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Low flying aircraft

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#1
I saw a plane flying below 400' while flying my mav air today. Is that legal?
They were flying along the coast so maybe the pilot was giving his passenger a cool view of the water.
I assume that anyone flying an aircraft today would expect to hit a drone if their cruising at 400' agl or below, am I wrong?
Pilots do know we are out there dont they? Any feedback from licensed pilots would be appreciated.
There was a second plane at the same location half hour later same thing, below 400'
I left that location drove 7 miles to another location on Galveston Bay and a Helicopter flew out over the Bay and yes it was also at around 300'.
What are aircraft rules flying vls ? I flew in a small plane 25 years ago in the same general area and we were above 1000' going one direction and about 2000' another direction. When we got to the beach we did descend some but I remember pilot saying he could not go lower than 700', I'm not sure of the 700' but whatever it was he knew the rules and wasnt going to break them.
So could some real pilots let me know if its common to fly at such low altitudes.
Thanks for responses in advance
 
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laurens23

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#2
14 CFR 91.119: An aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure. So you can fly 1ft above the ground/water as long as you are 500ft away from any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.

As drone operator you have to yield to any manned aircraft regardless of whether this aircraft is in violation of airspace regulations or not.

Personally I might go as low as 200ft to practice emergency landings, but I would pick a designated practice area or the middle of nowhere, not above a beach with people on it.
 
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#4
I realize this and do yield to manned aircraft but was wondering if the manned aircraft know they are likely to strike a drone when flying below 400' agl
The number of drones is going to increase to the point where flying below 400' will almost guarantee a collision.
My mavic descends 10' per second and can fly less than 40 mph. When I see an aircraft I descend as fast as possible and if I can determine what direction to fly out of the way then I get out of the way. If the plane is at 275' agl and 120 knots I might descend into his path before realizing how low the plane is.
It would be great if manned aircraft had to stay above 400' unless landing or take off.
 
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#5
One of my questions for pilots is do you realize their are thousands of drones flying up to 400 ft agl and if so do you regularly fly below 400 ft and just risk collision !!
 
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DanMan32

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#6
Exactly what I thought when I was 390ft up and near shore, saw a helicopter approaching. My sense of perspective isn't spectacular so I couldn't tell how high or far away from shore he was.
I dropped to 200ft, still unsure of his height. Finally turned my M2 to face him and saw as FPV he was way off shore after all, but somewhere between 250 to 500ft high.
 
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#7
Just thinking that if I were a pilot I would stay at higher altitudes so I dont strike a drone since they are hard to see and the drone pilot is on the ground so cant see me until right on top of him.
Share the Friendly Skies
 
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#8
One of my questions for pilots is do you realize their are thousands of drones flying up to 400 ft agl and if so do you regularly fly below 400 ft and just risk collision !!
A question to you Ron, An F-15 Is flying down a valley at 150ft above the valley floor, it is class G airspace, it collides with a drone.

Who if anyone is at fault in your opinion?
 

laurens23

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#9
was wondering if the manned aircraft know they are likely to strike a drone when flying below 400' agl
The number of drones is going to increase to the point where flying below 400' will almost guarantee a collision.
this is just not true.

There are an estimated 10-20 BILLION birds in the USA.
There are less than 10 MILLION drones in the USA.

One of my questions for pilots is do you realize their are thousands of drones flying up to 400 ft agl and if so do you regularly fly below 400 ft and just risk collision !!
yes, I knowingly take the risk. But also know a collision would be extremely unlikely.

For every 1 drone there are at least 1000 birds.
I estimate birds get 10-100 times more flight time than drones,
Only a small fraction of my flight-time will be below 500ft, birds don't have a height limit and NFZ like drones.

So exposure to drones is probably 1.000.000+ lower than exposure to birds.

There are around 15.000 bird-strikes per year in the USA. ~1 per 2000 flights.
With a factor 1.000.000 less exposure from drones i'll take the 1:2.000.000.000 odds.
 
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#10
14 CFR 91.119: An aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure. So you can fly 1ft above the ground/water as long as you are 500ft away from any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.
For those reading this, this is true only in the USA
 

ascension

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#13
A question to you Ron, An F-15 Is flying down a valley at 150ft above the valley floor, it is class G airspace, it collides with a drone.

Who if anyone is at fault in your opinion?
The drone operator.

Regs are quite clear regarding right of way, and as the military aircraft is in a approved area for this, he is quite OK.
 
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Gr8ful

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#14
I live in farm country & used to love to skud run a foot or 2 off the ground & pull up when you have wind screen full of fence row trees. Also live close to Lake Michigan & used to just touch the tires in enought to get them wet. Once had a red tail hawk go between the left side of the plane unber the wing & above the strut, no strike I was lucky.
 
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Gr8ful

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#15
A question to you Ron, An F-15 Is flying down a valley at 150ft above the valley floor, it is class G airspace, it collides with a drone.

Who if anyone is at fault in your opinion?
I don't think the F15 would even know it hit a Mavic.
 
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BigAl07

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#16
The drone operator.

Regs are quite clear regarding right of way, and as the military aircraft is in a approved area for this, he is quite OK.

Well said.

It's completely OUR responsibility to See & Avoid at all cost. If you can't see far enough then you fly closer to you. Everything else is pointless if you can't See & Avoid manned aircraft. They have the right of way (as well they should) period.

I fly manned aircraft and I have "LEGALLY" flown below 400' many times. Also keep in mind there are many reasons for a manned aircraft to be below 400' (inspections, right of way clearing, crop dusting, MediVac.....) and just because we CAN fly carefree up to 400' doesn't mean we should. If you can't make the flight safely then don't make the flight at all. We may be risking our sUAS but the people in the air have a lot more to lose than $2k sUAS.
 

BigAl07

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#17
I live in farm country & used to love to skud run a foot or 2 off the ground & pull up when you have wind screen full of fence row trees. Also live close to Lake Michigan & used to just touch the tires in enought to get them wet. Once had a red tail hawk go between the left side of the plane unber the wing & above the strut, no strike I was lucky.

Check out Trent Palmer on YT. They do some awesome back-country and mountain flying. BTW Trent is a professional sUAS operator and flies DJI Mavics as well as Heavy Lifter sUAS for a living. Check out this video of his and scrub up to the 3:00min mark

 
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#18
I'm brand new to this hobby, just got my first Mavic Air. So far I've only flown from my house, gratefully located on 40 acres on a mountain at 6700' The closest big city is Grand Junction CO, at 4500', about 20 miles away. Around my place it's common to see small planes fly over at low altitude, seems to be mostly pilots that take off from the valley airports and come up to fly over our mesa. They usually circle around and cruise about a bit, then head back down to the valley. On my 3rd or fourth flight ever I had a plane come over my house at maybe 250 AGL. I'll admit it was a little scary at first, he seemed to come out of nowhere. I quickly brought my MA down to 60 feet and hovered while he passed. I have no plans of flying BVLOS, and I figure I'll just have to get used to watching for the planes, since most seem to be below 400. I also have a few neighbors that have small planes and ultralights, and they frequently fly over at less than 100 AGL in the summer. Are these guys "breaking the rules" per se? I certainly have no issue with staying out of their way, but I am curious if they "should" be flying higher.
 

Wilbur&Garth

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#19
I saw the most bizarre thing the other day. I was driving across the interstate bridge from downtown Portland, and from there you can see a good ways down the river towards the industrial area. A small one or two person plane flew over the bridge and started descending rather rapidly. At first I thought it might have been a seaplane, but realized it didn't have the buoys (term?) on the landing struts. It continued descending til it was literally less than 10 feet off the water and went down the river until I couldn't see it anymore. I have no idea if this move was legal or not, but it surprised me to see a plane flying so incredibly low in city limits above a river (not lake or ocean) not near an airport. Any pilots have insight into this kind of incident?
 

BigAl07

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#20
I'm brand new to this hobby, just got my first Mavic Air. So far I've only flown from my house, gratefully located on 40 acres on a mountain at 6700' The closest big city is Grand Junction CO, at 4500', about 20 miles away. Around my place it's common to see small planes fly over at low altitude, seems to be mostly pilots that take off from the valley airports and come up to fly over our mesa. They usually circle around and cruise about a bit, then head back down to the valley. On my 3rd or fourth flight ever I had a plane come over my house at maybe 250 AGL. I'll admit it was a little scary at first, he seemed to come out of nowhere. I quickly brought my MA down to 60 feet and hovered while he passed. I have no plans of flying BVLOS, and I figure I'll just have to get used to watching for the planes, since most seem to be below 400. I also have a few neighbors that have small planes and ultralights, and they frequently fly over at less than 100 AGL in the summer. Are these guys "breaking the rules" per se? I certainly have no issue with staying out of their way, but I am curious if they "should" be flying higher.

In sparsely populated areas (and the term sparsely is never defined so they've given us enough rope to hang ourselves . . .) that's perfectly legal. Below is a copy of the actual Regulations:

§ 91.119 Minimum safe altitudes: General.
Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:

(a)Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard topersons or property on the surface.

(b)Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.

(c)Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.

(d)Helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift-control aircraft. If the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface -

(1) A helicopter may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, provided each person operating the helicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA; and

(2) A powered parachute or weight-shift-control aircraft may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (c) of this section.


I highlighted the section that pertains to this topic!!
 
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