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Stupid Choppers
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1405 42 2017-1-29
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DanMan32
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I was flying my drone at 400ft in what should have been a class G location since the GO App did not issue a warning about being in a class D area (it has been wrong about that by the way) nor did BUFly indicate any issues when a heilcopter flew by at what probably was 200ft since it was below my drone.   That or the app was reporting my elevation incorrectly, which is certainly possible.

I didn't notice what kind of helicopter it was though, could have been one belonging to the sheriff department.
2017-1-29
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RedHotPoker
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Ah, for a second I Thought you were referring to a fellow RC enthusiast with his RC helicopter, flying  in or near your airspace.  Ha

In this case, you are in their air... ;-$


RedHotPoker
2017-1-29
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JackA
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Even licensed pilots of manned aircraft break the rules, I know.  sUAS pilots are not the only ones...  The difference is the Tail Numbers are easier to get on the manned aircraft.
2017-1-29
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DanMan32
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I didn't note the tail number or any other markings.   I didn't even realize until what could have been too late that the chopper was around.   Then I thought, Oh crap.   I was doing a POI maneuver to get a panoramic at the time.
2017-1-29
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Mark The Droner
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Those helicopters can fly at whatever height they want.  That's why you need to be aware of any heliports nearby, and advise them you're flying if you think it's warranted.  Otherwise, keep your ears open and be ready to evade.  If anything unfortunate happens, it's on you.  
2017-1-29
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Quamera
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Mark The Droner Posted at 2017-1-29 17:03
Those helicopters can fly at whatever height they want.  That's why you need to be aware of any heliports nearby, and advise them you're flying if you think it's warranted.  Otherwise, keep your ears open and be ready to evade.  If anything unfortunate happens, it's on you.

Might is right, I like to give way to trucks too and give them plenty of space on the road.
2017-1-29
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DanMan32
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No heliports in the area.   That's something that BUFly does report on.
Now my house, my dad's house and a park I like to fly in is just inside the 5 mile radius of a small airport.   Small in the sense there isn't too much traffic going in and out of it but it does serve either UPS or FexEx jets.   But this time I was way outside of that limit.
2017-1-29
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Labroides
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JackA Posted at 2017-1-29 16:22
Even licensed pilots of manned aircraft break the rules, I know.  sUAS pilots are not the only ones...  The difference is the Tail Numbers are easier to get on the manned aircraft.

A lot of people imagine that planes and helicopters can't fly below 500 feet but that's wrong.
Here are the FAA rules they have to follow, take particular note of C & D:

§ 91.119 Minimum safe altitudes: General.
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 those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.
(d) Helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift-control aircraft. If the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface—
(1) A helicopter may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, provided each person operating the helicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA
2017-1-29
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RedHotPoker
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DanMan32 Posted at 2017-1-29 17:28
No heliports in the area.   That's something that BUFly does report on.
Now my house, my dad's house and a park I like to fly in is just inside the 5 mile radius of a small airport.   Small in the sense there isn't too much traffic going in and out of it but it does serve either UPS or FexEx jets.   But this time I was way outside of that limit.

You might consider putting some proper LED's on your aircraft, so others can see you, a Mile away... Ha


RedHotPoker
2017-1-29
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DanMan32
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Them stock LEDs are pretty bright.   Unlike my Syma I can see the lights quite a distance away.
2017-1-29
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fansaae2c5fd
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I am a helicopter pilot and I can tell you that in the United States there is no regulation for a minimum altitude that helicopters are allowed to fly at. If they want to fly 50 feet off the ground, they can, as long as they're not posing any danger to people or property on the ground. Read the FAA regulations. You can find them online.

One of these days a drone pilot is going to kill helicopter pilot and his passengers. I hope it's not you.

Fly safe, watch for traffic, it's part of being a pilot.
2017-1-30
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fansaae2c5fd
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Labroides Posted at 2017-1-29 17:28
A lot of people imagine that planes and helicopters can't fly below 500 feet but that's wrong.
Here are the FAA rules they have to follow, take particular note of C & D:

Thank you for posting this. I'm a helicopter pilot and not very happy to be sharing my airspace with people who don't know the rules.
2017-1-30
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RedHotPoker
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DanMan32 Posted at 2017-1-29 18:08
Them stock LEDs are pretty bright.   Unlike my Syma I can see the lights quite a distance away.

From what direction?
When standing below your drone, sure, the LED's are visible. Even better at night. ;-)

For oncoming aircraft, flying at a significant speed, these under arm LED's may not be enough, to give them fair warning.


RedHotPoker
2017-1-30
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hallmark007
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DanMan32 Posted at 2017-1-29 18:08
Them stock LEDs are pretty bright.   Unlike my Syma I can see the lights quite a distance away.

If you think about it, you are limited by what height you can fly, you are limited by what distance you can fly, you always must remain with VLOS, it is a lot easier then for you to spot a manned aircraft flying low.

While I'm not familiar with FAA rules, I'm sure all above is regulated by them. It is also your responsibility to check out what areas you are flying in and the dangers that might appear.

It's not up to the app to tell you, and it's very easy to find out before you fly, I'm afraid if you had a real problem then using the excuse that app didn't tell you may very well fall on deaf ears.

If you are flying in uncontrolled air space but there is class D in the area, then a simple phone call to the air field to let them know you will be flying will suffice.

You will find that the helicopter would have to log that it was flying in that area, so why not those who fly SUA .

Thanks for posting, this kind of thing really helps. Good luck...
2017-1-31
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MJLSTUDIOS
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This chopper might have appeared below your drone, but due to your perspective at ground level might have tricked your eyes in thinking that it was! More likely than not, the chopper wasn't as close to your drone as you might think and probably flying at a higher altitude.
2017-1-31
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Mark The Droner
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Not to beat a dead horse, but one must be very very careful regarding helicopters.  The FAA gets very panicky when they see drones and helicopters flying in the same area.  If you look at the FAA fines on UAS pilots to date, there are several that involve drones and helicopters.  There are none that involve, flying out of LOS, flying too high, flying at night, etc.  When you see or hear a helicopter, best thing to do is land your drone as quickly as possible.  

Just sayin'  
2017-1-31
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Odan
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Just after the drone strike on the Space Needle there was a case where a Helicopter was flying very low over a housing development.( less then 100 feet)
Much was made of this issue. Many home owners complained to FAA.  nothing ever came of it though.
Where I live I am in a Class "D" flying zone.  I see helicopters often ( 10 or more flights/day)  There is a heli commuter service at Boeing Field.
When I talked to ATC @ Renton Mun. Airport, They said If I see a helicopter heading my way, I should drop elevation ASAP.
They know that heli's don't always follow the standard approach and this is not a violation of FAA regs.
They recommend I stay below the ridge line where I live/fly.
Telemetry Can and will be used against you......just like cell phone history for drivers.
UAS's are the new kin on the block and will be considered the intruder.
So when I see a helicopter I bring the drone down for to 50 feet or so and wait for the heli to pass and then continue flying.
These helicopters are always lower then 500 feet.  My house is at 860 feet elev. and many of these helicopters are lower then my house. ( I live on hillside)
As I was told by ATC personal......You play, You pay.   Not the A/C piolet.  
The LED's on the Phantom series are not visible from above and A/C piolets cannot see them...PERIOD.
So you can't use them as an excuse for hitting an A/C  {:4_177:} since they are not 360 degree visibility
If a drone hits an A/C......The drone owner will hang from a tree.....ATCers  own words.
Fly safe and fly smart...That is their best advice..  .
2017-1-31
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Nigel_
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You seem to be saying that the helicopter pilots regularly violate the rule posted above:
"(c) ... the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure."

In which case they ought to be in trouble if there is a collision and you are flying your aircraft within the rules including the normal 400ft limit for drones.
2017-1-31
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Mark The Droner
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Nigel_ Posted at 2017-1-31 07:18
You seem to be saying that the helicopter pilots regularly violate the rule posted above:
"(c) ... the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure."

You need to read the whole rule.  
2017-1-31
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Cetacean
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fansaae2c5fd Posted at 2017-1-30 18:20
I am a helicopter pilot and I can tell you that in the United States there is no regulation for a minimum altitude that helicopters are allowed to fly at. If they want to fly 50 feet off the ground, they can, as long as they're not posing any danger to people or property on the ground. Read the FAA regulations. You can find them online.

One of these days a drone pilot is going to kill helicopter pilot and his passengers. I hope it's not you.

Aloha fansaae2,

     It was surprising to me when I learned about that a few years ago and independently from drones no less.  Now with the new Part 107 rules where the airspace within 400 feet of a structure is Part 107 airspace and the airspace outside of 500 feet is manned aircraft airspace, are helicopters still allowed to do bridge inspections within 400 feet of a bridge. say a bridge with 200 feet clearance above water?

     Does the term "structure" change the airspace boundaries?  Would a helicopter assisting in line placement on a 300 foot tower need clearance of some sort to do the job that only a helicopter can do?  

     When I read the discussion for the proposed rulemaking (Part 107) they really simplified UAV airspace and the manned aircraft airspace.  At the time I thought it was a perfect mesh.  Now, with your reminder, it does not seem so perfect anymore.

Aloha and Drone On!
2017-1-31
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Focus4
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If you only fly your craft for fun, you don't need the FAA Remote Pilots License. BUT, it's not a bad idea to read the regulations in Part 107:

https://www.faa.gov/documentlibr ... rcular/ac_107-2.pdf

These rules exist to make the National Air Space safe for everyone. The specific rule that applies here is section 5.12: Remaining Clear of Other Aircraft.
A remote PIC has a responsibility to operate the small UA so it remains clear of and yields to all other aircraft. This is traditionally referred to as “see and avoid.” To satisfy this responsibility, the remote PIC must know the location and flight path of his or her small UA at all times. The remote PIC must be aware of other aircraft, persons, and property in the vicinity of the operating area, and maneuver the small UA to avoid a collision, as well as prevent other aircraft from having to take action to avoid the small UA.

Basically, as an unmanned aircraft, you have the lowest priority in the air and anytime you are anywhere near a manned aircraft, it is your responsibility to keep well clear. Awareness of other aircraft is of utmost priority for a drone pilot. In commercial use under Part 107 rules, the company I fly for requires a two-person team, with the second person acting as a "visual observer" whose sole responsibility is to keep an eye out for incoming aircraft, pedestrians, birds - anything that could be a hazard. Unrealistic for hobby flight, I know, but the need for that situational awareness is just as acute. You have to always be scanning the sky around you and listening for incoming aircraft.
2017-1-31
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hallmark007
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Focus4 Posted at 2017-1-31 15:22
If you only fly your craft for fun, you don't need the FAA Remote Pilots License. BUT, it's not a bad idea to read the regulations in Part 107:

https://www.faa.gov/documentlibr ... rcular/ac_107-2.pdf

Knowing the rules is something all SUA pilots should have at least a basic knowledge of, simple things like checking an aviation map of the area you intend to fly in , five minutes on line will give you this info,
I read here every day people flying 1000 meters 120 meters high not possible to have absolute VLOS, not a clue what's going on in the airspace there flying in, while they may spot an aircraft they don't seem to know that it flys taking its altitude from mean sea level, not having a clue that maybe they might meet a hand gliding school or parachute testing,
Taking 20 minutes to check this out, will give you peace of mind that you can fly enjoy be safe and also others are safe.
Happy flying and good luck..
2017-1-31
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DanMan32
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In my case I'll admit my concentration was on setting up POI above me and taking panoramic shots so I didn't hear the heli coming until the last few seconds.  Had I known it was coming I would have brought it down but then that could have made things worse.   It is the FAA B4Fly app that said my area was clear, with the only airport being Hernando Co airport about 10 miles away.   My house on the other hand is just within the 5 mile radius of the airport so I definitely need to watch out over there.
The area I was in was off of a boulevard with lots of shopping centers.  I heard that the Oak Hill hospital has a helipad which isn't on the FAA app.  I found that strange since I have found the app show in other areas a littering of heliports including hospitals.
Have I been beyond VLOS at times, yes but generally 100' or below, just enough to be sure I clear obstacles such as trees.

One thing I find strange is that FAA doesn't make it clear how to contact airports and towers.  They tell you the location but not any contact info.
They have a waiver form you can fill out for part 107, where they say there to use the form and not contact airports directly, but then it says the form is not intended for hobbyists outside of part 107.
Seems there's a lot of catch-22 going on here.
2017-2-2
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DanMan32
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MJLSTUDIOS Posted at 2017-1-31 02:56
This chopper might have appeared below your drone, but due to your perspective at ground level might have tricked your eyes in thinking that it was! More likely than not, the chopper wasn't as close to your drone as you might think and probably flying at a higher altitude.

I thought of that, and it is possible but I don't think so.  Lateral distance is a possibility but height difference I don't think so.
2017-2-2
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RedHotPoker
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DanMan32 Posted at 2017-2-2 18:17
I thought of that, and it is possible but I don't think so.  Lateral distance is a possibility but height difference I don't think so.

Bowhunters use range finders to get exact distance to our proposed prey.
Some better quality binoculars even have them built in.

Perhaps drone pilots could benefit, utilize something like that as well?  ;-)


RedHotPoker
2017-2-2
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DJI-Jamie
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Having the wrong elevation could be possible, but it shouldn't be that far off. Just to clarify, were you as close to ground level as possible or were you on a hill?
2017-2-2
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Focus4
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The B4UFLY app is not dependable. I know it is supposedly an FAA sanctioned app, but it is full of errors. You are much better off learning how to read aeronautical charts (which is a requirement for getting your Part 107 Certification) and fly the correct way. After all, if you're going to make a hobby out of flying, why not learn to do it right? Obtaining knowledge is never a bad thing and adds to the satisfaction of flying. And then learn to get your weather from skyvector.com. That's accurate information up to the minute from thousands of airports around the world. The more you do this the right way, the more fun it becomes.
2017-2-4
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hallmark007
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Focus4 Posted at 2017-2-4 05:00
The B4UFLY app is not dependable. I know it is supposedly an FAA sanctioned app, but it is full of errors. You are much better off learning how to read aeronautical charts (which is a requirement for getting your Part 107 Certification) and fly the correct way. After all, if you're going to make a hobby out of flying, why not learn to do it right? Obtaining knowledge is never a bad thing and adds to the satisfaction of flying. And then learn to get your weather from skyvector.com. That's accurate information up to the minute from thousands of airports around the world. The more you do this the right way, the more fun it becomes.

Correct good job, aeronautical maps are not that difficult to read, certainly the basics, and coupled with a bit of reading and studying, makes stuff much easier to understand.

These SUA's are considered as aircraft to the aeronautical world, we should try pay that respect back where we can..
Good luck..
2017-2-4
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DanMan32
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I downloaded AirMap and it too showed nothing where I was.  That app does show a lot more than B4UFly, including schools, hospitals and other institutions you probably should not be flying near.  It also provide contact phone numbers of airports if you are in their airspace.
I looked at one of those maps they have online.   I couldn't make it out but what I could figure out, no airports other than the main one I already knew about.   What are those Teepees?
2017-2-5
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DanMan32
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RedHotPoker Posted at 2017-2-2 21:49
Bowhunters use range finders to get exact distance to our proposed prey.
Some better quality binoculars even have them built in.

I thought of something like that too.  I'm curious as to how high the jets are over the big empty lot near where I work where jets take off and land over from/to TIA.
2017-2-5
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DanMan32
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Speaking of TIA, the area where I work is supposed to be a NFZ, so when I was showing off my drone to my colleagues, I wasn't expecting it to let me fly.  It did fly after acknowledging responsibility in the same way I do for class D space.   I only flew it 14 feet just to show it go off the ground and went higher than I expected/intended.
2017-2-5
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RedHotPoker
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DanMan32 Posted at 2017-2-5 14:26
I thought of something like that too.  I'm curious as to how high the jets are over the big empty lot near where I work where jets take off and land over from/to TIA.

Bowhunters often have great difficulty judging exact distances in the forest. Even with precut shooting lanes with distance markers. Once you are up a tree in a treestand, perspective gets skewed. Some quality compass makers like Silva, include a declination scale, to judge the angle of hills or mountain sides.
https://skyaboveus.com/wildernes ... tion-with-a-Compass
But a range finder can pinpoint exact measurements, to the quarry.
Perhaps that would help you figure out approximate height of oncoming aircraft.  Or not.

Because jets can move so fast, judging anything with them can be difficult when one second they are there, then they are gone.

I would be hesitant showing off my drone flights, that near, to any airport or military installation.
I Suppose as you said, you kept it low and close to your observers, you were ok though.


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2017-2-5
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DanMan32
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No I won't fly my P3 in open air where I work.  I am respecting that NFZ when it comes to the Phantom.   If I do fly there, I fly it in the ground level of a double deck garage.  I believe FAA considers that indoors and they do say they don't regulate indoor flights at all.
I found though that I can't even start the motors in the building where I work when it is on the floor.   Compass interference.   Only wanted to idle the props.   Managed to do it on a table instead.
Now my little Syma X5C is another matter.
2017-2-5
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Geebax
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DanMan32 Posted at 2017-2-5 16:45
No I won't fly my P3 in open air where I work.  I am respecting that NFZ when it comes to the Phantom.   If I do fly there, I fly it in the ground level of a double deck garage.  I believe FAA considers that indoors and they do say they don't regulate indoor flights at all.
I found though that I can't even start the motors in the building where I work when it is on the floor.   Compass interference.   Only wanted to idle the props.   Managed to do it on a table instead.
Now my little Syma X5C is another matter.

'I found though that I can't even start the motors in the building where I work when it is on the floor.'

I bet that is a concrete floor.
2017-2-5
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RedHotPoker
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DanMan32 Posted at 2017-2-5 16:45
No I won't fly my P3 in open air where I work.  I am respecting that NFZ when it comes to the Phantom.   If I do fly there, I fly it in the ground level of a double deck garage.  I believe FAA considers that indoors and they do say they don't regulate indoor flights at all.
I found though that I can't even start the motors in the building where I work when it is on the floor.   Compass interference.   Only wanted to idle the props.   Managed to do it on a table instead.
Now my little Syma X5C is another matter.

I doubt the Syma would be a dangerous hazard to most large aircraft.  

But it would likely be the same end, if it got in jet engine. Best to avoid that area, or as stated, only fly them smaller drones indoors.


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2017-2-5
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DanMan32
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Geebax Posted at 2017-2-5 16:49
'I found though that I can't even start the motors in the building where I work when it is on the floor.'

I bet that is a concrete floor.

Yes, I am sure the floors have rebar.   On the other hand, it was a corner office so there could have been steel beam supports in the floor.
2017-2-5
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DanMan32
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RedHotPoker Posted at 2017-2-5 16:52
I doubt the Syma would be a dangerous hazard to most large aircraft.  

But it would likely be the same end, if it got in jet engine. Best to avoid that area, or as stated, only fly them smaller drones indoors.

The Syma requires constant attention, so if I heard an aircraft coming, I'd bring it below tree level.  They really can't go more than 100 feet before losing signal, then they come down within 3 seconds of losing signal.
2017-2-5
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RedHotPoker
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DanMan32 Posted at 2017-2-5 19:26
The Syma requires constant attention, so if I heard an aircraft coming, I'd bring it below tree level.  They really can't go more than 100 feet before losing signal, then they come down within 3 seconds of losing signal.

Most smaller drones need to be within a close proximity to the RC. So that's not unusual. But being that they are so small, you would lose sight of them, at a greater distance. I find it interesting Tutsi many micro drones now have FPV cameras and that you can use goggles or a device to fly them. A very good example of them, is the popular Tiny Whoop. A palm sized drone, with plenty of speed and endurance. The only negative, would be its short battery life.

RedHotPoker
2017-2-5
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DanMan32
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There are enthusiasts that fly the micros in the parking garage 9pm Thursday evenings.   Makes my Syma look like their older big brother.   The Phantom would look like King Kong next to them.
2017-2-6
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Heligal
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Cetacean Posted at 2017-1-31 14:23
Aloha fansaae2,

     It was surprising to me when I learned about that a few years ago and independently from drones no less.  Now with the new Part 107 rules where the airspace within 400 feet of a structure is Part 107 airspace and the airspace outside of 500 feet is manned aircraft airspace, are helicopters still allowed to do bridge inspections within 400 feet of a bridge. say a bridge with 200 feet clearance above water?

Sorry for the delay in response. I don't visit the forums regularly.

There is no minimum altitude REQUIREMENT for helicopters. Helicopters are subject to the same REQUESTED minimums as other aircraft over wilderness areas (for example) but they can legally fly just about anywhere they want. Of course, it's the pilot's judgement call. Buzzing people's homes or other structures will likely get them in hot water with the FAA.

The point is, don't expect helicopters to avoid your drone. They can't see it and can be flying below its maximum limit of 400 feet.

Fortunately, we can hear helicopters coming. When you hear one, spot it, and take evasive action. This is the drone pilot's responsibility.
2017-11-10
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