Alan Perlman

Flying a Drone on Kauai

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Hi folks! Will be traveling to Kauai in April 2018 and plan to bring my DJI Mavic Air.

This would be Part 107 flying. I wanted to crowdsource my research a bit, as so far I'm finding a lot of out-of-date info on various websites and want to do as much due diligence as possible before the trip.

So here's where I'm at so far. The Class D airspace is pretty easy to spot. And I read that I'm not allowed to fly in Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge.

Just wanted to do a gut check and make sure I wasn't missing anything. Also, any good places you'd recommend to fly? Can't wait to explore the island, both from ground and from air :)

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We had a similar issue here in my county in Georgia.  "The use, launching or landing of drones or other types of aircraft is prohibited." that's what  Hawaii says but I understand they can regulate the launch or landing on State property, but not the airspace.  Am I missing something?

 

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3 hours ago, Dave Pitman said:

Hi Alan,  I've seen the question before.  Besides the class D,  National and State parks are no drone zones.  Also watch out for helis.  The absolute best solution would be to bring me along as a VO, lol.   

Have Fun!

Thanks @Dave Pitman! Now it's time to scout out some prime flying locations. Wasn't aware of the state park ban, thanks for sharing the link above.

I wasn't aware of this crash. That's awful and will put local authorities on heightened alert :(

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2 hours ago, Dave Pitman said:

Hi Ed,  Yes,  Hawaii state parks.

http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/park-rules/

I thought the Republic of California was he worse when it comes to over regulated paranoia, bu lt after reading that lists, maybe not!  

What I don’t get is why a 3500 pound sight seeing helicopter can fly around but it’s too dangerous for a 15 pound drone?  ‘Cause you know a drone makes a whole lot more noise than a helicopter..

So if your rich and can afford the tour, good on ya, but if you can’t, piss off.  Stay on the sidewalk with the rest of us poor slobs.  If that’s the attitude in the states, go to New Zealand...

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Aloha Alan! 

Another couple pieces of info...

DLNR Wildlife and Forest Reserves are also off limits (same as state parks).

While YouTube and Facebook are chock full of overhead whale vids from Hawaii, they are illegal. Whales in the state may not be approached by any aircraft closer than 1000ft. Of course NOAA breaks their own rule weekly by using drones to study  the humpbacks.

Lastly, if you detour to Maui, hit me up! 

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1 hour ago, JBR LIFE Photography said:

NOAA breaks their own rule weekly by using drones to study  the humpbacks.

You know that you can get a permit to fly within 100 feet.

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On paper, yes, but this is not the mainland, brah...(I'm sure you've heard that before).  Permitting here is a luxury, not a right.  Example:  Hawai'i has been a concealed carry permit state for a good 20yrs now.  They've yet to ever issue a single permit.  Another example:  A friend of ours just started his ocean kayak tour company.  He's been waiting on a permit for coming up on 6 months now, with no word on expectation of issue.  It all boils down to a single guy in a single office, deciding for himself when and what to approve.  NOAA operates similarly from what I've found.  I even offered volunteer drone work on the whale research & entanglement crew.  Got a nice smiling face saying, 'That sounds great, we'll see what we can do'.  No follow-up, and all attempts have proven futile.

Meanwhile, whale boats can be within 300ft of humpbacks, all day long, sometimes encircling the whales.  

 

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We’ve been a part of whale research that had a permit for the past three seasons.  I find the whole process very hypocritical. We always come up on boats that have drones in the air and the researchers want us to take pictures of the offenders while we do pretty much the same thing. 

The whales don’t care about the permit.  Also I often get the feeling the researchers don’t care about the whales.  Sometimes it feels like they care more about getting great shots that only they can get because they have a permit.  Ever wonder where the great whale shots in all those fancy galleries comes from?  

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Hi Alan

I live in Kauai and just getting into Drones.  My son, who is currently at UH, Manoa, has flown FPV at several locations here on Kauai.  He does know pt. 107 well and is able comply.  All that said, there is not much enforcement here, during the New Years fireworks celebration, we observed no less then 6 drones flying at the country park at night above a crowd of 200 to 300 people attempting to capture the fireworks.    

He typical flies at a privately owned park for Frisbee golf in Popui.  There are locations near port allen/salt pond he has flown, just contact the airport ahead of time.  If interested, I can forward more info.

Kauai is a great place to explore, lots of options for hiking, beaching and surfing!   

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Aloha @JBR LIFE Photography, thanks for the tips!

Do you either you or @JDH know - If I was in the water, off the coast of a State Park like the NaPali coastline, and I were to take off from a sea kayak or small boat, is that permissible? Not sure I've come across this particular airspace situation before.

Even so, I'd need to do a lot more research on normal helicopter traffic in the area. I could imagine getting some great low shots in the 50-100 ft. AGL range.

@JDH, that's interesting (but not surprising I suppose) to hear about the lack of enforcement. Would love to connect with your son to learn more about safe / fun / legal places to fly on Kauai. I have about 3-4 days and am crossing my fingers for good weather and the opportunity to explore the island and fly where I can. Thanks for hopping into this thread. My email is alan@uavcoach.com.

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1 minute ago, Alan Perlman said:

Aloha @JBR LIFE Photography, thanks for the tips!

Do you either you or @JDH know - If I was in the water, off the coast of a State Park like the NaPali coastline, and I were to take off from a sea kayak or small boat, is that permissible? Not sure I've come across this particular airspace situation before.

Even so, I'd need to do a lot more research on normal helicopter traffic in the area. I could imagine getting some great low shots in the 50-100 ft. AGL range.

@JDH, that's interesting (but not surprising I suppose) to hear about the lack of enforcement. Would love to connect with your son to learn more about safe / fun / legal places to fly on Kauai. I have about 3-4 days and am crossing my fingers for good weather and the opportunity to explore the island and fly where I can. Thanks for hopping into this thread. My email is alan@uavcoach.com.

As far as I understand, you'd be legal launching from the boat kayak.  From what I've gathered, there's a considerable amount of heli traffic, so be on high alert.  Have fun!

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Hello @Alan Perlman, I will be in Kauai next month and am researching the same question - where can and can't I fly my drone. Are you able to update this feed with your experience from last year? Thank you so much! Cheers, Jane 

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12 hours ago, Jane said:

Hello @Alan Perlman, I will be in Kauai next month and am researching the same question - where can and can't I fly my drone. Are you able to update this feed with your experience from last year? Thank you so much! Cheers, Jane 

Hey, definitely check out Shipwreck Beach. It's an approachable hike and a great spot to fly! Watch out for wind gusts :)

I also found a couple of lookout points in the Princeville area that were fun to fly. There was a huge flood the week before we got there, so a lot of the island wasn't accessible and I couldn't explore as much as I would've liked, but some good spots to fly.

Avoid the state parks! That's the big rule in the state of Hawaii.

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I have been in Kauai the last two Junes. My first trip was made with a Phantom 3, second was a Mavic Pro (MUCH easier to travel with I will say!).

I will say the helo traffic is out of control; you must have a VO. I was not Part 107 at the time but I was slightly scared with all the air traffic. There were often times when you would lose one helo off to your left, another would come in from the other side of where you were wanting to fly, with that said, my wife and I would often scrap a flight before we even took off since there was so much air traffic. As always...always yield to manned aircraft!

I will say there is some phenomenal landscapes around the island. I flew a few times around the Ke Ala Hele Makalae Path (Just north of Kapa'a on Kuhio Hwy), there is a lot of parking there right off the road. You can also fly at Opaekaa Falls (Class D from Lihue is just to the south of this location, stay in the gorge you will be fine). At the time, I also took some video at Wailua Falls, however in looking now that probably wasn't very legal and wasn't a good choice. Again, I now have my Part 107 and am more aware of my airspace.

Up in the Princeville area, we were staying close to Wylie's Beach so I gathered a lot of clips from out there. Also got some footage from Queen's Bath, which is not supposedly closed to the public due to trespassing issues. Also got some incredible footage around Turtle Cave.

Similar to @Alan Perlman's experience, flooding still had the areas past Hanalei closed to the public in June 2018 which was a big disappointment as we had been planning on hitting that area since we did not the year before. 

Port Allen offers the port city of Kauai, there is a lot of maritime activity in that area, day trip charters, freight, personal watercraft, etc. Not sure what kind of stuff you are looking for.

Hopefully this has been informative...enjoy Kauai for me, we will not be returning this year, going elsewhere! 

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