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Flying Over a Sports Event

Discussion in 'Pro/Adv Discussion' started by flyingace, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. flyingace

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    A cycling race promoter has asked me to fly and record some of the race this weekend, and has even gotten permission for me to launch from the top of a nearby bar's rooftop. It is an open course race on city maintained roads which covers about two city blocks. I know the FAA states you cannot fly over sports events, but the way it is stated seems to indicate their intentions were for a stadium. Does anyone know if it pertains/extends to something like a bike race where there are no stands and observers are really just standing along the street on the sidewalk?

    I don't know of any local ordinance(s) which restricts this kind of flying.
     
  2. Helijoc

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    Never heard anything about sporting event in general. Drones are flown over surfing competitions here all the time. I would fly in such a way to avoid flying over crowds and such. Chances are the best shots would be from an angle anyway. Fly away.
     
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  3. DeadGrunt

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    I agree with what Helijoc just wrote. I lived in Hawaii and when the surfing competition was in full force at the Oahu North Shore, there were full sized helicopters flying right above the surfers with the "under craft gimbal cameras" videotaping everything.
     
  4. kennedye

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    Yeah, the general-purpose sporting event NOTAM shouldn't apply here. Of course, if you or the promoter *profit* from the footage, you may have an entirely different problem with the FAA (unless you're 333'd)...
     
  5. N017RW

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    Requests and Permissions don't transfer your responsibility as 'pilot in command' should anything happen.

    City Ordinances do not supercede common sense.
     
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  6. Mark The Droner

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    As I remember, the rule is you can't fly over a stadium that is 30,000 plus within one hour before or after the event.
     
  7. Fourman

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    There should be plenty of spots in a crit that you can fly and film without really being over them....

    That being said.....a start lineup overview pic would be cool....

    (I used to race crits all the time years ago when I was younger....)
     
  8. Morgas Resnak

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    I agree and must be missing the parts about not flying over people and crowds.
     
  9. AlexSP

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    I´ve been doing a lot of sports filming for the past 2 yrs, mostly because I´m a cyclist (among other sports) myself. I try to avoid as much as I can, but I fly above crowds quite often without much worry. I calculate my risks, if there´s nearby obstacles or any considerable risk of failure, or maybe the shot/flyover is beyond my pilot ability, I´ll find a way to get what I want safely, or won´t do it. Fortunatelly it´s all been fine in over 3 yrs of drone filming, even over large crowds such as in city marathons and stuff. Actually no other pilot here has crashed over ppl that I heard of, but I know it can happen. That´s life.

    For me it´s a little like driving: I understand the risks, but I also know my equipment, my skills and my limits enough to minimize the risks. There´s no such thing as eliminating risks, that shouldn´t prevent us from doing things in life if there´s a need or reason. We can never hope to have 100% control over anything, but I believe it´s our duty to do our best all the time, and I´m willing to accept the consequences too.

    I also design and build, besides my drone filming company I´ve been doing projects and construction for over 2 decades. Never had an accident, never had any of my projects crashing. We took a few calculated risks to get an edge over competition and learned a lot doing this, but you go nowhere by not taking chances. Accidents are part of life, but knowing yout tools and staying within safe limits can go a long way in achieving differentials.
     
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  10. shockwave199

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    I understand what you're saying but keep in mind that even though you're willing to accept the risk of flying over crowds, the unknowing public below hasn't been given the opportunity to voice whether they are willing to as well. I'm sure you are as cautious as possible. I've flown over small groups of people in a controlled setting. But my planning for large crowds at events is how do I get the shots from the fringes, above the least amount of people as possible or avoiding the fly over entirely. I'm not willing to accept the risk of equipment failure over a crowd just for the sake of a shot. At that point they are innocent bystanders and you're deciding to fly, no matter how carefully you try, recklessly. I would only suggest you refrain from doing so altogether, no matter how many times you got away with it. No shot is worth the risk of a concussion or laceration to people below. I wish you and the people below you, safe and fun times always. Good luck.
     
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  11. AlexSP

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    I understand and agree in part with what you´re saying Shockwave. I don´t mean to sound like I´m taking unnecessary risks at large just for the thrill of it because I´m not. Far from it. And I´m not advocating for it either, I understand it´s a personal decision but it´s just one decision like many we take in life.

    But... well... the sake of a good shot is what it is about if I´m under a contract. Not at all costs of course, but that´s not what we´re talking about, at least I´m not. Just like the sake of going places is what makes me drive my car whenever I need, have or just want to. And I and everyone else on my path are under some risk that cannot be avoided regardless of people knowing or accepting it. It´s just unnavoidable, so yes the rationale behind both decisions and many others is the same IMO.

    I don´t want to hurt anyone with my P3 as much as I don´t want to hit anyone with my car, or kill anyone with my buildings. I must fly, drive and project so I take all the necessary (and possible) steps to minimize risks, but I still do it all when I have to, and move on.

    It´s a social contract, otherwise no one would do much because there´s always some risk involved at a lot we do in society, known or not, accepted or not. If the risk involved is beyond acceptable for the situation then I agree it should be disclosed, or avoided altogether, or any other measure taken. Otherwise, society has tools to deal with consequences, if the situation presents itself. As someone said above, there´s no transfering the responsibility.

    But objectively, if we take the statistics I´d guess the odds of hurting someone with any of my drones at a concert or a marathon are considerably smaller than hurting or maybe even killing someone while driving to or from said event, all things considered. Also objectivelly, to me it doesn´t matter much if I´m flying over a small or large crowd, ´cos if my drone fails I´ll hit the same number of people. The one and only way to avoid that is to not fly over people at all.

    And then there are cars, animals, buildings, helicopters, planes, birds... Man, come to think of it, I should go back to my RC cars, it´s a lot simpler and a lot less dangerous LOL :D Just kidding.
     
  12. shockwave199

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    I do agree with that. For all of the fear mongering that plagues us, the statistics just don't back it up. I have confidence in my gear choice doing this, my ability to fly, and my ability to make good judgment calls. But regardless of commitments, contractual or otherwise, we the pilots still have the responsibility to say no to an obviously unsafe flight and flight path. It's the better thing to do, no matter how much we want that shot. I've been there too, so I'm not playing the preacher here- I'm a sinner too, lol. Just stay safe as always and I would only suggest that judgements default to the public below and the pilots above. Peace.
     
  13. AlexSP

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    Agree 100%. I do my best to keep ego, pride, money and anything else that could potentially cloud my judgement out of such decisions, especially the ones that involve still-developing-technology, flying RC objects with heavy LiPO batteries and high-speed spinning props :p I usually tend to play to the safe side actually, maybe that's what's kept me out of trouble so far, I sure as hell don't want to hurt anyone or harm the drone reputation, 'cos there's no gain whatsoever in doing that!
     
  14. RocketBrew

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    This was the only time I have flown near a "crowd".
    I got there early, spoke with the event manager for permission to fly. Made several Litchi runs, tweaking the mission each time to ensure I was over the barricaded area and the median strip, but still getting the shot I wanted.
    A cop stopped by while doing the trial runs, and just asked me to not fly over crowds of people once the event filled up (which it never did, really.) The city posted it on their social media, and it ended up with over 1K hits on YT.
     
  15. WetDog

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    One thing nobody has commented on is insurance. AlexSP, if your building were to fall down, or your car crash into something, you carry liability insurance to reimburse victims for losses. That's part of being professional.

    A problem with UAVs is the odd ball fight between the FAA and the rest of the world. If you are doing something for compensation, you need a 333 exemption. Even if you don't really need it. Insurers are then in a bit of a bind. If you don't have an exemption and you have a crash and you receive compensation for filming then your home or even specialty drone insurance may well decide not to touch you. Sure, you are unlikely to create the problems you have when a building crashes down, but even a cut on the little finger can tie you up in legal proceeedings for months.

    Look at your policy carefully. And even if it you won't get anything other than good will back, make sure somebody's policy covers you.

    I keep thinking about the narrow miss of that downhill skier.....
     
  16. Andrea

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    hmmm... whichever the risk you "calculate" or your skills as a pilot, there is very little you can do if for whatever reason a motor or a propeller brakes. In that condition the craft is completely out of control and you can not even guess where it will be crashing (because it will crash for sure... unless you have parachutes).
    I wouldn't fly over crowded areas...
     
  17. tcope

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    You need to fly in a safe and non-reckless manner. Flying over large groups of people _may_ be seen as reckless. Keep in mind... if your drone falls on someone you _were_ flying in a reckless manner. We are not talking about that. We are talking about what _may_ happen and certainly this is open for interpretation and consideration. If you don't understand this, feel free to review the Pinker case. He did not hit anyone but the FAA said he was flying in a reckless manner when he flew over people (there was more to it then just that though). My point... know that you need to fly in a safe way. If you feel it's in question then you need to weight your chances of the FAA feeling the same way. It's not black and white and each person needs to make their own call.
     
  18. AlexSP

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    Yes I agree Andrea, and that's called an accident. When something is not intended or doesn't go to plan. That's my point, in the real world we can't calculate or control everything but that doesn't mean ppl sit at home watching TV all day to avoid risks to themselves and others (although some ppl do!). Most ppl go out, do stuff, take risks, risk others, accidents happen - that's life. If someone takes good care of his car (or drone) and drives carefully and within the law and the limits imposed (or pilots his drone accordingly), accidents are less likely but yes, can still happen. That won't prevent me or anyone else from driving, as much as it won't keep ppl from flying a drone. Or doing anything else for that matter.

    As I said it's a personal decision. It's based on so many things, some are objetive, others not so much. Very individual. Some will fly drones over crowds, some don't. I understand it, I'm not telling anyone should risk anything, this or that. I do and I'm comfortable with it IF it's within some parameters. Otherwise I won't fly. I won't fly over ppl if I don't have to, because it's not a sport for me. I won't do anything to increase risks. Quite the opposite in fact, I always do my best to decrease the risks not only when it comes to drones but in other endeavors as well. So if my drone shows signs of problems I won't just fly over ppl - I won't fly it anywhere, period. But if it's OK to fly over a field or a lake then I'll fly anywhere. I don't want to hit someone as much as I don't want to hit a car or a cow or even a tree.

    Re: Insurance. It only means someone else's pocket is paying instead of yours. That's also a personal decision. But everyone is accountable, insured or not. Can't escape that. Each way we as citizens respond for our acts, in various instances ($, civil, legal, etc.) depending on the context and circumstance. I've got my car insured and I'm not a professional driver, it's not mandatory. Some ppl are insured, some aren't but everyone who's driving is taking the same risks and has to answer one way or another if something happens. Construction insurance is a lot more complex though, that's another debate.
     
  19. shockwave199

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    One of the handy things about the phantom camera is the 94 degree field of view. That's actually fairly tight and you can film things that look closer than they actually are. This took some getting used to for me, coming from a yuneec bird with a 115 fov camera. I've come to like that phantoms fov better in almost all situations. I don't have to fly as close to frame a good shot. I can fly higher and still have it look lower to the ground. Some of my videos had me second guessing my flight path on playback but I was actually not over a road, etc. It just looks like it is. The tighter fov can come in handy even staying on the sidelines of people where you're not over them, such as an adjacent parking lot or field. It helps bring the action or poi up closer without needing to fly closer, is what I mean. The only time a 94 fov can get tricky is when I'm approaching a poi for an orbit setup. I've set up a poi thinking I was close enough, (I hate the directly overhead set up position most times), only to realize I was 100' or more off from it. Not good, lol. But mostly we can use the 94 fov to our advantage in tight situations and for increased elevation to avoid obstacles.