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  1. Jussaguy

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    I got some new ND/PL filters that I wanted to try out because I am doing a review/tutorial on my preferred methods of when/how and why to use them but that's not the point of this thread although it's coming in a couple days.

    What happened yesterday was pretty funny. I learned from @Dacon Productions after him and I rapped on the phone a couple months ago about calling the tower to get approval to fly. He was the first to tell me to give it a try and since then, I've taken some time to learn how to read sectionals and the proper methodology and terminology for getting that clearance.

    I wanted to get some shots of Santa Monica Pier because Sunday was a beautiful day and perfect sun to try out some of the filters, nice rolling shore, and I wanted to fly. So we went kind of late but I called the tower and asked for "2 hours of flying a quad copter under 400, only over water for recreational purposes" and I was told that I was clear from 6:00-8:00 (only over water, under 400). Sunset was not long after 7:15ish I think.

    First thing I did when I got to the beach was flag down the first authoritative person I could find and it was a fire fighter in a pick up. Dude reminded me of Crush from finding Nemo. He was immediately on my side and told me what to do. Go to the pier mini-police station and speak to the SMPD which I did.

    There was a lady officer there and I immediately told her what I was doing. She told me that their was an ordinance in Santa Monica "to not permit any drones to fly in the sky". I told her that this is not a drone, it's a UAS, a drone is a completely autonomous, blah blah blah and also that "I don't recognize the state's authority to set such regulation as the FAA is the sole governing body that controls air space". I know that this is an area of some debate but it doesn't matter, I was just trying to get my bird in the air and again, I was emboldened by the fact that I knew I had clearance.

    However, she starts to call the SMO tower of which she had pinned up on a board. I began to feel a little nervous and it took every bit of will power I had not to just leave because in all honesty, I didn't even know if I had the right to call and get clearance. I don't have a pilot's license but apparently you don't need to or if you do, they don't ask for it. The co-owener of my company was on his way but was not there and he is a full on jet pilot.

    She called and they asked for my name and number and cert, she wrote it all down and she gave me a card and told me if any officer bothers me that I have been cleared by the SMO tower to fly under 400 from 6-8pm.

    First time I flew, I first went over to the main life guard area adjacent the pier, informed some hottie lifeguard and she was cool. Then I went over to #17, just south of the pier and told the lifeguard what I was doing and the permission I had from the SMPD, the SMFD dude I spoke with, the air clearance and then dropped the name of the lifeguard chick. From that point, this guy offered me the lifeguard stand to set up and said he would watch out for people and officers and tell them not to bother me while I'm flying because I kept using the line that I am trying to make sure nobody bothers me because nobody ever gets clearance and there are parasailers and too low flying choppers, etc and that I had to maintain visual with my bird at all times and he sat there and waved people off while I flew from the coned off area.

    My point is, it's a WHOLY different experience when you have permission and it's has gotten past the "ask for forgiveness" later theory when it comes to UAS flying and I thought I would share with you guys a VERY successful day of flying at a place that is notoriously hard to fly from because it's a tourist area, it's 4 miles from SMO, etc. but it was probably the most relaxed I've ever been flying in a public place, again ALL because of the tower clearance.

    I swear I would have made this story shorter if I knew how. I am terrible at writing short stories. I can write a script, a novel or a call sheet but when it comes to giving out tidbits, I fail horribly but still wanted to get this all out so people will benefit. I mean it's possible I just got lucky on my first try but it worked.

    Below was my "get out of jail free card" and its a **** good thing I had it because I got a little too comfortable and WAY too stupid because I flew several times during the light hours from the guard station like I said but also from the short end of the pier and just had my wife clear the area and took off straight into the water. But later, as we were on the ferris wheel, my wife, child and I saw about 5 UASs take off and then saw them all go away in like a second and I thought, "suckers don't have this card". So I decided I wanted to try and get some lowlight stuff of the pier because it would look amazing.

    THE SECOND I took off about 5 officers came and were being TOTAL male members. When I told them I had clearance from the tower and their own, they were sure I was lying until I gave them this card and the BACA #3816 is referencing the officer that said to show anyone bothering me this card (she was so professional and sweet by the way. I was impressed. She was completely impartial and did her job. I will write the city thanking them for her service because she did it right). One asked the other "is this one of ours?" and when he said yes, they called and they looked pretty dumbfounded by it. He told me about the ordinance and I gave him the spiel plus "I had clearance from the tower" which trumps your ordinance. They weren't sure what to do but what I did that was stupid was take off from the pier because although I was standing right next to the water and the bird was only over the pier for about 10 feet, taking off from the pier was a legitimate risk to others that although I was safe about, shouldn't have been done so I gave him my ID (otherwise probably would have denied it) but since he had a legal reason to mess with me, I played ball. They ended up being nice about it and said it was "very smart of me to get that clearance". So at the end of the day, I will never fly again near a beach or public place again without getting clearance because it's VERY easy to do as there were A LOT of planes approaching SMO (one after the other) probably a thousand os so feet above me but they just said "yes" for 2 hours. First try, major success.

    [​IMG]

    I will make a video of some of the footage I got later when I make my filter review.

    A picture of my screen

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #1 Jussaguy, Sep 27, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2016
  2. Mark The Droner

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    Not sure if I would call all that SIMPLE, but I'm glad the good guys won :D
     
  3. Jussaguy

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    I have a penchant for making the simple sound much more complicated than it was. Let's just say I am a little overly wordy. :)
     
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  4. Johnny Bellew

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  5. Tigerbait

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    Bravo! Not even too wordy. :)
     
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  6. RémyHeli

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    Well done! Nice story and pleasant to read. You're smart indeed.


    Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots
     
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  7. GMack

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    Good for you!

    So that's 9 people you had to go through for a legal 25 minute flight? Wow! Seems they have too much enforcement if 5 show up trying to shut you down. Oh well, least you got approval and didn't fall into the commercial ops and permits/insurance/license mess either. Having permission, even if it takes a permit and sundry stuff, makes it so much better and less stressful.
     
  8. Pharm

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    I don't know if I want to wait a couple of days for the point of this thread. ;)

    I had an experience last week that was similar but not quite as convoluted. I went to an island off the eastern coast and wanted to fly over the beach. I stopped a police officer and asked if I could fly. She said she thought it was illegal to take off or land from the island but I should speak with the chief to be sure. I went to their station and spoke with the chief. His response (paraphrased) was, "We don't have any laws against it. Be careful and have fun." I took his advice.
     
    #8 Pharm, Sep 28, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
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  9. nhoover

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    Way to go - great story.
     
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  10. Jussaguy

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    It sounds like a lot of trouble as a read I suppose but if you knew how difficult it is nowadays to try and fly at Santa Monica Pier, you would understand the necessity for it. Also, it was 2 hours of care free flight, not 25 minutes. Although to be honest, I got the shots I needed rather quickly and the only reason I was able to is because I didn't have to hide somewhere and be nervous about being caught. As to how many people I had to go through, lumping the officers at the end, who by the way again, I don't think were in the wrong since I was dumb enough to take off from the pier at that point, counting them in as the "people had to go through" is a tad disingenuous. Anyway, if you live in a place that isn't California, you might not understand the necessity and the success of that day and for using it for future purposes by others which is why I'm posting it than great, but in the SoCal area, there are barely any spots where you can legally fly without clearance.

    Also, yeah, lol. There is WAY too much law enforcement at the Pier. I am sure they have a reason. On the other hand, look at that snap shot of the pier from my computer. It's not like there are 50 people there. 1000s.

    To be clear people, you CAN fly even 3 miles from an airport if you have clearance. You cannot per FAA rules (5 miles) if you don't. There are not many places in LA that aren't 5 miles from an airport.


    The point of the thread is for people in situations such as myself. You will not find an LAPD officer who will say "Go ahead and fly anywhere you like". In fact, Santa Monica introduced city legislation that puts a blanket no fly UASs across the whole city regardless.

    My flying brethren in NYC have the same problem. If you live in Madison, Wisconsin or Apple Valley, Utah, you aren't going to have the same issues as us in major metros. I suppose it's the price we pay for living in a metropolitan area.
     
    #10 Jussaguy, Sep 28, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
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  11. P4 Phlyer

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    I recently wanted to launch my bird from near a public boat launch here in Louisiana. I stood in the shade about 100 feet from the launch site and was preparing to launch my P 4 when a police car drove by and
    the officer stopped and got out. He came walking over and waved. I said hello and asked if there was a
    problem. He said no, that he had noticed that I had a UAS and was interested in learning more about
    them, hoping to have one some day. We had a nice chat and he eventually left. I relaxed only when he
    drove away! There was no one in authority at the boat launch site to request permission. I had good flights
    over the river and along the shores.
     
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  12. TK-421

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    A "little overly wordy"??? You could turn a sentence into a book!

    Good write up, thank you for detailing the innards of successfully navigating the system. I was in Santa Monica twice in the last six weeks, desperately wanted to fly the pier. Glad you made it happen!!


    Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots
     
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  13. Jussaguy

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    Cheers bud.

    I'm gonna post the results soon. Making a video/tutorial on the Cinema Series ND/PL Polar Pro Filters.