human life in it always has the right of way even if they were breaking the rules and invading your airspace, as the phantom has an explosive battery inside and not considered a bird.
- Do not go above 400 feet unless you are asking for trouble.
- when in doubt break right.
- You are not alone up there.
2015-7-26
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Gabe R
Second Officer

United States
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break right might not work if the phantom is facing the same direction as the plane.
2015-7-26
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nofearmx
lvl.4

United States
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Yes it does if both pilots break right. :-)
2015-7-26
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Robocop.2160 Sy
lvl.2
Australia
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aeriallens@gmai Posted at 2015-7-27 01:52
Well...not so fast. While it is true that YOU need to be aware of and avoid air traffic, the Cessna  ...

The pilot might have a low level waiver for any number of reasons.   You would never know unless you checked with the pilot.



2015-7-26
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droneflyers.com
First Officer
Flight distance : 60709 ft
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United States
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FYI, I was flying about 1.5 miles north of a fairly busy small airport recently - and in the general direction of the main runway. I looked up the specs on the airport and it did say that the minimums were about 200 to 250 feet per mile away - that is, no plane would be below about 350 feet where I was.
BUT, I called the tower anyway. He didn't seem concerned at all and said I should be fine if I stayed under 500 feet (I did, of course). The minimums are just that - not used in everyday flying it appears.

I can always hear aircraft in these locations anyway and will generally drop to 200 feet or so if I sense one is a mile or two away.

But, yeah, the tower did seem to confirm that none of the many aircraft which use the airport should be under 500 feet - even 1.5 miles away from one end of the runway.
2015-7-26
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jeffgritchen
lvl.3
Flight distance : 3117448 ft
United States
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gregg1r Posted at 2015-7-27 02:34
With the low prices on radio equipment, very few small aircraft don't have a radio if for nothing  ...

you can fly VFR at night as long as you have the required 3 miles visbility
2015-7-27
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gregg1r
First Officer

United States
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jeffgritchen Posted at 2015-7-28 04:14
you can fly VFR at night as long as you have the required 3 miles visbility

On a high moon lit night, not a problem. No moon means no fly. If you can't see landmarks on the ground to navigate, you don't fly.

I met a ballon pilot today that told me that after 911 they are required to have both radios and transponders. She operates under class D airspace, above 500 and below 2500 feet. She and her husband do balloon charters. She wanted to get some video footage via a UAV and the local airport refused clearance for the UAV to fly.
2015-7-27
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Sling Shot
lvl.4

United States
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gregg1r Posted at 2015-7-27 01:57
I disagree. Unless he were flying into an active runway approach, him (the OP) being below minimum ...

That's exactly what I would do. The pilot must be on approach to a landing strip, or emergency landing to be below 500 feet.
2015-7-27
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dji.blitzk
lvl.4
Flight distance : 1735568 ft
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"Would it have been my fault"

Maybe, maybe not...  Either way, it would be national news and you would be getting a TON of unwanted attention.  If they decided to press charges, you would have to come up with the money to pay for your lawyer(s) and in the media, you're guilty first.  

Even if you're 100% in the right, sometimes its not worth the trouble and it sounds like you did the right thing.
2015-7-28
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aburkefl
First Officer
Flight distance : 78612 ft
United States
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gregg1r Posted at 2015-7-27 02:34
With the low prices on radio equipment, very few small aircraft don't have a radio if for nothing  ...

Sorry, Night-VFR is NOT illegal!

For the great majority of pilots, it's perhaps not a good idea, but it's not against the law.

Additionally, if you're flying *and* you have a radio *and* you're flying VFR, the transponder is supposed to be set to 1200. The ATC guys can still "see" you, but will recognize you're flying VFR by the transponder code.

When JFK Jr. lost his Saratoga in the drink, he was flying with a legal night-time VFR flight plan. He apparently became disoriented and lost control of his bird. If he'd had more training with the instruments, he might have been able, blah, blah, blah. A moot point.
2015-7-29
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cmmettler
lvl.2

United States
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I'm a licensed Private Pilot.
Sounds like Class G airspace. There is no minimum altitude for aircraft - other than to be high enough to make a safe emergency landing in the case of an engine failure.
Night VFR flight is legal !

The bottom line - "See & be Seen"  That's why there is a line of sight requirement.
If a spotter is required - use one !
2015-7-29
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Fulgerite
First Officer

United States
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I think the OP did the right thing here.  He descended and let the other aircraft pass out of the area.

I am a former private pilot my understanding is:

1. The small aircraft should not be flying under 500 ft. AGL over a populated area.  (Or unless it's an emergency or they are a landing.)  If the area was not "populated" it perfectly legal.  Small aircraft do comonly practice emergency landing maneuvers over unpopulated areas.

2. Night VFR flight is legal.  I used to fly at night under VFR.   Frequently.

3. The quad copter should immediately descend to under 50 ft.  The "break right" rule is not obvious to a quad pilot because the quad can be in any orientation to the pilot.  Right to who?  the quad pilot or right to the quad's perspective?

4. The small aircraft has the right of way because it has live people on board that can be injured or killed by a quad impact.  The quad does not.

And for anyone who says a DJI phantom would be "harmless" to a Cessna if it hit.  You are WRONG.  I have seen plenty of stories about 2 pound bird go straight through a windshield and KILL a passenger or pilot.  A 4 pound DJI drone made of hard plastics and chunks of aluminum (motors) will go through an airplane like bullets.  A Phantom could also dent the leading edge of a wing and cause a serious loss of lift & control on one wing sending the plane into a stall when attempting to land.  A DJI Phantom is an extremely dangerous object to hit in a small aircraft.  A helicopter could be serious as well.

If you see an aircraft approaching descend and wait for it to pass.


2015-7-29
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grangerfx
First Officer
Flight distance : 817713 ft
United States
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I watched a Cessna 152 do a barrel roll over the ridge line near me below 1000 feet last year. Private pilots are just like drone pilots. Some of them do crazy things. I admit to doing some crazy things myself in planes when I was much younger. This is why I feel that drones are safer than planes. At least when you screw up with a drone the chances are excellent neither you nor anyone else will get hurt. On the other hand, I am minus one friend who tangled with some power lines while hotdogging it in a small plane.
2015-7-29
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jeffgritchen
lvl.3
Flight distance : 3117448 ft
United States
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gregg1r Posted at 2015-7-28 05:25
On a high moon lit night, not a problem. No moon means no fly. If you can't see landmarks on the g ...

Not true. This is what is required for night VFR:
VFR Night Requirements
Requirements for VFR Night flight can be found in 91.205(c)
They include the above mentioned A TOMATO FLAMES plus FLAPS
F – fuses (one complete spare set)
L – landing light (only if you are flying for hire)
A – anti collision lights*
P – position lights
S – source of electricity (alternator, generator)

There is nothing in the FAA regulations that require any moon for night VFR flight
2015-8-2
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