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Drone Operations within the National Parks

Discussion in 'Rules and Regulations' started by Seawolf, Jul 4, 2016.

  1. Seawolf

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    The National Parks were quick to initially ban drones. Since that time we've seen several generations of drone advancements capable of amazing photography and views never before seen.

    Since drones are now considered aircraft by the FAA, there ought to be a reasonable balance of drone access and manned flight operations within park boundaries.

    Here's some plausible guidelines that could be considered without disruption to park operations. Really no different and actually less impact than a backcountry permit.

    Let's discuss, add or amend and come up with a set of reasonable rules that could be considered.

    1) Drones must be registered with the FAA and operated under model aircraft or Part 107 rules.
    2) The park will designate a weekly or daily flight operations area away from highly concentrated visitors. Locations to be varied throughout the year.
    3) A limited pool of daily permits will be available, first come, first serve. Parks may designate operations on certain days, daily, and/or restrict the total number of flights.
    4) Operators must present the drone at time of park permitting for inspection of registration.
    5) Park ranger will periodically oversee flight operations area.
    6) Flights only in approved areas. Operations outside of approved areas and permitting would have appreciable fines.
    7) All the normal park rules apply such as not approaching or harassing wildlife, park damage etc.
    8) One aircraft in the air at a time.
    9) Downed aircraft shall be reported to park rangers for recovery. Operator shall be responsible for recovery fees.
    10) At completion of flight(s), operator returns to ranger station and presents drone to verify not lost.
    11) Nominal fee for the permit to offset incidental park costs to oversee.

    The reality is the P4 lasts about 15min in the air. With reasonable, managed access photos and videos would add value to the park experience while not blanketing the skies with drones.

    Thoughts?
     
    bLaStErAiD likes this.
  2. MPPilot

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    It seems rather well thought out and reasonable. Therefore I don't think they will ever go for it. It's too bad because these things are not drones with cameras but are flying cameras and the best places to take pictures are in the national parks. Maybe if we got a few congressmen or senators hooked on the hobby.....

    MPPilot
     
  3. bLaStErAiD

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    Seawolf my thoughts are that I agree with you 100%, I don't know what else to add to the list, looks complete to me, maybe other members will pitch in, but what can we do to start a movement of this sort?, write congressmen?, take it to court?, sit down with whoever is in charge of making all the rules for national parks?, whatever it is, count me in
     
  4. Seawolf

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    In June 2014, NPS Director Jarvis signed a policy memorandum which was intended to be temporary in lieu of an official regulation. I don't believe permanent regulations have been enacted. NPS cites FAA has jurisdiction over the airspace. So if manned aircraft are permitted, to include commercial operations, why can't drones which are now considered by the FAA to be aircraft. Ultimately we need to work through industries like DJI, GoPro or others to engage NPS leadership, possibly suggest these rules or other. Or, we need an industry group to advocate. Alternatively the right could be established in court as other aircraft are allowed. Either way we need an industry advocate, perhaps AMA. Could also start a White House petition but direct communication and open dialog is needed.
     
  5. flyboy73

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    Your proposal has a great deal of merit, and I would love to see it implemented. As was pointed out, the most beautiful and scenic areas in this country are protected by National Parks. However, I don't think your proposal will ever happen. The momentum is in the other direction. Part of it has to do with the increasing pressure on National Parks and the desire for many people to experience a "wild" experience. For most that does not include either seeing a drone, or hearing a drone. Aircraft are not allowed in National Parks, except in a few cases, and they are never going to allow private drones to fly there any more. And let's face it, there are so many drone flyers out there who care nothing for the rules, if they did open the doors to flying it would not take long for someone to ruin it for the rest of us. You see that everyday on this forum. And the way things are going it won't be long for all state, city, and county parks to follow. Sad, but I believe it to be true.
     
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  6. Seawolf

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    Was at the Grand Canyon and non stop helicopters are coming in and out. They're loud, annoying, too expensive for most and potentially fatal with an accident. Drones would not need space, substantially more quiet, and significantly safer. There was a time when guns were banned, no longer. NPS needs to see the benefits. Controlling through permits and rules throttles the numbers. Yes it's difficult, but without a real program and data, we're just creating regulations based on fear and hysteria.
     
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  7. tcope

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    I see some problems:

    So basically, not where anyone would want to fly a drone anyway. Also, once you allow someone to take off in that area you can't control where they go. So these areas would need to be a couple of miles away from anything of much interest.

    Who goes when? I see issues with this. There could be 10 people wanting to fly. That means a 2 hour wait... just with 10 people.

    Which almost no one will pay. But I doubt it would be a big issue.


    I live around something like 7 National Parks. I've _love_ to fly in those areas. But I also understand that any drone use near people would ruin the park for most people. I can pass on taking some really cool photos if it means thousands of people can enjoy the park as it should be enjoyed.
     
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  8. tcope

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    National Parks don't regulate airspace. So they don't have any control over heli's once in the air.

    It's not fear of drones that scare National Parks. It's that they will take enjoyment away from what the parks are there for.
     
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  9. flyboy73

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    Yes, you make a valid point. The Grand Canyon is a notable exception to the no flying rule of most National Parks. Even here though, unless you are a commercial tour flight operation your flights must be within very specific Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) areas, defined geographically and by altitude. They are designed to keep General Aviation aircraft away from the more populated areas of the Canyon, and away from the commercial flights in this 400 mile long canyon.

    General Aviation pilots are not supposed to fly closer than 2000 feet above any National Park or Monument, Seashores, Lakeshores, Recreation Areas and Scenic Riverways administered by the National Park Service, National Wildlife Refuges, Big Game Refuges, Game Ranges and Wildlife Ranges administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Wilderness and Primitive areas administered by the U.S. Forest Service.

    Those rules were put in place largely because of abuse by pilots in the past. We face much stronger opposition today to drones than did a few General Aviation pilots. We already outnumber General Aviation aircraft now, and those numbers are growing quickly. Again, I believe the trend is toward much more restrictive measures, rather than more lenient regulations. I wish it were not so.
     
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  10. BigAl07

    BigAl07 Moderator
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    While I am an avid R/C aviation enthusiast I firmly believe there are areas we don't need to be flying and the NPS (other than an emergency situation such as lost person etc). The beauty of these areas is that they aren't spoiled by humans (yet) and we need to respect and preserve that. I love being out in the back country and seeing/hearing nothing but what nature has provided. I have the backpack and all needed items to pack my aircraft way back into these area but I don't because others deserve to enjoy it just as much as I do.

    There are so many AMAZING and GORGEOUS places to fly in our country and the NPS should be "Out of Bounds" for recreational UAS. That's my 2 cents.
     
  11. Seawolf

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    There was a time when vehicles were not allowed in National Parks. Allowing cars and building access roads have opened up parks to millions each year. I agree if I'm a visitor I don't want to hear drones buzzing overhead. But, can't there occasionally be a remote area of parks that occasionally allow limited flights? Hang gliders are allowed in Yosemite and many have died from that. Rock climbers tear up rock faces and snowmobiles zip through Yellowstone disturbing wildlife l. It's just a matter of working together to find an acceptable, productive solution versus just ban everything which seems to be the mode with drones in our parks and cities these days.