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Hesitant to fly in Florida

Phochief

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I live in Port St. Lucie Florida and am considering buying a Mavic 2 drone, but after days of reading about all of the FL restrictions and possibly opening myself up to privacy lawsuits, and lack of places to fly has prevented me from taking the plunge. I’m a Nature and Landscape photographer (retired photojournalist), and would only be flying and photographing as a hobbiest. I understand the FAA rules and would abide by them, but it’s the FL laws, county and city ordinances that worry me. I’m retired and don’t want to constantly worry about lawsuits, or that an LEO will charge me with some drone crime.
Am I worrying too much? Are any Florida drone pilots running into problems?
Some advice from Florida hobby drone pilots would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you
David
 

Shakes1118

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David,
I am in Port Saint Lucie too. I just passed the 107 knowledge test the other day after about two hours of studying. I have been flying drones for about six years, since my father and I started building Arduino quadcopters.

Here's my two cents on Florida laws:
Know where you are flying and what the law says.

934.50 - Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act - Effective July 1, 2015
Basically you cannot use a drone to photograph or record individuals with a reasonable expectation of privacy, or of private property without consent. It also places limits on law enforcement use of drones

"A person, a state agency, or a political subdivision as defined in s. 11.45 may not use a drone equipped with an imaging device to record an image of privately owned real property or of the owner, tenant, occupant, invitee, or licensee of such property with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image in violation of such person’s reasonable expectation of privacy without his or her written consent.”

For someone to prove ”intent to conduct surveillance," you would probably need to be doing something to substancially show you you wanted to watch someone in a private location and violate someone's privacy. The current laws have not been challenged in court, so abiding by them is probably wise.

Note on Federal vs State Laws:
Federal airspace laws take precedence over state drone laws. If a state or local law directly conflicts with FAA regulations, the state or local law is likely to be invalidated.

So, you can't be completely oblivious to your location or what you are filming. But, as long as you're not up to something completely fishy, you should be just fine.

Many interesting sites exist to explore the legalities of drone use in FL.:
Know Your Florida Drone Laws [Avoid Trouble and Fly Safe]
Florida - Drone Laws, Rules and Regulations

I'm not sure this was helpful or not, but happy flying.
 

Phochief

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Shakes......thanks for your perspective and links. I'm going to try and send you a PM too.

Thanks,
David
 

Phochief

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Hi all,

I’d still love to hear from any other Treasure Coast Florida drone pilots about flying in city or county parks? Any problems? Do you contact someone first to make sure it’s ok? Also, is there any liability insurance available in our area?

Thanks,
David
 

PalmSunset

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I am traveling and staying on Clearwater Beach in April, and will be there for 6 days before driving over to Orlando for another 5 days.

I have brought my MA and all accessories with me before to Clearwater Beach, as we visit 2-3 times per year. I've had no issues with TSA when we've flown. I'm registered with the FAA, currently studying for my 107.

I have viewed many videos on YouTube from other pilots that are local and those that have visited the area, and I do not see anything malicious that would cause authorities to question the intent of the pilots.

In my past trips, I have brought the MA along with the intent to fly, but the weather prevented it every time- either too windy or rain.

I invested in Litchi and have been building and planning waypoint missions in preparation for my visit. I currently have 2 batteries, and have ordered 3 more just for this trip. (We're going to celebrate my girlfriend's 50th birthday, and we have about 40 people flying in from around the country. I plan to use the early morning hours to take advantage of clear breaks in weather and would also like to catch a few golden hour/sunset flights in the evenings- again, all preplanned waypoint missions.

I have read the regulations and requirements and know that where we're staying is within certain fly zones of heliports and an airstrip in Clearwater. My intention is to contact each of them individually to report my flight(s).

My question is, if I want to fly 4-5 missions in one day, do I need to call each of them prior to takeoff of each mission? Or can I just call and say "I'm staying for X days and will be flying XX missions with a max altitude of XXX" and have them just give blessing for the duration of my vacation?
 

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