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A question about FAA regulations I thought I understood

Discussion in 'Rules and Regulations' started by jiggyb21, Mar 16, 2016.

  1. jiggyb21

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    Sorry for the length.

    I live in a very rural town. It's in a valley maybe two miles wide where The Green Mtns and Appalachian Mountains flank both sides. There is one tiny, old runway in town where I would guess a plane takes off once a month. You can always hear when a plane is nearby because the sound bounces off the mountains. Once in a while a military plane will also fly overhead. The lowest flying plane I have ever seen is probably a 1000ft. Usually very small prop planes taking off or going to the airport or an airport in a neighboring town. Until today I never thought for a second I would need to worry or even think about it. I know we have pilots here on these forums and I hope one of them can chime in.

    I was standing in the living room of a customer's house house today when she said" Oh look, there's Bob!!" (not real name). From the window, I see a big green plane, flying very LOW! I would definitely say below 500ft no doubt. I run to the window in an adjacent room to see the plane bank hard right and continue up the valley and out of sight. I turned around and asked, "Who?" She told me he was a Civil Air Pilot that grew up in the town. Apparently his father was also a pilot who crashed in a freak storm years and years ago and when ever he's in the area he flies over his mother's house and tips a wing. Touching story but he was LOW, and what makes this crazy to me is that this is a place I frequently fly. I guarantee I have flown within 100ft of his line today. Now I know I'm not supposed to fly above 400ft and I thought "they" weren't supposed to fly below 1000ft. What am I missing?

    What I really want to know is the legality of this. He was absolutely not taking off or landing anywhere within 50 miles of where I saw him. Is he allowed to fly that low? There are no NFZ's anywhere around me. He was flying pretty fast and came out of nowhere. Can anyone clarify the laws as it pertains to this? Thanks.
     
  2. bwhaler11

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    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. Helicopters may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section if the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface. In addition, each person operating a helicopter shall comply with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the Administrator.
     
  3. flpholt

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    he is not aloud below 500 feet but stupid people due stupid things
     
  4. jiggyb21

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    So if my town could be explained away as C) "other than congested", he theoretically could go as low as 500ft? Am I understanding that right? The town has 5000 people in it but it's spread out.
     
  5. Air Ontario

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    Yes, although I have seen Transport Canada consider anything much more than a farmhouse congested/buit up area so......

    It usually comes down to the event and how bad the Gov Agency wants to pursue it.
     
  6. MC_

    MC_

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    Correct, but I think it is very unlikely a town of 5,000 would be considered "sparsely populated". Ultimately I think the lesson here is that drone pilots aren't the only ones who break rules from time to time. See and avoid.
     
    jiggyb21 likes this.
  7. Tim in Florida

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    The pilots (helicopters and small planes) violate the altitude and proximity rules ALL the time along the beach. They want their few hundred bucks to give people a beach flight ride and do not let the rules get in the way.
     
  8. N017RW

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    The rules are different over water or sparsely populated areas.

    FAR, Part 91, section 119, Paragraph (c).

    Basically the 500' altitude limit becomes one of separation whether it be horizontal or vertical.

    So they can skim the water if they want to in many situations.
     
    BigAl07 likes this.
  9. BigAl07

    BigAl07 Moderator
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    There are MANY situations where the rules/regulations allow for less than 1,000' flight.

    Also for everyone reading this.. it's VERY difficult to stand on the ground and even remotely accurately determine an aircraft's actual height above ground level. Scale/size tend to mess with our eyes to brain calculations.

    Regardless if the pilot of the manned aircraft is busting altitude regs or not we are all required to See & Avoid any and all other aircraft and even more so manned aircraft.
     
  10. charles snider

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    I am in the process of getting a sports pilot license now so I can continue to do my videos for my customers.If the pilot called the tower he can fly lower with a flight plan. Several pilots do it close to there homes.
     
    #10 charles snider, Mar 28, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2016
  11. Tim in Florida

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    Right. I thought that being over water did not change the population rule. I have been walking on the beach and they are flying close enough that I can see their eyeballs. Over the water with people in it and close to people.

    I was not referring to the ones that are over open water. Spring break = packed beaches and pilots that want to give their clients "up close" views, apparently.

    I also agree with the other comment, that distance (and speed and trajectory) are difficult to judge. There are some indicators that can be used once something is close enough, though. I should go out there with a range finder and see how far off my estimates are.
     
  12. gunslinger

    gunslinger Moderator
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    If you're not an official sponsor of this forum, you're not allowed to advertise your business on here... Sorry...
    -slinger