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Flying in SFO and LAS under section 336

mikeGR

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Hi fellow drone pilots,

Visiting San Francisco and Las Vegas for a couple of days next week and taking my MP with me. I have registered my drone with FAA under section 336 (since I am a tourist) and downloaded the B4UFLY app to check where I can fly and where I can't .

Well, it seems that all of SFO and LAS areas are a huge NFZ. However, I have noticed in various blogs people saying that flying near the "Ferry Building" in SFO is fine, same for Lombard street (the curvy block). Then I have also seen posts like this one and DJI app showing all of downtown SFO being "OK" to fly.

What I am looking for is the reality, ideally from folks who live or visit those two cities often. Is it illegal to fly, is police actively chasing drone users, will I be treated differently because I am flying under section 336?

Any advice you can give me is appreciated, the last thing I want is to end up being in trouble. Thanks and safe flights.
 

BigAl07

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I would hold off on advice over the next few days as we have some new FAA Laws coming into play for Hobby operations that supersede 336 guidelines.

Stay tuned . . . .
 

PhantomFandom

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Hi,

I have registered my drone with FAA under section 336 (since I am a tourist)
Section 336 has nothing to do with whether or not you are a tourist. If you are a licensed Part 107 pilot (you did not make that clear) then you can fly under either set of regulations. If you are strictly a hobbyist then you can only fly under Section 336.

Well, it seems that all of SFO and LAS areas are a huge NFZ. However, I have noticed in various blogs people saying that flying near the "Ferry Building" in SFO is fine, same for Lombard street (the curvy block). Then I have also seen posts like this one and DJI app showing all of downtown SFO being "OK" to fly.
Your ultimate source of reference should always be the VFR Sectional Charts and the UAS Facility Map. With the specific locations you asked about:
  • Las Vegas is pretty much off limits to all recreational operations due to the proximity to airports. If you are flying commercially then there are possible locations for flying with LAANC authorization, to specific altitudes as seen in the grid maps.
  • SFO seems to give you a bit more flexibility as you move further north. Again for recreational operations you don't have much flexibility due to the proximity of San Francisco (SFO), Metropolitan Oakland (OAK), and Sausalito (SAU) airports. Looks like a small section (north of the city and south of the Golden Gate) that may be clear of all the airports. Commercially however, you would have a bit more flexibility with LAANC clearance in certain spots.
  • Note that on May 17th, everything changes for recreational pilots since you will no longer be able to call a tower and notify them that you are flying in controlled airspace.
  • In the SFO area you have the additional restriction that no one is allowed to fly within the boundaries of any Golden Gate recreation area (National Parks).
Any advice you can give me is appreciated, the last thing I want is to end up being in trouble. Thanks and safe flights.
Be very careful and make sure you look at the maps. I would recommend against flying in either of those locations.
 
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Drbobk

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Hi,


Section 336 has nothing to do with whether or not you are a tourist. If you are a licensed Part 107 pilot (you did not make that clear) then you can fly under either set of regulations. If you are strictly a hobbyist then you can only fly under Section 336.


Your ultimate source of reference should always be the VFR Sectional Charts and the UAS Facility Map. With the specific locations you asked about:
  • Las Vegas is pretty much off limits to all recreational operations due to the proximity to airports. If you are flying commercially then there are possible locations for flying with LAANC authorization, to specific altitudes as seen in the grid maps.
  • SFO seems to give you a bit more flexibility as you move further north. Again for recreational operations you don't have much flexibility due to the proximity of San Francisco (SFO), Metropolitan Oakland (OAK), and Sausalito (SAU) airports. Looks like a small section (north of the city and south of the Golden Gate) that may be clear of all the airports. Commercially however, you would have a bit more flexibility with LAANC clearance in certain spots.
  • Note that on May 17th, everything changes for recreational pilots since you will no longer be able to call a tower and notify them that you are flying in controlled airspace.
  • In the SFO area you have the additional restriction that no one is allowed to fly within the boundaries of any Golden Gate recreation area (National Parks).

Be very careful and make sure you look at the maps. I would recommend against flying in either of those locations.
Especially since this came out:
It was discussed in this thread this morning: First New look of FAA Memorandum 2019
 

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mikeGR

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Hi,


Section 336 has nothing to do with whether or not you are a tourist. If you are a licensed Part 107 pilot (you did not make that clear) then you can fly under either set of regulations. If you are strictly a hobbyist then you can only fly under Section 336.


Your ultimate source of reference should always be the VFR Sectional Charts and the UAS Facility Map. With the specific locations you asked about:
  • Las Vegas is pretty much off limits to all recreational operations due to the proximity to airports. If you are flying commercially then there are possible locations for flying with LAANC authorization, to specific altitudes as seen in the grid maps.
  • SFO seems to give you a bit more flexibility as you move further north. Again for recreational operations you don't have much flexibility due to the proximity of San Francisco (SFO), Metropolitan Oakland (OAK), and Sausalito (SAU) airports. Looks like a small section (north of the city and south of the Golden Gate) that may be clear of all the airports. Commercially however, you would have a bit more flexibility with LAANC clearance in certain spots.
  • Note that on May 17th, everything changes for recreational pilots since you will no longer be able to call a tower and notify them that you are flying in controlled airspace.
  • In the SFO area you have the additional restriction that no one is allowed to fly within the boundaries of any Golden Gate recreation area (National Parks).

Be very careful and make sure you look at the maps. I would recommend against flying in either of those locations.
Thank you for the comprehensive reply. I am not part 107 certified so I can only fly under section 336.

I looked up SFO area in Airmap, as I am not sure how to access or even read VFR Sectional Charts and UAS Facility Map. Airmap indicates that most of the city is fine to fly, which kind of contradicts what you said. Am I missing something?

I will be landing at SFO on the 17th and we don’t even know what other changes are possibly coming from FAA regarding hobbyist drone pilots yet. I would expect a grace period until new rules are fully understood and advertised, but again, maybe that’s not how things work in the US.

 

BigAl07

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Thank you for the comprehensive reply. I am not part 107 certified so I can only fly under section 336.

I looked up SFO area in Airmap, as I am not sure how to access or even read VFR Sectional Charts and UAS Facility Map. Airmap indicates that most of the city is fine to fly, which kind of contradicts what you said. Am I missing something?

I will be landing at SFO on the 17th and we don’t even know what other changes are possibly coming from FAA regarding hobbyist drone pilots yet. I would expect a grace period until new rules are fully understood and advertised, but again, maybe that’s not how things work in the US.


While it's possible you might get some small degree of "Grace Period" in terms of enforcement I'd bet my bottom dollar that ATC stops allowing "Hobby Flights" immediately without the proper authorization.
 
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PhantomFandom

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Thank you for the comprehensive reply. I am not part 107 certified so I can only fly under section 336.
Wait a minute. So you are not in the USA now? Section 336 does not mean only that you are not Part 107 licensed. It also means that you have registered yourself as a Section 336 pilot with the FAA. See the FAA website here

I would expect a grace period until new rules are fully understood and advertised, but again, maybe that’s not how things work in the US.
As Al already pointed out, that is highly doubtful. If a regulation is said to apply on May 17th then they mean May 17th.

I looked up SFO area in Airmap, as I am not sure how to access or even read VFR Sectional Charts and UAS Facility Map. Airmap indicates that most of the city is fine to fly, which kind of contradicts what you said. Am I missing something?
Yes that AirMap picture does show basically the same thing that I was referencing from the Sectional Charts. Notice it is only the northern part of San Francisco that is clear. That arc near the bottom of your picture (goes through Daly City) is the SFO Class B airspace. Also note all the shaded areas along the West and North coasts. That is Golden Gate Park and you cannot fly there either.
Some aerial video of the Golden Gate Bridge would be nice but there is nowhere to launch from other than perhaps on the water itself.
 

mikeGR

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Wait a minute. So you are not in the USA now? Section 336 does not mean only that you are not Part 107 licensed. It also means that you have registered yourself as a Section 336 pilot with the FAA. See the FAA website here


As Al already pointed out, that is highly doubtful. If a regulation is said to apply on May 17th then they mean May 17th.


Yes that AirMap picture does show basically the same thing that I was referencing from the Sectional Charts. Notice it is only the northern part of San Francisco that is clear. That arc near the bottom of your picture (goes through Daly City) is the SFO Class B airspace. Also note all the shaded areas along the West and North coasts. That is Golden Gate Park and you cannot fly there either.
Some aerial video of the Golden Gate Bridge would be nice but there is nowhere to launch from other than perhaps on the water itself.
Understood. Well in theory I could potentially launch from the middle of GG bridge itself but with so much iron around me I doubt my compass will be able to function.

I registered with FAA 2 days ago under section 336 and paid the USD5 fee, got the registration number and marked that on my MP, however it looks like that won’t be enough given the new rules coming up.

Guess I’ll have to keep looking out for any news/updates from FAA over the next 48 hrs.
 
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Thomas B

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Understood. Well in theory I could potentially launch from the middle of GG bridge itself but with so much iron around me I doubt my compass will be able to function.

I registered with FAA 2 days ago under section 336 and paid the USD5 fee, got the registration number and marked that on my MP, however it looks like that won’t be enough given the new rules coming up.

Guess I’ll have to keep looking out for any news/updates from FAA over the next 48 hrs.
Maybe fly from a boat outside NFZs to take pics or film the Golden Gate Bridge....
 

BigAl07

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Understood. Well in theory I could potentially launch from the middle of GG bridge itself but with so much iron around me I doubt my compass will be able to function.

I registered with FAA 2 days ago under section 336 and paid the USD5 fee, got the registration number and marked that on my MP, however it looks like that won’t be enough given the new rules coming up.

Guess I’ll have to keep looking out for any news/updates from FAA over the next 48 hrs.

It's all buried in this one but you'll have to work to get to it. Scroll down to section #349
 

BigAl07

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Keep in mind that if you somehow get the aircraft to "Arm/Launch" and then it realizes it's in an NFZ it will immediately AUTO LAND (this is NOT a RTH function) straight down at it's current GPS location regardless if it's over a busy highway or in the middle of a large body of water.
 

Thomas B

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Keep in mind that if you somehow get the aircraft to "Arm/Launch" and then it realizes it's in an NFZ it will immediately AUTO LAND (this is NOT a RTH function) straight down at it's current GPS location regardless if it's over a busy highway or in the middle of a large body of water.
Isn’t this primarily applicable (and very true) for temporary NFZs like around stadiums on game days where you could fly into the area, have the TNFZ start, and then have a resulting immediate forced landing?
 

BigAl07

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Isn’t this primarily applicable (and very true) for temporary NFZs like around stadiums on game days where you could fly into the area, have the TNFZ start, and then have a resulting immediate forced landing?

One would think that... but I was able to get my Mavic Platinum to arm & launch inside one on a job we were doing that was NFZ for Airspace (Greenville SC). We had written authorization and a CUSTOM Unlock. For whatever reason the aircraft launched perfectly and then suddenly alerted that we were flying in a RESTRICTED ZONE. The aircraft stopped, hovered, counted down, and landed vertically with no input from me having any effect.

I've contacted DJI as to how this happened and they still can't explain it.
 

Thomas B

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One would think that... but I was able to get my Mavic Platinum to arm & launch inside one on a job we were doing that was NFZ for Airspace (Greenville SC). We had written authorization and a CUSTOM Unlock. For whatever reason the aircraft launched perfectly and then suddenly alerted that we were flying in a RESTRICTED ZONE. The aircraft stopped, hovered, counted down, and landed vertically with no input from me having any effect.

I've contacted DJI as to how this happened and they still can't explain it.
Thanks for the info. Terrible news! Hopefully just a glitch, but if so the unpredictable nature creates a lot of risk for pilot, drone, property, and possibly people.
 

BigAl07

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Thanks for the info. Terrible news! Hopefully just a glitch, but if so the unpredictable nature creates a lot of risk for pilot, drone, property, and possibly people.
I was lucky as we were operating from a closed construction site and luckily it landed in an open area on the site.
 
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kadras

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Here's the TFR zone for Oracle Park where the San Francisco Giants play. They will be playing there everyday from May 20 through May 26. You'll need to check the times.
72365
 
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Hauptmann

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Flying in San Francisco

You CAN'T take off/land from the GG bridge. You can't take off or land from any SF city park. Most of the rest of SF is legal, except during a TFR (presidential visit, Giants home game, etc). If you want to shoot the GG bridge, you can take off/land from just behind the Palace of Fine Arts even on Giants home game days, but to be legal, you'll need at least two observers (3 is better). I was in SF a few weeks ago, and shot the GG bridge from there, with help of course. Even on game days, you can still get a good view of the city by flying from the residential streets west of Twin Peaks. You'll fly straight up and frame your shot of the city around the top of the towers.

I had heard that the 1000 (curvy) block of Lombard Street was posted as a no-drone zone, but that's not the case. There were no signs there, and people were flying it that day (I didn't--been there, done that). The Ferry Bldg IS a no take off/land area (they'll politely ask you to leave). But you can take off/land from nearby and fly around the building. Just don't be in anyone's way.

Check Airmap. you'll see a bunch of orange (no-fly) circles throughout the city--mostly schools. There's a large orange circle around Transamerica Tower (it has a power plant). Most of the rest of the city is fair game.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast isn't too good while you're there, mikeGR. I hope things change for the better!

SF is a great place to fly. Enjoy, but be safe and legal!
 
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mikeGR

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Flying in San Francisco

You CAN'T take off/land from the GG bridge. You can't take off or land from any SF city park. Most of the rest of SF is legal, except during a TFR (presidential visit, Giants home game, etc). If you want to shoot the GG bridge, you can take off/land from just behind the Palace of Fine Arts even on Giants home game days, but to be legal, you'll need at least two observers (3 is better). I was in SF a few weeks ago, and shot the GG bridge from there, with help of course. Even on game days, you can still get a good view of the city by flying from the residential streets west of Twin Peaks. You'll fly straight up and frame your shot of the city around the top of the towers.

I had heard that the 1000 (curvy) block of Lombard Street was posted as a no-drone zone, but that's not the case. There were no signs there, and people were flying it that day (I didn't--been there, done that). The Ferry Bldg IS a no take off/land area (they'll politely ask you to leave). But you can take off/land from nearby and fly around the building. Just don't be in anyone's way.

Check Airmap. you'll see a bunch of orange (no-fly) circles throughout the city--mostly schools. There's a large orange circle around Transamerica Tower (it has a power plant). Most of the rest of the city is fair game.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast isn't too good while you're there, mikeGR. I hope things change for the better!

SF is a great place to fly. Enjoy, but be safe and legal!
Thank you so much for the detailed reply! This looks encouraging, other than the weather forecast of course.

The 3 observers rule won’t be necessary I guess, other than for the location you mentioned.

@kadras I am flying to LAS on the 20th so that will not be an issue.
 

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