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Where can I legally fly my new Mavic 3 Pro around South Bay Area?

shiqiu1105

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Hi pilots,

I just got a new Mavic 3 Pro and can't wait to try out the 3 lenses.

I have brought myself up-to-speed with all the legal requirements for drone flying, including
  • Registered my drone
  • Taken TRUST
  • Put register number on my drone body
  • Used LANNC to get for FAA airspace regulations
  • Maintaining line of sight. 400 ft etc.
However, it is the local regulations that are really frustrating.
After 2 days of researching, I haven't found a place to comfortably fly my drone without worrying about getting a ticket or being frowned upon around the south bay area, silicon valley.

Can any pilots nearby share some tips about where I can fly my drones?


If not, let me reframe my question.
Are the following locations legal to take off / landing?
  • Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay?
    • This seems promising, I haven't explicitly found a rule on the website saying drones are not allowed
  • Local parks?
  • Highway 1 coast?
    • Originally I thought I could film the beautiful CA coastline, and drive to spots like Shark Fin Cove
    • Until I found this: Big Sur area Drone Restrictions – B I G S U R D R O N E
    • And some discussions here:
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    • So no go either?
  • What about the mountains/wilderness around Milpitas, Los Altos Hills?
    • There are private residential areas but can I take off on the road and ascend high so I won't disturb local residents?
  • Bayland Park Sunnyvale
    • Saw lots of posts recommending that as the Rangers allow it
    • But it is forbidden by FAA as it's controlled airspace

Honestly I am considering returning the drone if the rules basically doesn't allow me to fly legally.
This is so messed up.
 
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Howdy there. Question about the parks... For the fee. Make sure the portion about taking pictures is where you are making money for an event. I know down in So Cal there is a fee if you are doing it for a photo event, like weddings, baby pics and such, but not for personnel use. I fly in parks down here, like regional parks with no issues. I also read in the link that a permit is required to fly there. Have you inquired what it would take to get the permit. I also fly along the coast with no issues until I get close to an FAA restricted area, which I am aware of and avoid those areas.
Good luck in your flying and enjoy it.
 
Howdy there. Question about the parks... For the fee. Make sure the portion about taking pictures is where you are making money for an event. I know down in So Cal there is a fee if you are doing it for a photo event, like weddings, baby pics and such, but not for personnel use. I fly in parks down here, like regional parks with no issues. I also read in the link that a permit is required to fly there. Have you inquired what it would take to get the permit. I also fly along the coast with no issues until I get close to an FAA restricted area, which I am aware of and avoid those areas.
Good luck in your flying and enjoy it.
I’m not flying for business.. I am just a pure hobby landscape photographer — I have zero in come from drones.

I assume your coast flight are not in one of those NOAA controlled area?
 
I have been Flying around California for some time now here are a few things I have learned:
Don't go near or around any National parks.
Call ahead for State parks. Some are fine as long as you get permission the rest are VERY "Iffy" and they will site Fire danger or protected areas to keep you grounded.
ANY place tourist go........Forget it.
Most State parks have signage telling you NO drones BUT in most cases they mean without permission and if you approach the authorities there you may be surprised when they let you fly.
The state park people here want to know exactly where you are flying because we have SO MANY protected areas in the state.
I guess what I am saying is CALL and ask You will get to fly alot more places.
Beaches well these are rare and very few will let you fly My best advice for that is be friendly Don't disturb people OR WILDLIFE and cooperate with the beach authorities.. If you check those boxes you just may fly.
One more thing Forget flying around to many places in San Francisco....Its doable BUT lots of restrictions and No Drone Zones..Plus Frisco aint safe! My 2 Cents....
 
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I have been Flying around California for some time now here are a few things I have learned:
Don't go near or around any National parks.
Call ahead for State parks. Some are fine as long as you get permission the rest are VERY "Iffy" and they will site Fire danger or protected areas to keep you grounded.
ANY place tourist go........Forget it.
Most State parks have signage telling you NO drones BUT in most cases they mean without permission and if you approach the authorities there you may be surprised when they let you fly.
The state park people here want to know exactly where you are flying because we have SO MANY protected areas in the state.
I guess what I am saying is CALL and ask You will get to fly alot more places.
Beaches well these are rare and very few will let you fly My best advice for that is be friendly Don't disturb people OR WILDLIFE and cooperate with the beach authorities.. If you check those boxes you just may fly.
One more thing Forget flying around to many places in San Francisco....Its doable BUT lots of restrictions and No Drone Zones..Plus Frisco aint safe! My 2 Cents....
Thanks for these tips.

When calling authorities, how fast is the turn around time to get a permit? I read on their website that it takes weeks if not months. And it also costs hundreds of USD?
 
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Satna Cruz. C'mon over!

There are a ton of places to fly. Dramatic ocean waves crashing on cliffs. Most of the landscape is unencumbered too. Seacliff Beach State Park allows drones in a designated area, and if you make sure not to transition over people (easy), you can get out over the water and fly up and down the coast with great beach shots.

Closer, Lexington Reservoir is a fun place to fly. There are a few parking lots that don't allow takeoff and landing, but the airspace is entirely open. The dam is pretty cool to shoot.

Private Message me, and we can arrange to meet for some flying fun.
 
When calling authorities, how fast is the turn around time to get a permit? I read on their website that it takes weeks if not months. And it also costs hundreds of USD?
That can all depend of course BUT most of the parks in Cali will let you fly as long as they are not in a National park ( the case with a bunch of them.) I have gone to State parks near Bakersfield and never saw a person OR any rule against it. I have gone to some around the State and told them the ""I am just passing thru and I just want a few quik shots without disturbing anyone"" Story and got the go ahead...Sometimes with them in tow. I would say the sooner you contact them the better. ALSO below are the Drone Laws here in California they list specifically where you cannot Fly. Beyond whats listed would be a Local law not state and outside of the big cities I don't encounter many of those.


I forgot to add ... Make SURE you have a copy of your trust card, They WILL deny you at many parks..........They know the drill from the Police around here..... They take a Drone class and Know what the TRUST is. (and know they can ground you for not having it).
 
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That can all depend of course BUT most of the parks in Cali will let you fly as long as they are not in a National park ( the case with a bunch of them.) I have gone to State parks near Bakersfield and never saw a person OR any rule against it. I have gone to some around the State and told them the ""I am just passing thru and I just want a few quik shots without disturbing anyone"" Story and got the go ahead...Sometimes with them in tow. I would say the sooner you contact them the better. ALSO below are the Drone Laws here in California they list specifically where you cannot Fly. Beyond whats listed would be a Local law not state and outside of the big cities I don't encounter many of those.


I forgot to add ... Make SURE you have a copy of your trust card, They WILL deny you at many parks..........They know the drill from the Police around here..... They take a Drone class and Know what the TRUST is. (and know they can ground you for not having it).
Got it, I keep a PDF of my TRUST card in my phone so I can pull it up when asked.

Is that enough or do I always need a physical copy?
 
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Me either I can say the Park people have always given me the reasons for saying no the few times they said it Where: Other People Followed by the wildlife thing and then the fire. In California Areas with lots of trees are classified as " Wilderness" and you cant fly over Wilderness Because of the Fire hazards SO remember that If you are planning on going to a park with lots of trees they will say NO.
 
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Baylands is great. You may have to pay a little for parking depending on the time of year but even tho you see it in controlled airspace, you should also see Baylands as an area in apps like Aloft Air Control as areas that are known flying areas. Sure you see aircraft taking off from Mineta, so what? They’re miles away and 1000+ and climbing fast. Just take it to Baylands. You should also note that DJI’s no fly areas won’t prevent you from flying and taking off here, as it is in their system as a safe place to fly as well. I fly and test new equipment and software there often. Big drones too like my Inspire 2. Go to Baylands. Head over to the north side of the park, near the baseball fields next door, read the posted signs about flying and where to avoid when you’re there and you’ll be ok. Promise.
 
Baylands is great. You may have to pay a little for parking depending on the time of year but even tho you see it in controlled airspace, you should also see Baylands as an area in apps like Aloft Air Control as areas that are known flying areas. Sure you see aircraft taking off from Mineta, so what? They’re miles away and 1000+ and climbing fast. Just take it to Baylands. You should also note that DJI’s no fly areas won’t prevent you from flying and taking off here, as it is in their system as a safe place to fly as well. I fly and test new equipment and software there often. Big drones too like my Inspire 2. Go to Baylands. Head over to the north side of the park, near the baseball fields next door, read the posted signs about flying and where to avoid when you’re there and you’ll be ok. Promise.

>you should also see Baylands as an area in apps like Aloft Air Control as areas that are known flying areas.

This is good info, are there any other areas like this?
are you sure Bayland is still good in 2024?

I am okay with being able to just fly for fun near home and then fly for the real deal photography when I travel to Europe.

I hope there is another known good place to fly along the coast because it is so beautiful.
 
Baylands is great. You may have to pay a little for parking depending on the time of year but even tho you see it in controlled airspace, you should also see Baylands as an area in apps like Aloft Air Control as areas that are known flying areas. Sure you see aircraft taking off from Mineta, so what? They’re miles away and 1000+ and climbing fast. Just take it to Baylands. You should also note that DJI’s no fly areas won’t prevent you from flying and taking off here, as it is in their system as a safe place to fly as well. I fly and test new equipment and software there often. Big drones too like my Inspire 2. Go to Baylands. Head over to the north side of the park, near the baseball fields next door, read the posted signs about flying and where to avoid when you’re there and you’ll be ok. Promise.
>you should also see Baylands as an area in apps like Aloft Air Control as areas that are known flying areas.
I just checked Aloft Air Control and I am not seeing Bayland Sunnyvale marked as known flying areas, what am missing?
 
>you should also see Baylands as an area in apps like Aloft Air Control as areas that are known flying areas.

This is good info, are there any other areas like this?
are you sure Bayland is still good in 2024?

I am okay with being able to just fly for fun near home and then fly for the real deal photography when I travel to Europe.

I hope there is another known good place to fly along the coast because it is so beautiful.
Yes I’m confident. Go down there and find out for yourself. Look for their signage that speaks about drone and RC flying and stick to those rules, they’re normally posted on sandwich boards around the entrances to the paths in the park. Do not exceed the ceiling for the area and have fun. Be safe.
 
Yes I’m confident. Go down there and find out for yourself. Look for their signage that speaks about drone and RC flying and stick to those rules, they’re normally posted on sandwich boards around the entrances to the paths in the park. Do not exceed the ceiling for the area and have fun. Be safe.
Awesome, thanks for confirming!


So far, it seems like there are two known places that are for sure legal to fly in Bay Area then.
  1. Bayland Sunnyvale
  2. Seacliff State Beach: California State Parks

I hope there are more spots like this where I can fly and not worry about getting caught.
 
Awesome, thanks for confirming!


So far, it seems like there are two known places that are for sure legal to fly in Bay Area then.
  1. Bayland Sunnyvale
  2. Seacliff State Beach: California State Parks

I hope there are more spots like this where I can fly and not worry about getting caught.

Sorry if I wasn't clear... It's legal to fly over all of Santa Cruz, except for near Watsonville Municipal Airport, and a few landmarks.

Drive up the coast on Highway 1. See some dramatic cliffs you want to capture? Pull over, launch your drone, and fly!

There's nothing to "get caught" for. It's legal. And most of the geography between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay is wild or agricultural, so no people or vehicles to worry about flying over.
 
Sorry if I wasn't clear... It's legal to fly over all of Santa Cruz, except for near Watsonville Municipal Airport, and a few landmarks.

Drive up the coast on Highway 1. See some dramatic cliffs you want to capture? Pull over, launch your drone, and fly!

There's nothing to "get caught" for. It's legal. And most of the geography between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay is wild or agricultural, so no people or vehicles to worry about flying over.

I thought so too and I was actually prepping a trip to Shark Fin Cove until I saw this:

In the Aloft Air Control map Highway 1 is also flagged a no fly zone because of the reasons above.

In other air map, like Autopylot, Big Sur and other Highway 1 area are shown as legal to flight though.

1719175075046.jpeg
1719175086381.jpeg
 
Yup, not sure where you're getting your information... Both Autopylot and Airspace show the entire coast from San Francisco to Monterey to be uncontrolled, open airspace.

DJI's FlySafe database let's me fly anywhere along the coast in Santa Cruz and north without any restrictions, and the only warning I get is close to the Watsonville Municipal Airport, to be cautious there may be aircraft in the area.

If, as you started this thread about, your looking for some spectacular places to fly, it's 30 minutes away.

Here's some FPV fun at the Seacliff Field:

 
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