kivak

Flight within 5mi of Unmanned, Untowered, Private airports

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Hello everyone,

I just got my first drone (!!) and I am already up to my eyeballs in these regulations. I would like to fly my drone (DJI Mavik) as a hobbyist just to get some practice and have fun. However...

I happen to live within 5 miles (but further than 3) of two airports: MD95 and 2MD5. Both of them are private, untowered, no ATC, no instrument guidance, have dirt runways, and one of them is completely unattended. (I saw several other posts on the forum about this issue, but the airports appeared to be larger) Based on what I've read, it appears that I would need to contact the owner or operator of both before each flight to let them know I'm flying as a hobbyist. Does that sound right? I half expect to not get any answer if I call these places. I also wonder if they want me calling every other day when I take the drone for a spin.

I am also under the impression that if I got a Part 017 Drone Certificate, that would allow me to fly without notification - since it appears to be uncontrolled space. But does that require me to be under commercial operation? Or can I fly recreational under the same rules with a certification?

I am just trying to figure out the safest way to fly that, hopefully, won't require me to give two people a ring every other day I want to fly for a few minutes.

Thanks!

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Hello @kivak and welcome to the forum.

Flying as a hobbyist does mean you need to notify any airport/heliport and ATC that's within 5 miles. The FAA's B4UFLY mobile app may help provide contact information.

https://www.faa.gov/uas/where_to_fly/b4ufly/

If you fly under part 107 then technically you don't need to notify them but others on this forum have suggested notifying them anyway. 

The park where I often fly is within 5 miles of a hospital heliport and although I have my part 107 certification I always fly as a hobbyist since being an AMA member I am covered by their insurance. I must admit though I have had problems getting hold of anyone to actually speak to and have just left voice messages.

 

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Hi @kivak

In addition to what @Spitfire76 has commented, if you plan to regularly fly in the same area, you can let the airport know once.  Something like;

 "I live at "" and I am going to be flying my rc below 400' every afternoon (or whatever)."

You need not contact them every individual time.

Quote

Model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator.

Source:  https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/AC_91-57A_Ch_1.pdf

see 6c(5)

Edited by Dave Pitman

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@Spitfire76 nails it! That voice mail message is sufficient under FAA rules for notification provided that you give them a contact method if they have a major problem with your operation.  They can't deny it but they must be provided with a way to contact you.  In addition, @Dave Pitman offers another option.  If you and the airport can agree, you can arrange a letter of agreement that will be OK with FAA.

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Thank you all for the feedback! Based on your suggestions, I will contact the owners and attempt to establish a long term use. Since these airports are rarely used, I'm hoping the owners don't mind setting up some written statement.

@Spitfire76 You mentioned that you don't fly as a hobbyist under Part 107 because of insurance through AMA? Is that the only reason? Part 107 seemed to me a lot more flexible than hobbyist.

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I contacted both managers about long term use a few minutes ago. Fortunately, I got both managers on the phone and they were unconcerned about the activity. They were friendly and neither cared to write things down - one of them didn't even want my cell phone for return calls (apparently operations have ceased). Posting this as much to inform as keeping a record of the conversation.

Thanks again for bringing clarity to and confirming these regulations! :)

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Well, that's great.  However, I would send a letter to both thanking them for their cooperation and briefly summing up the conversation as a record.  Congrats!

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Just now, Ed O'Grady said:

Well, that's great.  However, I would send a letter to both thanking them for their cooperation and briefly summing up the conversation as a record.  Congrats!

Great idea! Thank you

That actually brings up another question -- do drone operators usually have log books for flight dates/times/duration/etc like is standard for pilots?

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2 hours ago, kivak said:

@Spitfire76 You mentioned that you don't fly as a hobbyist under Part 107 because of insurance through AMA? Is that the only reason? Part 107 seemed to me a lot more flexible than hobbyist.

I build and fly my own UAVs and haven't yet done any commercial flying so there is no need for me to fly under Part 107. The $75 annual AMA membership includes insurance coverage providing of course I comply with their safety guidelines.

Also they now offer commercial insurance for their members for an additional fee.

https://quote.modelaircraft.org

You may be aware of this but registration is also different for hobbyist and commercial operators. Hobbyist only have to register only once irrespective of the number of UAVs they own but commercial operators have to register each UAV they fly commercial.

https://faadronezone.faa.gov/

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5 hours ago, kivak said:

Great idea! Thank you

That actually brings up another question -- do drone operators usually have log books for flight dates/times/duration/etc like is standard for pilots?

Absolutely. There is more paperwork to flying than actual flying.

https://www.amazon.com/Drone-Operators-Logbook-Jonathan-Rupprecht/dp/1519653603/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1532035491&sr=8-4&keywords=drone+pilot+logbook&dpID=410G2wz6fSL&preST=_SX218_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

The above is the link to the one I use (paper copy) and I also track everything in Drone Logbook online (https://www.dronelogbook.com). There are other variations of both online that are easy enough to find.

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8 hours ago, kivak said:

I contacted both managers about long term use a few minutes ago. Fortunately, I got both managers on the phone and they were unconcerned about the activity.

That is fairly typical.  Glad you didn't have any problems.  There is still a lot of irony in how uas are handled.  For example, there is a surface class E airport near me that prohibits part 107 activities without a COA, yet there is a hobby rc field adjacent to the main runway that has been active for years.

Unfortunately it will be some time I think before all the kinks get worked out.  At least they are trying though!

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I face this dilemma as well and have four heliports within five miles of my home.  I have part 107 certification and probably am not technically required to notify them.  In any case, I wrote a USPS letter to each of them and told them my plans, phone number, certification number etc.  I got a return call from one of them--a hospital heliport--and the manager said he didn't know anything about drone rules, but would get back with me.  He never did.  I also have Dominion Energy's heliport within five miles, and again no response until I posted it on Facebook.  The response I got was a mumbled answer about not needing to contact them because of my Part 107 cert.  I tried to call all of them after that.  I got no response from another hospital heliport from either my letter or phone call.  And, the fourth one did not have a phone number in  service.  I keep all of my correspondence in my logging binder in case anyone asks whether I have permission or not.

I go to a county park to practice and have a letter from the county department of parks that says they allow anyone to fly drones in all of their parks.  I have one class G airport within five miles of the park.  They asked me to call them each time I fly there.  I do, and they post a NOTAM each time.  The information is simple and looks like this:  image.png.e172af4e23ba8bd400a2f2aab1e2939a.png

Deciphering it into English, it shows this information:

KOFP - Hanover County Airport
06/015  June #15 (the number of notams issued during June so far)
OFP - FAA Airport code
UAS - Drone
With an Area defined as 0.1 nautical mile radius
Location:  RIC (the only airport nearby with VOR equipment)
327 compass degrees
014 nautical miles from RIC
(4 nautical miles southwest of Hanover county airport)
Surface to 300 feet above ground level (I can set this anywhere up to 400 feet, if I want to)
2018 June 29  from 1100 zulu time (UTC) to 2018 June 29 1400 zulu time (UTC)

I take my logbook to the field each time I fly and have one section devoted to certifications and current paperwork so I can show any pertinent information right away, if asked.
Hope this is helpful.
Stan Nickel

Edited by NickStan
Additional information

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