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Small aircraft and quadcopters

Discussion in 'Phantom 2 Vision Discussion' started by dbcch, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. dbcch

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    I've been flying at my local park, always keeping the quad-copter under 400ft.

    Unlike many pilots (!), I am pretty cautious because I don't want to kill anyone.

    However, twice now low-flying small planes have buzzed by my quad-copter, appearing to be uncomfortably close. It seems they like to fly around this particular park, probably for its views of the lake, etc...

    Today one buzzed by, didn't hear it until it was right above me. It looked about the same altitude as the quadcopter. It was really scary.

    Are small aircraft pilots required to stay above 400ft altitude? Or is it up their discretion? I just want to make sure I'm the heck out of their way, as I fear they may not be able to see a quad-copter in the daylight.
     
  2. rmklaw

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    I don't know if you are referring to model aircraft or general aviation aircraft. If you get buzzed by a low flying general aviation aircraft, it is a punishable violation of the federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) and should be reported to the local FAA/GADO office. By the way, if you can see the N number on the tail/side, that pilot is dead meat.
     
  3. Studiowise

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    Regulations are likely to be country specific so it might help if you identify your location :)
    From your post, you didn't help by using the words "colour" or "elevator" or "pavement" or "sidewalk" etc!! :lol:
     
  4. dbcch

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    I do mean real, people carrying general aircraft. Not RCs.

    I am not a plane guy, but small Cesna (two/four seater?) size maybe.

    It is good to know that if they are flying too low themselves, it's reckless, so I wouldn't be *entirely* at fault should we collide. God forbid. I tell you though, it is bound to happen some where, some time, to some one.

    There is a small airport maybe 5 miles away, so I think they fly out of it. I am not sure their altitude, but man - it *looks* awful low. Low enough for me to be concerned, as - like I said - looked about as high as my Phantom, which was 250ft at this time (iirc).

    In general, I'm going to keep the altitude below 150ft at this particular park. I am not sure if these pilots are violating regulations or not, but they clearly like to fly low over the scenic park, so I'll give them the right-of-way :eek:

    Oh, and I'm the USA.
     
  5. dkr77573

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    Just out of curiosity, is it possible that homeowners on the lake use the lake as a landing field? (Pontoon equipped planes). I've seen some areas that have them. I've also seen small neighborhood, private landing strips.
     
  6. dbcch

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    It's possible, yes. I can't say I paid any attention to the type of landing gear on these planes.

    Regardless, they are there. And I would not trust them to be aware of, or on the lookout for, quadcopters :eek:.
     
  7. Pull_Up

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    One of the fundamentals in general aviation is the responsibility to "see and avoid", and that applies to everyone putting anything into the air, whether or not you're inside it, not under radar air traffic control. So you did a great job as you were concerned and took avoiding action. Height perception can be difficult, so whether you needed to or not I don't know, but it's a lot easier for you to see (and hear) and therefore avoid the light aircraft than it is for them to see and avoid you. Always fly defensively, and if in doubt get yourself out of the way. I'd say you did a good job, captain!
     
  8. dbcch

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    lol, thanks ;).

    Yes, it seems like common sense to fly defensively, but it's easy for the amateur like me to get so caught up in the excitement of flying that one can make dumb decisions or be reckless.

    The big revelation here was that, "hey!! - I'm in air traffic!!" ;p

    I really can't say the true altitude of this plane, I may have had a few hundred feet (at most) difference in altitude, and it was at least a hundred feet away. It wasn't that close, but .. could have been because there was ZERO awareness on my part, or their part.
     
  9. ladykate

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    If there isn't an airport nearby, report them. It will only take a couple to get the point across.

    However, where I am from, there are farm 'airports' everywhere so it might be that they are in a pattern and just taking the moment to veer a bit. Technically illegal but not really an issue worth pursuing.

    If they are just buzzing without regard to flight rules, then they need to stop it. Low flying airplanes are a pain and cause danger and irritation to everyone.

    Defensive flying is the right way but you don't have to be pushed around - there are rules for everyone in the sky.
     
  10. dkatz42

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    In the US, aircraft are required to stay 500 feet away from persons, vessels, or structures, and 1000 feet above congested areas, but as others pointed out this doesn't apply for takeoff and landing.

    Having said that, there are idiots piloting full-scale airplanes (though it takes more money and training than the idiots flying drones...) The FAA takes a very dim view of this sort of thing (up to and including emergency certificate revocation) so get the tail number if you can.

    (Note that 500' is not very high or far from anything...)
     
  11. dbcch

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    Thanks for the info! I'm going to record all future flights from the ground so that if this happens again I can analyze their altitude and get the tail number if they are flying lower than they should.
     
  12. dkatz42

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    One of the ironies of aviation is that, in spite of the thousands of pages of regulations, it is one of the few inherently libertarian pursuits left (probably courtesy of nautical law, on which it is based). If you read between the lines, the basic theme is "it's OK to kill yourself, as long as you don't take anyone else or anything expensive with you." For example, if you're doing aerobatics with a passenger, you both must wear parachutes, but if you're by yourself, have fun. Or you can fly with your wheels clipping the weeds, but you can't get near the house.

    The flip side is that if you screw up (and you survive), it is prima facie evidence that you were breaking the regs (always including 91.13, "Careless and Reckless").

    All of this is outside of the inevitable civil lawsuits, of course (aviation liability coverage is expensive, especially after the first $1M in coverage, which may sound like a lot, but isn't--a guy in an early Cirrus mixed it up with a PG&E high-tension line near San Jose CA awhile back and that didn't cover it...)

    Most of the rules are there because somebody died that way...
     
  13. kingcat200

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    My attitude is Live an let Live. These guys are only having fun just like your having fun.
    But because their fun is not the same as your fun lets report them and stop them WTH
    Enjoy life man
     
  14. dbcch

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    Yes, I have the same attitude. I wouldn't ever actually report anybody. That said, it is nice to have such things documented in case there ever is any incident. Easy to blame the guy with a small RC craft ya know.
     
  15. kingcat200

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    Fair Call

    Enjoy
     
  16. dkatz42

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    Well, as I full-scale pilot myself, I respectfully disagree, partly for the "gives the rest of us a bad name" argument, and partly because Stupid Pilot Tricks actually kill people on a regular basis.

    There's a reason that every small aircraft mishap seems to make national news, even though on average on the same day (in the US) 100+ people die in car wrecks and 1000+ people die of smoking-related illness. Average folks are scared of "little airplanes", and this results in lots of pressure to close airports and restrict flying (though most pilots don't like the FAA, the fact that they jealously protect their jurisdiction from local governments is a source of grudging respect). Idiots buzzing their girlfriend's house make it much worse (especially if they clip a power line and end up in a smoking crater where the neighbor's house used to be).

    The FARs give us plenty of room to "have fun" without endangering anyone other than the pilot. I can go almost anywhere (outside of controlled airspace) without telling anyone or talking to anyone. I am given the freedom and opportunity to do truly dangerous and questionable things with no consequences other than changing my shorts. I just don't get to kill other folks while doing it, which is a fine tradeoff by me.

    About the only pilot that's been ratted out in my neighborhood in my nearly two decades of flying was somebody who decided to strafe the main beach in Santa Cruz CA in a 172 a few years back. I'm sure the pilot thought it was perfectly safe, and it probably was (as long as the engine didn't quit), but I would have ratted him out myself if I were there.

    I doubt you think "Live and Let Live" when somebody in a sports car is weaving in and out of traffic going 50mph faster than everybody else. Fun's fun, but not when someone's taking my life in their hands.
     
  17. dbcch

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    You are both right. Like everything else in the world, it's a matter of degrees.

    If I saw a pilot doing something I felt was dangerous, I'd have a responsibility to report them.

    In this case, I was more concerned about the both of us having fun in the same space, which is why I was asking about minimum altitudes for light aircraft.
     
  18. dbcch

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    So today is a sunny, unusually warm Saturday - and everyone is out flying.

    At least two light aircraft kept flying around me, maybe more. In a 10 minute quadcopter flight, there were at least 5 passes! I dunno if they are circling, or what.

    EDIT: IN the 30 minutes since I posted this, they passed by 8 more times - that I happened to notice. Unreal amonut of air traffic!

    I didn't get good video of the lowest and closest, but did get this ... this one is a bit higher and offset from me, so it's not a great example of the worst 'offenders', but is a quick glimpse of what I mean. It's well within my flight range.

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItfBJdh74ag[/youtube]

    I know, not that big a deal, who cares.. but, that's sort of what I meant, just a bit lower though are the concerning cases.. that and the high frequency of pass-bys meaning lots of air traffic over this location (even if only a few planes).

    p.s. I have also learned that filming aircraft in flight is not trivial.
     
  19. ResevorDG

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    This is correct for most aircraft. There are a few that are permitted to fly below 500 feet AGL (Above Ground Level). Some notable exemptions are gliders and motor gliders, and some ultralights, as well as some law enforcement and other government aircraft. There are also sections of the air like an aerobatic box allows for flying all the way to the ground. It is important to note that all aircraft have to fly very low to land so make sure your park is not near an airport.
    Beyond that, many pilots break the law because, well, it's fun to fly low.
     
  20. wat17

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    To defend most light aircraft pilots, they would be well more qualified and knowledgable then most people flying Phantoms. There is plenty of evidence on here of people breaking aviation laws that they would have no idea about.

    Some food for thought (laws differ country to country but would be similar):
    1) It's illegal to fly within 3nm(6km) of an aerodrome
    2) Flight above 400ft is illegal
    3) Flight out of visual line of site is illegal. You need to see you Phantom at all times. You FPV doesn't count.
    4) Aircraft can legally be at 500ft in unpopulated areas. Many can go lower legally for a variety of reasons. The difference between your Phantom at 400ft and aircraft at 500ft will look very close.
    5) Aircraft will have almost no chance of seeing a Phantom until impact.
    6) Aircraft have right of way over your Phantom.

    Before you talk to the FAA, CAA, CASA etc I would make sure you know what your talking about. You would feel pretty stupid if you got yourself in trouble.

    My advice would be to contact your local airport somehow. Be it a flight school, operator etc and make sure your doing everything legally!