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Flying over Stonehenge and staying within the rules...
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Wellsi
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So the other week I did some filming down at Stonehenge, after closing time, without crowds and without English Heritage's permission.  

As I understand the rules, as a hobbyist without PFCO, I am permitted to fly more than 50 metres away from structures or people. as long as I keep in VLOS and am not in a no fly zone.
English Heritage (wrongly) state you cannot fly over their properties unless you pay them a hefty approval fee and have a PFCO.  I see this as a similar situation in US National Parks, where all the land owner can do is prohibit you from controlling the drone on their land.  

English Heritage don't control airspace!  The CAA does.

In this case, I wasn't on their land; I checked with National Air Traffic Control and confirmed there is indeed a restricted airspace immediately north of the Stones, but even that is only resticted and the guidance from NATS is Fly With Caution and obey the CAA Drone Code. However I did not fly into that airspace anyway.

By waiting for closing time, I've A, not annoyed the tourists, and more importantly B, avoided falling foul of the 'crowded areas' rule.
I'm not after arguments, but I am genuinely interested in people's views on this. I try and promote safe flying that sticks to the rules.
So as I see it, this was a perfectly valid flight.  And quite a lovely one I thought....  


cheers

Ian



2018-6-8
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Rockbyter
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Nice, thanks for sharing.
2018-6-8
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FlyDK
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I watched this earlier on your YT channel and commented over there. But again I have to say that this is a really nice video.
Since I'm not from UK I do not want to comment on the drone rules.
2018-6-8
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davidmartingraf
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They say the hardest places to get to are usually the most beautiful. It's always nice if you do go to these places to have a drone around.
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A CW
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Excellent video Ian.
In my view, once the drone is airborne the flight is regulated by the UK CAA who are the national authority that control the airspace across the United Kingdom. The laws for flying UAV's in the UK are written in the Air Navigation Order which is a legal act and simplified regulations are stipulated in the drone code - the latter is not even a legal directive as legally you can even fly a drone 1000' AGL in the UK as long as manned aircraft are not placed at risk whilst the code stipulates 400' AGL as a guideline.
The drone code is a set of best practice regulations and it is required that you only take off/land on property that is either in your immediate control i.e. your own property or family member/friends property or that you have permission from the land owner or take off from public land/access points that has not prohibited model aircraft. So you can't take off from National Trust land but flying over that land is fine IMO.
Once the drone is off the land no act of trespass can take place as the drone is literally in the air and land owners do not own the airspace above their land.
The guidelines for not taking off within 30m of any people, vehicles and buildings not in your control and increasing that restriction to 50m during flight is for drones with cameras as that is the requirement under the Data Protection Act to protect the privacy of those also not in your control. However, you can fly over people at 50m (which is 165' AGL or higher).
Congested areas are different whereby you are not allowed to fly within the cylindrical radius of 150m (nearly 500') of any area where there are 1,000 people or more + residential areas, industrial areas, schools, hospitals, prisons, busy public roads, cities etc.
IMPO your flight is not illegal. You are 'far away from airports', not placing manned aircraft at risk and thus not within a NFZ. You waited for the crowds to disappear and that made the area non congested. The henge would be considered a building not in your control but as long as you were at least 165' above it and the drone in VLOS then that rule and law is not broken either.
Unless the drone malfunctioned and crashed into the henge then I do believe the national trust have no legal ground to enforce any restrictions. Should the drone have crashed you would probably have been in far more trouble than crashing into the sea though, put it that way.
It is one of those situations where pseudo laws are imposed by people who don't know the actual law. Until someone is caught, prosecuted and stands on the dock in court with a precedent set in the verdict then it is a grey area and down to the pilot to judge whether the risk is worth it. You'll need a top lawyer if caught, that's for sure!  
2018-6-8
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Montfrooij
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Always hard to stay within everybody's rules....

2018-6-8
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Woe
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Very nice video
2018-6-8
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gnirtS
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Its a good point, many bodies state *incorrectly* they will not allow drone overflights over their land.  English Heritage, Cadw, the utterly abhorrent National Trust and so on.  Even private farms with lavender fields have websites saying its not allowed.

Quite simply they can ban access to and therefore takeoff/landing from their land but cannot prevent overflights.
Ultimately provided you're following the laws as set out in the air navigation act (line of sight, fly responsibly, not within 50m of person or structure or 150m of a built up area or crowd (you COULD argue a tourist attraction qualifies for 150m maybe...) you're fine.  The only other laws to be aware of are data protection and privacy laws along with public nuisance laws which COULD be applied if flying like an idiot.  They're entitled to fair use of their land by law and court cases in the past have settled on usually 90ft or so maximum for that.
Ultimately if you're at a safe height, not doing anything annoying such as following an individual, hovering creating a disturbance and so on they cant do anything despite what they claim.

It'd be nice if the bodies very publicly making an incorrect legal statement were told to remove those statements by the authorities as currently they're scaring people off with non existent laws.

Should the drone have crashed you would probably have been in far more trouble than crashing into the sea though, put it that way.


Well they'd be required to return the drone for starters.  Also if the takeoff/landing didnt happen from their propertly then legally theres very little they can do.  Possible enforce a by-law fine for 'landing' .  Their bylaws maximum fine is £20 plus £2 a day after that.  Its almost worth doing just to make a point.
Some bodies such as national trust have the power to enact bylaws.  Whether they can ban overflight is legally questionable and untested (and very unlikely to be the case).  Either way, none of their bylaws specifically prohibit overflights at all, it simply isnt on their books.  Until that point its a non-issue anyway.  If you ask them for the specific bylaws they fail to provide them.



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SparksBird
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Love the video.  Always wanted to see in person stonehenge.  
2018-6-8
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A CW
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gnirtS Posted at 2018-6-8 13:55
Its a good point, many bodies state *incorrectly* they will not allow drone overflights over their land.  English Heritage, Cadw, the utterly abhorrent National Trust and so on.  Even private farms with lavender fields have websites saying its not allowed.

Quite simply they can ban access to and therefore takeoff/landing from their land but cannot prevent overflights.

Don't forget the cost of repairing stonehenge... Which would also make the headlines no doubt being a national landmark which US Presidents like to visit.
And that was exactly my point, the whole by-law is questionable when it involves airspace. Land is certain - but fly overs in accordance with CAA regs will be difficult to prosecute. It's not a risk I'm personally willing to take as I'm not one who likes to be summoned to court just to record a video but equally, people can't play drone police with this video as technically it is not illegal.  
2018-6-8
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ssunman1
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I loved it.  Beautiful countryside.  Great subjects to capture from the air.  Nice job.
2018-6-8
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dwainwayne28
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This is great. i enjoyed watching.. thanks for sharing and keep up the good work!
2018-6-8
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M K ULTRA
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Looks good to me.  I would think that one drone flying around after hours shouldn't be a problem.  
2018-6-8
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Ken Storm
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Simply wonderful, and as far as i understand the drone code, legal.
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Wellsi
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A CW Posted at 2018-6-8 14:21
Don't forget the cost of repairing stonehenge... Which would also make the headlines no doubt being a national landmark which US Presidents like to visit.
And that was exactly my point, the whole by-law is questionable when it involves airspace. Land is certain - but fly overs in accordance with CAA regs will be difficult to prosecute. It's not a risk I'm personally willing to take as I'm not one who likes to be summoned to court just to record a video but equally, people can't play drone police with this video as technically it is not illegal.

Thanks for the inputs... thanks to everyone in fact, but CW, your opinion was important to me, and I'm pleased you interpret things as I did.  
I did so much checking up before I did this flight.  It's clearly bringing out the drone police though; most of my videos have less than 5% dislikes versus 95% likes.  This one is split 50:50   But there you are; anything that promotes discussion and an actual better understanding of the rules is good in my books...
Cheers again
Ian
2018-6-8
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M2Wair
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Andy ACW summed it up perfectly. You broke no laws whatsoever, so a good flight.

The footage was wonderful, really enjoyed it. Well done indeed.
2018-6-8
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Rawsome
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awesome!!!
2018-6-8
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Rawsome
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awesome!!!!!
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A CW
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Wellsi Posted at 2018-6-8 15:49
Thanks for the inputs... thanks to everyone in fact, but CW, your opinion was important to me, and I'm pleased you interpret things as I did.  
I did so much checking up before I did this flight.  It's clearly bringing out the drone police though; most of my videos have less than 5% dislikes versus 95% likes.  This one is split 50:50   But there you are; anything that promotes discussion and an actual better understanding of the rules is good in my books...
Cheers again

That's not surprising, even drone users don't know the intricacies of UK aviation law and will feel quite protective of such a landmark given it's immense historic value (the site pre dates Christ).
Whilst you are a very experienced drone pilot it may send out a message for some noob with his or her first drone to head out and capture stone henge which will increase the risk of someone crashing into it. Once that happens I image the whole area would be geo fenced as a red zone and another nail in the drone hobbyist coffin. Personally, I consider landmarks congested areas even when there is nobody around. 500' away and not over just to be extra safe so if my drone crashed it would not end up hitting such a valuable structure. But yes, you did nothing wrong here in the strict context of aviation law and that's why you walked back to your car and drove home to edit the beautiful footage rather than being taken away in the back of a police car... Had you done this in the middle of a busy afternoon they would of looked for you for sure and no doubt found you
2018-6-8
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Picanoc Jack
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super video! Thanks for sharing,
2018-6-8
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mickongen
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Very nice movie..
2018-6-8
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Wachtberger
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Fantastic footage, thank you very much! Did you do it with the Air or with the Pro?
2018-6-9
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Wellsi
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Wachtberger Posted at 2018-6-9 00:42
Fantastic footage, thank you very much! Did you do it with the Air or with the Pro?

The Pro.  I wanted rock steady signal with no issues whatsoever   

Ian
2018-6-9
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Wachtberger
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Wellsi Posted at 2018-6-9 01:44
The Pro.  I wanted rock steady signal with no issues whatsoever   

Ian

Thank you.
2018-6-9
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hallmark007
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Great video Wellsi, I don’t know about you but when flying as a hobbyist I find the real pleasure is when there is no one around, although I believe most are more intrigued than annoyed, but for most pilots I think it’s always nagging at the back of your mind, so it’s great to get out there just you and your drone and a great location it can be bliss sometimes.
Great job.
2018-6-9
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Wellsi
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hallmark007 Posted at 2018-6-9 02:14
Great video Wellsi, I don’t know about you but when flying as a hobbyist I find the real pleasure is when there is no one around, although I believe most are more intrigued than annoyed, but for most pilots I think it’s always nagging at the back of your mind, so it’s great to get out there just you and your drone and a great location it can be bliss sometimes.
Great job.

Absolutely.... I've only ever had interested and friendly people come up to me, but however well-intentioned, it's a huge distraction and can easily lead to mistakes, so I always prefer flying far away from anyone....  that way you have full focus on the flight, position and camera work....

Ian
2018-6-9
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ghostrdr
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Nice video but you're driving on the wrong side of the road!
2018-6-9
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Guido-Italy
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fantastic place thanks to share it !
2018-6-9
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Gadgetman!
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IANAL and all that, but...

In the case of drones and oher RC aircraft, when they mention 'land under your direct control' they don't usually mean land that you own, but an area that you have physical/visual control of then and there.
So that no bystander happens to wander onto the landing site when your drone 'drops from the sky' in a critical low battery situation or otherwise comes into conflict with your low-level handling of the drone.

You may own your back yard, but if there's a gaggle of 5year olds running loose there, you're not even remotely in control of the area...  

2018-6-9
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Hummingbird.UAV
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I cannot comment on British drone laws other than they are more lenient than Canadian drone laws.  If I were to fly near Stonehenge I would be wearing an orange safety vest.  Its been my experience that on lookers are much less likely to hassle or report you because the vest makes you look "Official".
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B1houdini
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Ian.
That was a spectacular video.
It was good enough to be part of the National Geographic  series.

Don't know if this applies.
A CW  would have a better handle on this ,being from there, then I would.

From what I read Drone flying over any ENGLISH HERITAGE SITES are not permitted.
Stonehenge is under their jurisdiction.
From their site:
All operators must submit the following documentation for consideration:
a current and valid CAA 'Permission for Aerial Work' (PFAW);
evidence of valid insurance cover;
a risk assessment for the proposed flight;
a method statement, to include a flight plan and a technical specifications document for all equipment to be used.
All operators must also attend a pre-booked recce visit with a member of English Heritage Trust staff prior to their flight. Any drone flying can only take place when a site is closed to the public.
We reserve the right to decline any application and will not approve requests from any pilot(s) seeking permission in return for rights of access to footage captured.  

All pilots seeking permission to fly a drone or UAV must be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and all flights are subject to a strict approval process and a booking fee.

For me it was still an excellent video.
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A CW
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B1houdini Posted at 2018-6-9 08:58
Ian.
That was a spectacular video.
It was good enough to be part of the National Geographic  series.

That info is spot on B1 - it's the pseudo laws that I was referring to earlier. It totally conflicts with the drone code. Basically the heritage trust are treating the drone industry as a cash cow under a mask of public safety. If flying drones was such a risk then they would simply ban it - not permit it to those willing to pay through the nose to fly. Still, they have to catch you and if you're not on their land then they can not touch you!  
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Suren
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Nice video there Ian
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gnirtS
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RE: Flying over Stonehenge and staying within the rules...

B1houdini Posted at 2018-6-9 08:58
Ian.
That was a spectacular video.
It was good enough to be part of the National Geographic  series.

His point is although E.H, National Trust and others CLAIM its illegal to overfly their land it isnt actually the case.  They are making a claim that simply isn't true.

I could write similar wording banning overflight of my garden and put it on a website but likewise, its also not true.

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Wellsi
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B1houdini Posted at 2018-6-9 08:58
Ian.
That was a spectacular video.
It was good enough to be part of the National Geographic  series.

Cheers all again.....
Yes, I read up on both the National Trust's and English Heritage's websites and was pretty disappointed with what I read.  It's even worse as this time last year, English Heritage had a simple blanket ban, basing it on privacy laws. Equally wrong, but it seems now they've workled out a way to try and make money from it....

I always check where I'm flying with the NATS Drone Assist app. National Air Traffic Conrol control our air space and enact all the no fly zones (even the temporary one in place over my house today for the Queen's flypast). So it's their rules and interpretations that count.  
But in saying all that, I fully get EH and the NT's view; they have their visitors to think of and no one wants' buzzing drones around them when they're trying to block out the sounds of screaming kids everywhere.......  




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B1houdini
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A CW Posted at 2018-6-9 09:12
That info is spot on B1 - it's the pseudo laws that I was referring to earlier. It totally conflicts with the drone code. Basically the heritage trust are treating the drone industry as a cash cow under a mask of public safety. If flying drones was such a risk then they would simply ban it - not permit it to those willing to pay through the nose to fly. Still, they have to catch you and if you're not on their land then they can not touch you!

Thanks A CW.

As Wellsi stated in post #35.

"Their rules are based on privacy laws."
I don't know what they are in UK but in the US if we fly over people , animals, or homes it could be considered against FAA rules. Even at 400 feet people could file a complaint against the operator.

In response to gnirts post #34 . There is a very old  obscure law in the US that the owner of the home owns the space from ground to heaven. So in the US he could in theory ban flying over his garden. Having it enforced is another story.

There is always a fine line when it comes to Laws. It comes down to who is interpreting them.



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A CW
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B1houdini Posted at 2018-6-9 10:52
Thanks A CW.

As Wellsi stated in post #35.

That's true and until someone is prosecuted it will remain a grey area. The official law here is more than 50m away from people, buildings, vehicles with a camera drone but you can fly over them. Congested areas are different though.
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B1houdini
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A CW Posted at 2018-6-9 11:17
That's true and until someone is prosecuted it will remain a grey area. The official law here is more than 50m away from people, buildings, vehicles with a camera drone but you can fly over them. Congested areas are different though.

Our rules are about the same except Industry recommendations for drone pilots is to stay at least 20 feet above and 10 feet to the side of people.
The FAA states ,to stay away from all people who aren't involved with the flight.  In other words it is not permitted to fly over people. Includes groups or just one person. Once again there is a fine line here on the law. Flying 400 feet over homes you are probably flying over people.

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A CW
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B1houdini Posted at 2018-6-9 11:39
Our rules are about the same except Industry recommendations for drone pilots is to stay at least 20 feet above and 10 feet to the side of people.
The FAA states ,to stay away from all people who aren't involved with the flight.  In other words it is not permitted to fly over people. Includes groups or just one person. Once again there is a fine line here on the law. Flying 400 feet over homes you are probably flying over people.

It's so hard to regulate let alone legalise drone laws. Common sense plays a big part.
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B1houdini
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A CW Posted at 2018-6-9 11:41
It's so hard to regulate let alone legalise drone laws. Common sense plays a big part.

"Common sense" is the answer.
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