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I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airspace

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by mmayhew, Jun 12, 2014.

  1. mmayhew

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    FAA Letter: http://i.imgur.com/OthKCf9.jpg

    TL;DR: Posted stupid video on YouTube/Reddit, got reported to the FAA, they contacted me and said STOP.

    10 days ago I submitted a YouTube video to /r/djiphantom of my Phantom 2 ascending 1.1km (3640ft). I also linked the Flytrex data which included GPS coordinates. One user determined I was within the Class C airspace of my local airport, BHM. Since it is a 20 minute drive, I never realized I was only 4.99 miles away which puts me right inside the Class C airspace. I thanked the user for the information and said his point was very well taken. I proceeded to mark my video and Flytrex data private.

    Today I received the certified letter you see here. I called the FAA investigator who could not have been more helpful and nice. He proceeded to tell me that the FAA's guidelines around operating RC and model aircrafts do not apply to modern UAVs/Drones. The FAA investigator even cited the case where the FAA fined a UAV operator $10,000 and a judge dismissed the fine due to lack of regulations.

    The FAA investigator even went as far to say I should be fine flying at my house up to 1,900ft since I'm on the edge of the Class C inner-circle. He also said I could fly as high as I want in Class G airspace. All of this information was unsolicited and very much appreciated.

    The investigator summarized the call by saying since I had not broken any rules, laws or guidelines the FAA was simply requesting I refrain from flying that high in Class C airspace due to public safety concerns.

    I'm fairly confident it was someone from the Reddit thread that reported me due to the information in the anonymous report matching one of the comments verbatim. I was also reported to the Birmingham Airport Authority. To that user, I would like to say Thank You. I now have an awesome letter to frame and learned a lot from a very cool FAA employee.

    Lastly, I'm not defending the video or my actions. I was ignorant in my thinking that I was not close to an airport when I was only 4.99 miles away.
     
  2. wkf94025

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    That is definitely a keeper for the scrapbook!

    Kelly
     
  3. markn

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    All I see is a poorly written letter. So much so I see it as a hoax.
     
  4. mmayhew

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    I thought so too at first! It definitely wasn't. It was just a local FAA being forced to deal with a complaint that stemmed from an immature Internet argument.
     
  5. N017RW

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    Don't feed this troll anymore.

    The grammar and other composure errors in this document are similar to the OP's [poor] forum-post structure.
     
  6. markn

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    DOH! You're right. Paying too much attention to the "letter" to see the Troll :oops:
     
  7. mmayhew

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    Not trolling. Here's the envelope it came in. Not sure how else to prove it.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. SilentAV8R

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    FWIW, I love using the www.skyvector.com website. You can find your local chart and zoom in to see what the airspace is in your area. You do need to know how to read an FAA sectional chart, but there are places on the web to help learn how to do that.
     
  9. mmayhew

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  10. N017RW

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    My apologies Mr. Mayhew.

    The letter's composition is abysmal.
     
  11. mmayhew

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    No worries, I completely agree. I just compared the FAA employee's phone number with the number listed on the contact page below and they have the same area code and prefix so it's definitely not a hoax. I think they had to follow up with the complaint and just didn't put a lot of effort into it.
     
  12. mmayhew

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    Very nice, thank you. I've been looking at the maps on airnav.com but this is much better.
     
  13. Suwaneeguy

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    Rule #1. I never post with my real name in social media, let alone include real life information in the profile.
    I'd have asked exactly how they found out who I was and that I owned and operated such a device?
    Chances are, it was one of your own neighbors who turned you in.
    But, you're advertising to the world who you are, and where this happened. So it wouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that when the same name appears in the phone book at the same location, well duhh, it's gotta be.
    If it walks like a duck?

    As for the letter, it was only saying that you were close to operating outside of the guidelines. And the investigator told you the truth.

    As for the letter being a hoax, it ain't. Hoaxers don't send certified mail/return receipt requested and include their phone number.
     
  14. seminole360

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    Great story... thank you for sharing that.
     
  15. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    I would be very surprised if the FAA is treating class C violations so lightly. It is controlled airspace around an airfield and has a number of requirements and restrictions. Being that the letter came from the local FSDO, they probably don't have much authority to deal with it locally but will pass it to the mothership where it can be handled with more authority. They probably also don't have any hard evidence in order to make a case other than maybe a witness. Then again, since when does the FAA wait for having rules or evidence to try to make a case.

    My personal opinion is that violating controlled airspace is a big mistake. It is there for a reason and it has existed long before our little toys came along. If you live within 15 miles of a moderately sized airport, it is your responsibility to know where the restricted airspace is and to avoid it at all costs.
     
  16. Jaybee

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    Flying that high is incredibly irresponsible at the best of times. Flying that high in Class C airspace is just plain stupid. What if you lost control and your UAS flew into the path of a commercial airliner.

    As neat as the Flytrex brand is, it's bothers me that they help to promote unsafe flying by gamifying things like distance / altitude endurance flying.

    Completely agree.
     
  17. EMCSQUAR

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs


    +1
     
  18. VolcomSurfer

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    It bugs the hell out of me that the FAA kept calling it a drone since they are so adamant about getting away from using that terminology in our classes.
     
  19. N017RW

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    Like it or not, by current definition, a Phantom Px can be labeled as a drone.

    (however, I agree with you)
     
  20. mb_guy

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    Re: I was investigated by the FAA for flying in Class C airs

    Agree