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Help needed: Flying in cities, advice for flying without getting in trouble

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I want to fly my Inspire 2 in big cities, but I am worried about getting in trouble.
1- Where do I take off with a noisy large Inspire 2? Parks? Parking lots? Where to not take off and land?
2- Do people tolerate such a large drone over their heads? How low or close is too close?
3- Flying over private property? Are there rules or expectations about avoiding flying directly over traffic or people?
4- Anything else to avoid?

I use the drone buddy app to know where I am allowed to fly, and to stay below 400 ft, but I’m still unsure about my stated questions. I know to avoid sporting events or similiar, and airport rules. I’m FAA registered and labeled. Looking to fly San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City.
Thanks for everyone’s help and advice! I need it! :)
 
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FAA rules - don’t fly over people, don’t fly over highways with traffic. You can google those states and cities and easily find out about their parks. It appears you are hobbyist and the FAA has recently come out with new rules for hobbyist, contact them, I usually get an answer within 24 hours.
 
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Well a simple answer would be you can fly anywhere your not prohibited from flying but that doesn't really help. If its not controlled airspace then your off to a good start. I personally stay away from large cities but from my understanding there is a lot of uncontrolled airspace in cities where its legal to fly but its more of a matter of tolerance. There's not much of a point of arguing with a security guard (or police) or even a citizen about how you have a right to fly there. Take San Francisco for example, anywhere that would make some cool pictures or videos are pretty much the places I would personally avoid. Pier 39, Golden Gate park. Govt buildings, art museums, bridges, Lombard st. and on and on. I have seen some nice drone pictures of these areas but I never want to draw attention to myself and having a malfunction at one of those locations would be a nightmare for me. One method is to find and area where you know your not prohibited Then move away from that area to a secluded location say 300 yds to 1/4 mile, take off then fly in a manner that keeps you away from being over anyone and at an altitude that wont draw any attention to the drone. get your photos and then leave. It would never be a good idea to go so low or close as where people would think you are spying on them. Sunday morning when everyone is still in bed is another option. I have gotten over the notion that just because i think it would be a cool place to get some video that I should attempt to get some. Santa Cruz beach board walk is an example. I was there and could have stayed over the ocean and flew the length of the board walk and got some good video, no one would have been in danger and I could have found a remote location to take off and land from. but exactly how badly do I really need that video? and would it really have been that cool? It can be challenging to find good areas to film. Its sad how people will tolerate a cell phone or other camera but then get nasty about a drone. When I do commercial real estate shoots I'm often in very public areas and I usually don't have a problem. Once the drone is up most people don't even notice it but you still need to be careful. Plus if you put a hard hat and high visibility vest on its amazing how everybody just accepts that its okay for you to be there.
 
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I've flown 3 different Phantoms over the years and due to career and personal diversions took a couple year break from flying.

I'm now getting back into it with an Inspire 2 after getting a commercial drone license. I have some of the concerns of the OP, especially with more local drone ordinances on the books.

There are definitely some issues trying to fly. Even several years ago, flying in a park, some yahoo was in my face saying it was illegal to video because there were houses around. Luckily I was there with a friend and fellow pilot who had my back. Another time some woman accused me of being a spy and threatened to call the police.

I'm planning to do some professional work and like the idea of the vest and hardhat. Another member mentioned putting out orange cones around the landing area as well.

Have any of you had to deal with Barney Fife police types who don't know anything about the regulations and threaten you with arrest? And do you keep a copy of the FAA regulations and relevant local ordinances to cover all bases in case of the foregoing?
 
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hello! i'm Rob.


here in Italy and we have almost same rules as you rest of the EU (now ENAC, sooner EASA) and similar to US.

-ask esperienced pilots or experienced aerial photographers, send a mail for example worth a try.. (the old ones that did the job before drone world came out i meant)

- in order to achieve maximum manage and security about the take off and landing area, for example circumscribe the area "like for a crime".
that will almost prevent anyone cross it, civilians are safe from your LETHAL BLADES lol ( big birds or inspire2 design is scary for most of the people that get close)-->reduces risks..
-sometimes you can get a cable to give extra safety control over the drone in order to reduce risk assestment. (just legally we know inspire are magnificent machines that will hardly fall if you're doing it right ..just a + )
-parachute
-most of airplanes take off after 6 am i guess in usa its the same not sure.... everything between 3am and 5am its almost fine (even for photography but you arleady know that city lights.... well depends..on location and subject..there are also less people (almost noone) in the street to deal with and no vehicles moving around at early dawn hours (yea i try avoid sunsets)

-use an extra operator to fly in vlos if possible, its a trick i learnt from other experienced pilots--risk assestment reduces...an observator/friend/collague will do it.
-flight terminator system ofc.. its illegal fly without. (cable is the alternative, but its too short sometimes less than 50 yards and the buffer also... )
-just to know.... its better fly with an hexacopter or octocopter....i love my inspire but still has only 4 rotors sadly..so in case of problems has less safety compared the other multicopters.. yet inspire2 can make it no problem we know!

Im a photografer for a living and i decided to fly in the cities with quads and hexacopters and there is always something wrong that you do most of the time (legally)..depends on what you want to achieve...slowly im going...squares and big streets ....looking for the skyline its easier.....but fly above a specific building total different...most of the pictures you see in socials (90%) are illegal.
they fly with small drones like m2p or mavic air then run away, lol. its risky.
and its very sad.

infact most of them publish on social like facebook and instagram for numbers, but (most) won't publish on offical pages like national geo (just an example ) wich is what mby a photographer aims to achieve.... only the fools dare it!!!






-time ago i had my perimission to fly over a building then i went and denounced my presence to local police : "hey im here and i have a permission to fly with a drone " see the paper :eek:.

last time police blocked traffic and let me take off..i felt i was like a special guy, but its not !!! i just did it right lots of patience...and then enjoyed watching my monitor....had to wait months...had huge satisfaction. and i will do it again.

so yet most pictures around are illegal but that doesnt stop the photography or fly with a drone...better you know what are you doing in case you are a professional.
in legal terms not just about UAV but also about the subject that you want to represent .....things move really slow..but here in italy i have to deal also with UNESCO , local laws, local police (at least 3 different, Carabinieri, Polizia, Vigili )
In the end you will get your reward dont get discouraged nothing is impossible !

.......aaaand yet i seen some pictures of the colosseum by italian ppl with drones wich i know they did it in a totally illegal way..and the same for other europeans "photographers or drone pilots that doesnt have any license." some of them had what they deserve..

still it sucks.

ridiculous is that every drone that has more than +5MP camera gets you in troubles with privacy if you dont take precautions......most of the times....being a professional actually does not allow you to take pictures freely like a normal guy..(whaat??.merely truth...go undercover sometimes...). we need ask permissions...boring boring and useless waste of time.. people with iphone X can take pictures without problems. also they say oh yes with a drone you can take pictures from above and violate privacy.

actually smartphones users violate privacy whole time..and there are even external zooms lens for smartphones, you dont even need a drone to spy or a tele lens to be stealth. all fun facts....how ridiculous the world is sometimes..

.risk or not it depends on your final aim/value project.

- just publish on social VS make serious stuff for serious purpose.


in the end...after all these words i will push on social..since..only few care about it....as you can see we have some difficulties.

this is just my little experience, im sure other people here can give you better info and share personal experience!




anyway


Looking to fly San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City.

i wish to see and enjoy your work i will publish mine too asap so really wish good luck with that 😁
 
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I want to fly my Inspire 2 in big cities, but I am worried about getting in trouble.
1- Where do I take off with a noisy large Inspire 2? Parks? Parking lots? Where to not take off and land?
2- Do people tolerate such a large drone over their heads? How low or close is too close?
3- Flying over private property? Are there rules or expectations about avoiding flying directly over traffic or people?
4- Anything else to avoid?

I use the drone buddy app to know where I am allowed to fly, and to stay below 400 ft, but I’m still unsure about my stated questions. I know to avoid sporting events or similiar, and airport rules. I’m FAA registered and labeled. Looking to fly San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City.
Thanks for everyone’s help and advice! I need it! :)
Start here.
Without looking I'm guessing most of the cities you listed are going to have large areas inside controlled airspace. I only use Sectionals to determine airspace but for you B4YOUFLY will help.

Go to each city's website and inquire about drones rules. Good luck.
 
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I know NYC isn’t on your list, but I’d guess that Boston, Chicago and San Francisco are all no fly zones. NYC has zero tolerance and if caught you’ll have a problem.

There are of course ways to get permission, you just have to contact the right people.

Also, Keep in mind that if you’re planning on flying in these places (or anywhere) and you happen to sell any pictures or video, then you will have crossed that line from hobbyist to requiring Part 107. So anything you get before you have 107 is worthless.
 
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cbd

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I'm local to the SF Bay area. People often refer to SF meaning just the city, or SF meaning the region. I’ll speak regionally. Most of that epic SF scenery drone footage was likely collected in violation of FAA rules and/or other land use restrictions. My personal experience re part 107 flying is:


>Where do I take off

Air Space: Air space is typically not my most restricting factor. There is a lot of controlled airspace regionally, but most of SF proper is not. The 3 major airports have LAANC available… but a lot of the smaller airports also have controlled airspace but are not in LAANC yet.


Place to Operate/Land from: This is more of the challenge than air space. Public lands ring much of the SF bay shore and pacific coastline. Most of these parks do not allow drone use without a park permit. Around SF and the Marin region, much of this shoreline is National Park Service land, and you cannot legally operate (launch/land) a drone without a permit. In the East Bay, much of the shoreline is East Bay Regional Park District: no drones. State parks: mostly no drones. Local parks: varies, but mostly no drones. But, just call and ask. If you are trying to operate legally, my experience is folks are usually happy to talk to you.


> Do people tolerate such a large drone over their heads? How low or close is too close?

Doesn’t seem really relevant unless you have a waiver, as per FAA 107: “Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly participating in the operation…” But I would say local tolerance varies; people know what drones are, and you won’t get the “wow” tolerance factor that I find in a lot of places — so you hit “nuisance” much more quickly.


3- Flying over private property? Are there rules or expectations about avoiding flying directly over traffic or people?

California has major privacy laws because of paparazzi, so be sure to check those before filming private property. FAA bans flying over people. Most of those heavy traffic areas have low-flying helicopters.


4- Anything else to avoid?

Bay Area is prone to major fog, which varies hyperlocally. I can drive from blue skies to 1/2 mi away and end up in fog conditions that would prohibit flying by FAA rules.

We have a ton of low-flying helicopters (traffic, law enforcement, Coast Guard), including ones that would appear to be ~400’ AGL.

Major sports stadiums on both sides of the Bay have frequent TFRs.


Hope this is of use! Just my personal experience/understanding.
 
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I want to fly my Inspire 2 in big cities, but I am worried about getting in trouble.
1- Where do I take off with a noisy large Inspire 2? Parks? Parking lots? Where to not take off and land?
2- Do people tolerate such a large drone over their heads? How low or close is too close?
3- Flying over private property? Are there rules or expectations about avoiding flying directly over traffic or people?
4- Anything else to avoid?

I use the drone buddy app to know where I am allowed to fly, and to stay below 400 ft, but I’m still unsure about my stated questions. I know to avoid sporting events or similiar, and airport rules. I’m FAA registered and labeled. Looking to fly San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City.
Thanks for everyone’s help and advice! I need it! :)

San Francisco has been tight during the recent years, duly due to a case that happened at the Levis stadium and is presently on the press. My suggestion in flying in SF is to ask the local PD that you see. There are cool places to fly in SF, but then again, everyone in the Bay Area, and sad to say that most are breaking the rules.
 

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