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Low flying military aircraft
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Homestead72
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Whilst driving today in the UK, I noticed a Chinook Helipcopter low flying over a neighbouring village.  My immediate thought was 'whoa.....he is easily below the height I would fly my P3A at!!!  
It got me thinking a bit and I looked into it tonight on the tinterweb  and found  this which suggests that the WHOLE of the UK is potential open airspace for military training at low flight levels.

I want to be a responsible drone pilot and follow any necessary guidelines and laws but how does anyone factor in the risk that I might be flying at the same time and the same area as one of these low level training flights??

Any UK pilots out there have any thoughts or advice on this?

Thanks




2016-3-8
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AG0N-Gary
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I assume you are also supposed to fly within sight.  If so, it should be no big task to get out of the way of a chopper.  They make plenty of noise and you will hear them before you see them, especially a Chinook!
2016-3-8
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WetDog
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AG0N-Gary Posted at 2016-3-8 16:15
I assume you are also supposed to fly within sight.  If so, it should be no big task to get out of t ...

If you can't hear a Chinook from a a couple of kilometers away, you should get some hearing aids.  Same with pretty much all military aircraft.  We have Coast Guard HH60's.  Not as loud as Chinook but you can start to feel them when they get anywhere near you.
2016-3-8
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Geebax
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WetDog Posted at 2016-3-9 12:46
If you can't hear a Chinook from a a couple of kilometers away, you should get some hearing aids.  ...

I lie in wait for them here, and then go up to do battle with them. On my fifteenth P3 now.
2016-3-8
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Old Geezer
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Streaming a roll of kitchen foil from the rear of the drone's landing legs will make it visible to chopper pilots AND radar - they can then get out of your way allowing you to get that awesome videography you've been practising for months.

2016-3-9
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Dark Knight
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Its interesting you bring this up because I had the exact same worry last week. The coastguard were doing practise drills in a field not far from my house at about 50ft from the ground. Now this is the exact same field i was hovering over at 400ft the week before...this scared me a little!

Got me thinking what would actually happen if a drone such as the P3A got caught up in the rotors on a  helicopter?!..Scary
2016-3-9
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P3_Nutz
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Dark Knight Posted at 2016-3-9 11:48
Its interesting you bring this up because I had the exact same worry last week. The coastguard were  ...

Your drone would probably be a bit mangled.

On a serious note, what about low flying fighter jets which you don't really hear until they've past when going at speed. Saw one back along on a Loch only a couple hundred feet up. IMO it should be illegal for any aircraft to fly less then 500ft.

If one was flying their drone legally max height of 400ft and within sight and an aircraft collided with it and it came crashing down, who would be liable?..
2016-3-9
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Homestead72
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Dark Knight Posted at 2016-3-9 11:48
Its interesting you bring this up because I had the exact same worry last week. The coastguard were  ...

Exactly the thought process I went through Dark Knight!!  Except mine was with a Chinook with two rotors to worry about!!!
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Homestead72
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P3_Nutz Posted at 2016-3-9 12:14
Your drone would probably be a bit mangled.

On a serious note, what about low flying fighter jets ...

Can you imagine the media coverage that this would create if it happened!!  

I do appreciate that within line of sight you should be able to hear military aircraft flying this low but even so it would be easy to panic and fly the wrong way especially if your drone was far out.

2016-3-9
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nigelw
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P3_Nutz Posted at 2016-3-9 12:14
Your drone would probably be a bit mangled.

On a serious note, what about low flying fighter jets ...

It should be illegal to fly below 500ft?

How will the RAF practice low level flying if they can't go below 500ft?  What about search & rescue helicopters?  I walked past one last year half way up a mountain with its rotor running.  What about air ambulances wanting to land & take people to hospital?  There are also people like paragliders & hang gliders.  The sky between 400ft & the ground isn't just for us.  It's your responsibility to be aware of these things & check.

If you think you might be in an area where fighter jets (or any other aircraft) might be flying, like the Mach Loop, you can check NOTAMs to see where the activity is likely to be & avoid it.
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SVTRay
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Manned aircraft have right away. Anyhow, Helicopters are wildcards since they can fly any where. I usually just lower my drone down to around 10-20ft until they pass by or land if they continue to hang around.
2016-3-9
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WetDog
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Geebax Posted at 2016-3-8 16:52
I lie in wait for them here, and then go up to do battle with them. On my fifteenth P3 now.

I wonder if they know about it?  They probably think you are an insane seagull.
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Geebax
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WetDog Posted at 2016-3-10 15:05
I wonder if they know about it?  They probably think you are an insane seagull.

Possibly, but I do give them some grief, it is not easy picking Phantom out of your turbine blades.
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AlaskanTides
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LOL

I honestly not think the military or certain police helicopters allways accurately post where they are and what altitude they are at.

I was out in the middle of nowhere a few weeks ago and along comes a helicopter @ about 400'.  I had heard the copter well in advance &  My bird was only about 100 feet up and 300 feet away @ the time...  it was easy enough to land,, well before I ever got a visual on the Helicopter.

It does wake you up and makes you realize why LOS and situational awareness  is so important.

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Dark Knight
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Is there any website which would allow you to see current activity in your local area? I know you can track commercial aircraft (little out of our range!) but what about RAF and coastguard aircraft?
2016-3-10
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nigelw
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Dark Knight Posted at 2016-3-10 10:42
Is there any website which would allow you to see current activity in your local area? I know you ca ...

Google "NOTAM" - NOtice To AirMen
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chapcott
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nigelw Posted at 2016-3-10 12:39
Google "NOTAM" - NOtice To AirMen

http://notaminfo.com/ukmap
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nigelw
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chapcott Posted at 2016-3-10 13:31
http://notaminfo.com/ukmap

That's the one.  I would've found the link myself, but I was just browsing on my phone at the motorway services.
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martijn.kriens
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P3_Nutz Posted at 2016-3-9 13:14
Your drone would probably be a bit mangled.

On a serious note, what about low flying fighter jets ...

check the notams ... There are designated pathways for low flying jets and through NOTAMS notice is given when they are active. Precisely the reason why geofencing is a good idea
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Spare Wheel
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martijn.kriens Posted at 2016-3-10 16:54
check the notams ... There are designated pathways for low flying jets and through NOTAMS notice i ...

Not strictly correct Martijn. A NOTAM is issued by the CAA for unexpected or unusual activity. The NOTAM is issued to notify other airspace users of unusual activity. However, low flying military is often not unusual in many areas in the UK. Yes, a NOTAM will be issued if there are intensive exercises, but not for the occasional aircraft flying at 500 feet.

In addition, there are areas throughout the UK where there are clearly defined Areas of Intensive Aircraft Activity (AIAAs). The areas are quite large - they are not identifiable channels as such. Therefore, expect to see low fliers at any time, often without NOTAMs issued. Low flying military are common in my location in the UK, without NOTAMs.

You will find these AIAAs if you consult a 1:250,000 scale aviation map. If you are flying your UAV illegally in these areas (as in other areas) even in Class G (uncontrolled airspace) then you could get your collar felt very quickly if the military pilot or any other pilot files an AirProx report.

CAA CAP 393 & CAP 722 (Avoidance)

If you are a UAV pilot with CAA Permission for Aerial Work, you are able to file a NOTAM and inform the Military Low Flying Cell giving notice that you will be flying UAV at a particular location and in a particular time frame. As a result, they will avoid YOU. But I guess most here are not CAA PfAW.

Hope this helps.
2016-3-10
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nigelw
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Spare Wheel Posted at 2016-3-10 17:29
Not strictly correct Martijn. A NOTAM is issued by the CAA for unexpected or unusual activity. The  ...

When you say illegally, I take it you mean over 400ft or beyond visual line of sight?
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vr-pilot
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From my experience as a former PPL pilot in Germany (single engine airplane) I know that everything below 500ft AGL  (air to ground level) is illegal for a any A/C (including helicopters) outside airports or helipads (e.g. hospitals).
Going below that 500ft AGL limit due to low visibility/clouds would be illegal, too, because that would be a prove of poor weather self briefing.
There are exceptions for helicopters:  operations or outside landings approved by authorities (e.g. police, SAR, exceptional passenger/fright pick ups) or emergency/safety landings.
Exceptions for airplanes would only be special (private) landing strips (in Europe possible e.g. in Denmark) or emergency/safety landings.
So I am pretty sure that when flying a drone at or below 400ft AGL outside military flying zones (starting from GND) or airport/helipad areas, a crash with an airplane or helicopter flying at higher speeds than during an intended landing, would be legally caused by the A/C pilot in the first place.
That is why DJI (and the FAA and others) call the 400ft/120m limit a "safety limit". If there would be a crowd of possible collision targets all around below that AGL, the limit would make no sense.
So e.g. military pilots flying fast and (too) low without a landing intention are on the loser side.
(EDIT: the only problem with governmental opponents (military/police) is that in case of doubt getting justice can be difficult sometimes due to simple but complex reasons...)
Ah, one more thought: some weeks ago I saw a military airplane "Transall C160" going fast (150kt+) and low (500ft AGL or below) during fair weather over my area. I thought: "hey guys, you are violating my airspace!"
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vr-pilot
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nigelw Posted at 2016-3-11 07:13
When you say illegally, I take it you mean over 400ft or beyond visual line of sight?

From my experience as a former PPL pilot in Germany (single engine airplane) I know that everything below 500ft AGL  (air to ground level) is illegal for a any A/C (including helicopters) outside airports or helipads (e.g. hospitals).
Going below that 500ft AGL limit due to low visibility/clouds would be illegal, too, because that would be a prove of poor weather self briefing.
There are exceptions for helicopters:  operations or outside landings approved by authorities (e.g. police, SAR, exceptional passenger/fright pick ups) or emergency/safety landings.
Exceptions for airplanes would only be special (private) landing strips (in Europe possible e.g. in Denmark) or emergency/safety landings.
So I am pretty sure that when flying a drone at or below 400ft AGL outside military flying zones (starting from GND) or airport/helipad areas, a crash with an airplane or helicopter flying at higher speeds than during an intended landing, would be legally caused by the A/C pilot in the first place.
That is why DJI (and the FAA and others) call the 400ft/120m limit a "safety limit". If there would be a crowd of possible collision targets all around below that AGL, the limit would make no sense.
So e.g. military pilots flying fast and (too) low without a landing intention are on the loser side.
(EDIT: the only problem with governmental opponents (military/police) is that in case of doubt getting justice can be difficult sometimes due to simple but complex reasons...)
Ah, one more thought: some weeks ago I saw a military airplane "Transall C160" going fast (150kt+) and low (500ft AGL or below) during fair weather over my area. I thought: "hey guys, you are violating my airspace!"
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Homestead72
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Thanks for all this info.   To summarise the posts...

1.  Here in the UK, you should  assume that anywhere that is not a big city or built up area, could have military aircraft flying at low  level (below 400ft) at any time.  This is confirmed by the following website.  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/military-low-flying

2. Check the Notams website which will give you info on some of the more intensive training exercises, but not necessarily the minor ones. http://notaminfo.com/ukmap (Thanks Chapcott and Spare Wheel)

3. Provided you have line of sight with your drone, you are likely to hear a nearby low flying manned aircraft before you see it.  Probably the safest manoveur is to lower your drone to keep out of the way.  They probably have 'right of way'.

4. In addition to military aircraft there are also other low flyers about. Air ambulances,  paragliders & hang gliders and of course other drones!  The sky between 400ft & the ground isn't just for us.  It is our responsibility to be aware of these things & check. (Thanks Nigel).


Thanks for all the excellent contributions to this thread.

2016-3-11
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vr-pilot
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Homestead72 Posted at 2016-3-11 10:44
Thanks for all this info.   To summarise the posts...

1.  Here in the UK, you should  assume that a ...

I agree with you that the airspace below 400ft AGL is not just for us drone flyers.
But the other way around the airpsace below 500ft AGL is generally not ment to be used by any airplane or helicopter. Except e.g. for safety/ermergency landings, SAR, governmental operations (police, military) or specially authorized low altitude ops and "open field" landings.
The low airspace avoidance by any A/C is mandatory due to obstacle clearance (although some antennas or high voltage power lines can be twice or three times as high!), noise abatement and for safety in general because "hight is safety" (EDIT: true for airplanes and helicopters, not for "normal drones".)
So IMO when hearing an A/C nearby, the drone pilot should start a safe dive inbound the home point to a lower (BUT STILL SAFE!) altitude. This is for sure a good idea. Much better than getting involved in a near miss or even worse...
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andrewa
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Old Geezer Posted at 2016-3-9 07:04
Streaming a roll of kitchen foil from the rear of the drone's landing legs will make it visible to c ...

really does that work for us
2016-3-20
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banburyboy
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SVTRay Posted at 2016-3-9 12:01
Manned aircraft have right away. Anyhow, Helicopters are wildcards since they can fly any where. I usually just lower my drone down to around 10-20ft until they pass by or land if they continue to hang around.

An air investigation 2 weeks ago commended a drone pilot after he was in a near collision with a military chopper. What did he do???  He held his position and the chopper flew under him . The crew were oblivious to his presence and he had just seconds to make a decision about what to do.
It’s ridiculous to say you have lots of time to avoid a chopper. In a built up area it can be really hard to hear where the raft is coming from as the sound bounces around off buildings. If a loud train goes past at the same time you may not hear it he choppertil he’s on top of you.
The low flying squadron such as fly in wales and the lakes issue a weekly timetable. Worth a look but doesn’t help with choppers I don’t think. They can fly anywhere at whatever height they fancy
2017-10-17
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MrRobert5823
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Nice, they are going to fly low, they aren't going to have a set area to do it in, and they aren't giving advanced warning.  Good luck everybody!
2017-10-17
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