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aaronwilliam

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I'm flying on a lake called Mitchell Lake, it's connected to a bigger lake called Big Lake. There's two seaplanes on the other lake that occasionally land and take off, sometimes on Mitchell Lake but most commonly on Big Lake. I understand I'm supposed to give way to manned aircraft and normally I would just bring my drone down in altitude or land it depending how far it is over the water if I hear what sounds like a low-flying aircraft. But when on the beach of my lake house (where I takeoff from) I cannot hear the seaplanes when they takeoff from the other lake, so my question is, if I'm flying towards the middle of Mitchell Lake and I'm at let's say 400 feet and I cannot hear the seaplane until it gets high enough or I don't see it until it starts to fly over Mitchell Lake coming from Big Lake on a takeoff what do I do? When they're coming from Big Lake on a takeoff they're usually not more than a couple hundred feet off the ground when they start to flyover Mitchell Lake continuing to ascend in altitude. I attached a screenshot from Airmap, there's no seaplane base or any type of airport nearby so I believe I'm legally allowed to fly at the aforementioned altitude of 400 feet and I'd really like to be able to fly at that altitude because of the views you get of surrounding lakes. I can't really find anything (from Google searches) on how this can be approached. I also didn't know if this should go in the "Rules and Regulations" forum or anywhere else so I'm just posting it here in General Discussions, please let me know if I should repost it somewhere else.


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SmileyGC

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Why not contact the other pilots / flying club and get to know each other.
I used to fly (private pilots) in northern UK, there were a few fields that had parachute clubs. I would contact them to get there activities if ever I was going to fly close by....
 

jeplane

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- buy a radio with aviation frequency and listen to manned aicraft position?
- make the FAA happy and keep your aircraft in VLOS, which would mean that you would hear a seaplane coming?
 

ScottM2Zoom1

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Hmmmm...quite a delima. I await other replies. I am both private pilot and drone pilot. My opinion...Yielding right of way .... law or no law is irrelevant in your situation because you can't you can't hear, see, or know the float plane is encroaching. I guess if I was in your situation I would contact the float plane pilots, explain the situation and my concern for everybody's safety, and ask them to please call me to let me know their planned flight activity in and out so I could appropriately adjust my drone flight activity. I would commit to always having my phone on me while flying drone and plug their numbers into my contacts so I know it's them calling. They should care about their own safety enough to agree. Seems that's all you can do. I await other thoughts on your delima.
 
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ScottM2Zoom1

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- buy a radio with aviation frequency and listen to manned aicraft position?
- make the FAA happy and keep your aircraft in VLOS, which would mean that you would hear a seaplane coming?
Handheld avaition radios are not cheap at all. Also private pilots flying in to private low to zero traffic strips will not or will rarely call the pattern over radio. I don't when I land on my strip. Who would I call the pattern to? VLOS is not the issue when a plane is flying 120 knots and you can't see or hear it until it's too late to get out of the way. I have handheld avaition radios, 5 planes, and a private strip. While your looking down at your screen flying your drone I guarantee you won't see or hear me in my Cessna / Chipmonk / Piper etc when I'm flying straight at you at 200 ft above ground...until I'm 300 yards from you and Cosing at 120 knots which yields about a 3 second window for avoidance ...and that's if the drone is straight above drone pilot. VLOS in this guys situation is irrelevant . Something (communication)must be worked out with the float plane pilots for everyone's safety concern. This is quite a delema but fixable if all parties are reasonable.
 
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BigAl07

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Your requirement is to always See & Avoid. There is no written rule on how you do that but your ultimate responsibility is to not interfere with manned aircraft. The fact that they are often in approach/departure configuration when near you makes this situation even more alarming (from a pilot's perspective) because this is when aircraft are most vulnerable and least maneuverable. Low, slow, and Task Saturated is the last place you want to be when a drone pops up in your front window.

I think (I'm tossing spit wads here) that I would do the following things:

  • 1) Reach out to local aviators (club, local meeting place, their dock etc) and have an honest and sincere conversation with them. Let them know who you are, where you like to fly, and your routines. Find out what their routines are and ask how best you can fly and not jeopardize their safety. Be sure to ask if they make "positional announcements" etc over the radio and what their frequency and procedure is.

  • 2) Ask if they would be willing to take you up for some Touch-n-goes so you can see/feel what's happening in the area where you're wanting to fly. Having a real understanding of what they do and how/where they do it can add a lot of clarity to what you're trying to do.

  • 3) If you can't come to some type of understanding/agreement seriously consider where you're flying. While we all want to enjoy this amazing hobby and get those stunning pictures of our property and surroundings we still have to realize that there are living and breathing people in those airplanes and at the end of the day nothing is worth causing a problem and risking another human being's life.

KUDOS to you for being aware and caring. The mere fact that you're here asking means a LOT. Unfortunately so many other of our industry would just say, "Hey it's my right to fly when and where I want so the other guys just gotta watch out and make room for my drone. Ready or not here I come . . . "

Good luck and keep us posted. This has the potential to create an awesome friendship with fellow aviators but is also has some serious potential to do some harm if not handled properly.

Safe Flights,
Allen
 

RWP

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Handheld avaition radios are not cheap at all. Also private pilots flying in to private low to zero traffic strips will not or will rarely call the pattern over radio. I don't when I land on my strip. Who would I call the pattern to? VLOS is not the issue when a plane is flying 120 knots and you can't see or hear it until it's too late to get out of the way. I have handheld avaition radios, 5 planes, and a private strip. While your looking down at your screen flying your drone I guarantee you won't see or hear me in my Cessna / Chipmonk / Piper etc when I'm flying straight at you at 200 ft above ground...until I'm 300 yards from you and Cosing at 120 knots which yields about a 3 second window for avoidance ...and that's if the drone is straight above drone pilot. VLOS in this guys situation is irrelevant . Something (communication)must be worked out with the float plane pilots for everyone's safety concern. This is quite a delema but fixable if all parties are reasonable.
How about if you know the normal? approach path that you just either stay down on the deck or fly higher outside of normal approach area. You do not want to be the cause of an accident, bird strikes happen and we have no control over them but we do have or should have control over our drones. apply common sense. There is no picture worth the loss of life. Just my 2C
 
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ScottM2Zoom1

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How about if you know the normal? approach path that you just either stay down on the deck or fly higher outside of normal approach area. You do not want to be the cause of an accident, bird strikes happen and we have no control over them but we do have or should have control over our drones. apply common sense. There is no picture worth the loss of life. Just my 2C
The approaches and departures will always be into the prevailing wind. FYI. So....With the wind at your back (as a general rule of thumb) you should be facing all planes as they land and take off. However there are variables to consider associated with the landing pattern....ie the route these particular pilots use or don't use to set up their landings. Typical is 3 sides of a square. Down wind and parallel to strip (lake I guess in this case) ...the full length of the strip and beyond end of strip. This is usually a rather constant but low altitude....it can certainly be low enough to mix it up with your drone. Next is the 90° turn towards the end of the strip but beyond the strip maybe 1/2 mile. Then another 90° turn to line up with the strip on final approach. Things are very busy in the cockpit on final approach as the plane descends for landing. The problem is....is you never know if a given pilot will be flying the full standard pattern and at what altitudes. Do a little research on landing and departure patterns....then go talk to the pilots. I assure you they will be very appreciative of your outreach. Ask them to help you understand their take off and landing patterns and altitudes and discuss collision avoidance plan that works for everybody. You might end up getting a plane ride and take your drone.....you never know. You will have made friends for sure....no matter.
 

jeplane

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"Handheld avaition radios are not cheap at all"
I grabbed mine on Ebay for $200, so let's not exaggerate. You don't need the one with fancy VOR nav on it.

"Also private pilots flying in to private low to zero traffic strips will not or will rarely call the pattern over radio."
Just because you don't, doesn't mean others do not do radio calls.

"VLOS is not the issue when a plane is flying 120 knots and you can't see or hear it until it's too late to get out of the way."
What in the world are you doing at 120 Kts at 200 'AGL?
I disagree that we would not hear you come, because to maintain this speed with the singles you mentioned, it would mean that you are above 2400 RPM.


- It seems that BigAl has the best answer so far. Communication is the key. It is possible that the seaplanes would be willing to communicate on a separate frequency, like 123.45, and a drone pilot would be able to state his position.
- Strobes lights would make sense as well.
- Flying early in the morning might be a way to do it, before the seaplanes show up.
- Finally, if there is no way to do this safely with manned traffic, a risk management assessment would be required. (IE.Is it worth the shot?)
 

ScottM2Zoom1

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"Handheld avaition radios are not cheap at all"
I grabbed mine on Ebay for $200, so let's not exaggerate. You don't need the one with fancy VOR nav on it.

"Also private pilots flying in to private low to zero traffic strips will not or will rarely call the pattern over radio."
Just because you don't, doesn't mean others do not do radio calls.

"VLOS is not the issue when a plane is flying 120 knots and you can't see or hear it until it's too late to get out of the way."
What in the world are you doing at 120 Kts at 200 'AGL?
I disagree that we would not hear you come, because to maintain this speed with the singles you mentioned, it would mean that you are above 2400 RPM.


- It seems that BigAl has the best answer so far. Communication is the key. It is possible that the seaplanes would be willing to communicate on a separate frequency, like 123.45, and a drone pilot would be able to state his position.
- Strobes lights would make sense as well.
- Flying early in the morning might be a way to do it, before the seaplanes show up.
- Finally, if there is no way to do this safely with manned traffic, a risk management assessment would be required. (IE.Is it worth the shot?)
You're sinking into details and splitting hairs on avaition general information meant for a non pilot. I do not wish to get into what you or I do or don't do and the numbers involved. I simply wanted to point out there are many variables which your input highlights as well...the differences between each pilot.....and that communication is essential between the drone and aircraft pilots. I don't have time more inclination for pissing matches. Have a great day.
 

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