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Where do you draw the line from recreational pilot to part 107?

Correct. "Compensation" has nothing to do with it, nor does "commercial". It's either "recreational", or it's "non-recreational".

It's only recreational if the intent is purely for fun or personal enjoyment. Anything else is non-recreational, regardless of whether you receive compensation or not, and regardless of whether you're doing it for your own personal purposes or out of goodwill for a neighbour.

The part that I find wacky is that there are only a bare minimum set of applicable regulations, and only need pass a simple "Trust" test, if you're flying only for fun. This implies that recreational pilots can be trusted to fly safely under those minimum requirements, as long as they're having fun.

Instead the full Part 107 applies if you fly for any reason that is of any useful benefit to anyone. And, according the FAA clarification, it can't even be judged as being flown strictly for recreational purposes, even if you're flying for no particular reason or benefit to anyone, unless you're actually enjoying yourself.

"purely for fun or personal enjoyment"

Why should there be different classes of regulations covering the safe operation of aircraft within the U.S. national airspace, with the separate classifications distinguished only by whether the intent is to have fun or not? What has fun have to do with safety?

It's like saying murder is illegal, unless it's done purely for fun or personal enjoyment. It just makes no sense.
Yeah it's like the faa is telling me to go enjoy myself. That puts a whole new spin on what the regulations say and how they are saying it. Can we tell them to go enjoy themselves where the sun doesn't shine long enough so I can enjoy flying a drone?
 
If this pilot is not part 107, wonder what the FAA will say about it? I guess if you are just flying around for fun and you happened to spot the criminal, fine. However, I get the feel this guy used his drone for law enforcement purposes. I dunno, I don't have the facts.

 
If this pilot is not part 107, wonder what the FAA will say about it? I guess if you are just flying around for fun and you happened to spot the criminal, fine. However, I get the feel this guy used his drone for law enforcement purposes. I dunno, I don't have the facts.

My advice: "I saw this guy whilst I was recreationally flying my drone around. Talk to my lawyer".
 
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I feel like this whole distinction between recreational and part 107 is pure mud and I can't make heads or tails of it for my particular use case. I never want to get compensated in any way - whether financially, good will, or otherwise - from any of my drone work. In fact, I don't even want my name on any of my drone work or to get credit. It's purely for the fun of it and capturing beauty. If other people see it, great, but I honestly don't care.

So with that setup, pick a letter and tell me where you'd draw the line between recreational and Part 107. Do I need a Part 107?

A. I own property in clear airspace with no local restrictions, I launch my drone from my own back yard, go up to 100 feet, take a picture of a park in the distance, and return. I post the picture on my personal Instagram account. So far, this would all be fine under recreational use, right? I can't imagine any problems.

B. The park sees my picture, downloads it from Instagram, and posts it on their website. So far, no problem for me, right?

C. I ask for and receive permission from the park to operate my drone within the park and take a picture for my own enjoyment from within the park. I do the same thing - go up 100 feet, take a very similar picture but this time within the park, and post it on Instagram. The park does the same thing - they copy it and eventually post the picture on their website.

D. Very similar to above, but with one difference. I ask for and receive permission from the park to operate my drone and take a picture from within the park, so long as I give them permission to use the picture to do with what they want. I do the same thing - go up 100 feet, take a very similar picture but this time within the park, and post it on Instagram. They do the same thing - copy the picture from Instagram and post on on their website.

E. Very similar to above, but with one difference. I ask for and receive permission from the park to operate my drone and take a picture from within the park, so long as I give them a copy of the picture to do with what they want. I do the same thing - go up 100 feet, take a very similar picture but this time within the park, and post it on Instagram. I email them a copy of the picture, and they post it on their website.

At what letter do I violate FAA guidelines with a recreational license?

EDIT: For those starting here, I've since added the twist that I would intend to open source all my drone photos and videos, allowing anyone in the world to copy them without giving me credit. I assume I don't need a part 107 just for that. If others want to use my work, I would neither know nor care. This way, I don't need to explicitly give permission (in part D) to use my work because it's inherent in the open source copyright.

First of all, I should mention that the FAA has some kind of strange and nuanced rules, in terms of when a flight becomes commercial or not, and extending so far as to the limits on sharing the cost of fuel with a friend if you’re flying a single engine land to go have a steak at Harris ranch. That said,

Technically, A is not recreational the way you worded it… TECHNICALLY…. And it comes down to intent. If your intent is to take a photo and put it on your Instagram, that exceeds “recreational“ only flight as purpose— that said, I don’t think it would actually get you in trouble provided that you didn’t admit to intending to take the photo before you lift it off and intending to put the photo on Instagram before you took it. If during the course of your “for the express purpose of recreational flight”, you incidentally happen to take some photos or video and then at some point later on you incidentally happen to put them on Instagram but that was not your intent from the beginning then in theory you’re OK.

Of course, who can really determine intent… There are ways, but that’s the very very strict reading.

Important to understand that it is not about exchange of value, it is more about intent and purpose of flight.

From a practical standpoint, however, the bright line is D, because, indeed, you establish INTENT by making an arrangement with the park to give them a photo, by whatever means.

The taking of photos or videos is not prohibited under recreational flight SO LONG AS taking photo or video IS NOT the purpose of the flight.

You lose plausible deniability as soon as you make the arrangement to give a photo to the park, as stated in paragraph D.
 
First of all, I should mention that the FAA has some kind of strange and nuanced rules, in terms of when a flight becomes commercial or not, and extending so far as to the limits on sharing the cost of fuel with a friend if you’re flying a single engine land to go have a steak at Harris ranch. That said,

Technically, A is not recreational the way you worded it… TECHNICALLY…. And it comes down to intent. If your intent is to take a photo and put it on your Instagram, that exceeds “recreational“ only flight as purpose— that said, I don’t think it would actually get you in trouble provided that you didn’t admit to intending to take the photo before you lift it off and intending to put the photo on Instagram before you took it. If during the course of your “for the express purpose of recreational flight”, you incidentally happen to take some photos or video and then at some point later on you incidentally happen to put them on Instagram but that was not your intent from the beginning then in theory you’re OK.

Of course, who can really determine intent… There are ways, but that’s the very very strict reading.

Important to understand that it is not about exchange of value, it is more about intent and purpose of flight.

From a practical standpoint, however, the bright line is D, because, indeed, you establish INTENT by making an arrangement with the park to give them a photo, by whatever means.

The taking of photos or videos is not prohibited under recreational flight SO LONG AS taking photo or video IS NOT the purpose of the flight.

You lose plausible deniability as soon as you make the arrangement to give a photo to the park, as stated in paragraph D.
I think you are spot on with your "intent" discussion; however, I would take it one step further for the sake of clarification. If you intent is to take off and have fun, that's not the end of the line if you intent includes "something else." You could be doing something else that isn't commercial or in furtherance of a business such as:

1.Take off to have fun and....show the photos to my friends to have a good laugh.
2.Take off to have fun and...snap a good photo to add to my profile picture.
3.Take off to have fun and...upload to my instagram feed.

Just because you do more than just have fun doesn't automatically make it a non-recreational flight. It's depend on what more is involved and I would say 1, 2, and 3 are all recreational flights. Even if you took off and intended to show the photos to your 5 best friends who live in another state or you took off and searched around for a good photo for your profile pic or you took off and intended to add 20 new photos to your feed....doesn't violate the original and most relevant aspect which it "to have fun." And, I think you said this, let's make sure we don't try to go too far into what's in someone mind and protract their intent in order to make the switch. Even if you told someone "hey I'm going to the park to go fly and see if I can snap a photo of the ducks on the lake so I can post it on facebook and make everyone thing I'm a professional bird-spotter" to me that's not a commercial flight and you don't need a part 107 license to do it. You don't need a permit to fly a drone and do that.

IMHO
 
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The taking of photos or videos is not prohibited under recreational flight SO LONG AS taking photo or video IS NOT the purpose of the flight.
Say what!? This gets more ridiculous with every post.

Who would ever buy a camera drone if not for the express purpose of taking photos or videos?

Whether I intend to take a photo, or only accidentally press the shutter button during a "fun" flight, makes no difference whatsoever. Whether I intend to take a photo of my cottage, or only coincidentally decide to snap the same photo during a "fun" flight, makes zero difference to the safety of the flight.

Whether I later choose to share that photo with my family or neighbours or anyone else, or even subsequently choose to post it in a real estate advertisement to sell my cottage makes zero difference to the safety of the flight, even if my "intent" all along was to eventually use the photo in the sale of my cottage.

If I'm planning to operate a fleet of thousands of drones to deliver pizza around the world, okay, that might require additional oversight and regulation. But this fascination with "intent" being the only determining factor of whether you can be trusted to fly for "fun" or whether a full Part 107 certification applies is ridiculous.

You're implying if you buy any camera drone, you're better off removing the camera altogether because then it's clear you're not intending to accomplish anything "useful" with your drone except buzz around for "fun". The mere presence of a camera might otherwise be misinterpreted as demonstrating your "intent" to someday take photos or videos on purpose.

Here's a great video from 10 years ago. This guy (in Finland) obviously loves flying his model plane, and he obviously took some time and care in creating this video. This may be one flight carrying several cameras, or multiple flights with the camera re-positioned between flights. Obviously the "intent" of this flight was to create a video, and obviously the "intent" was to share it for others to see on YouTube.

I don't know, or care, whether he made any money off this. I only know the video makes me smile, and I've often passed the link on to others hoping it makes them smile too. For me this, the joy of flying, is what model aviation is all about, and the more this joy is shared with others the better.

The only relevant question should be whether the flight was conducted safely or not? That is what the regulations are for.

Instead, (in the USA at least) the most pressing question always seems to be whether this flight was conducted for "fun" or not, since that is somehow far more critical to safety. But you're suggesting the mere presence of a camera for the "purpose" of intentionally taking photos or videos means the full Part 107 should apply?

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^Agreed and this is the confusion the FAA has reigned upon us. They are the ones that have emphasized the word "intent" and "flying for fun" and I think we have lost focus on the true commercial aspect because recreation is an "exception."

Think about it. If you took a DSLR camera and you told someone you were going to head down to the street corner of 5th and main and get some nice shots of traffic thru the intersection with the intent so you can sell your photos to a car magazine, would anyone stop you and claim you needed a license to do that?

The drone (a flying camera) has been caught up in a complex government process and unfortunately will be subjected to everything that goes along with that including some confusion on the interpretation of the regulations.
 
If you took a DSLR camera and you told someone you were going to head down to the street corner of 5th and main and get some nice shots of traffic thru the intersection with the intent so you can sell your photos to a car magazine, would anyone stop you and claim you needed a license to do that?

They would if you told them you were going to drive your car over the public roadways to the corner of 5th and Main to take those photos...

Just like if you are going to fly your drone in the public airspace to take your photos.

I'm honestly surprised that there was even a recreational exception that was carved out of the part 107 requirements. I guess that should be seen as a major advantage that automobile drivers aren't granted.
 
They would if you told them you were going to drive your car over the public roadways to the corner of 5th and Main to take those photos...

Just like if you are going to fly your drone in the public airspace to take your photos.

I'm honestly surprised that there was even a recreational exception that was carved out of the part 107 requirements. I guess that should be seen as a major advantage that automobile drivers aren't granted.
Sorry I should have been more clear. You are walking to the corner of 5th and main. Do you need a license from the government to take pictures at an intersection and shop them to car magazines? I believe the answer is no.

Flying your drone in the public airspace to take photos is not prohibit without a government license.
 
Say what!? This gets more ridiculous with every post.

Who would ever buy a camera drone if not for the express purpose of taking photos or videos?

Whether I intend to take a photo, or only accidentally press the shutter button during a "fun" flight, makes no difference whatsoever. Whether I intend to take a photo of my cottage, or only coincidentally decide to snap the same photo during a "fun" flight, makes zero difference to the safety of the flight.

Whether I later choose to share that photo with my family or neighbours or anyone else, or even subsequently choose to post it in a real estate advertisement to sell my cottage makes zero difference to the safety of the flight, even if my "intent" all along was to eventually use the photo in the sale of my cottage.

If I'm planning to operate a fleet of thousands of drones to deliver pizza around the world, okay, that might require additional oversight and regulation. But this fascination with "intent" being the only determining factor of whether you can be trusted to fly for "fun" or whether a full Part 107 certification applies is ridiculous.

You're implying if you buy any camera drone, you're better off removing the camera altogether because then it's clear you're not intending to accomplish anything "useful" with your drone except buzz around for "fun". The mere presence of a camera might otherwise be misinterpreted as demonstrating your "intent" to someday take photos or videos on purpose.

Here's a great video from 10 years ago. This guy (in Finland) obviously loves flying his model plane, and he obviously took some time and care in creating this video. This may be one flight carrying several cameras, or multiple flights with the camera re-positioned between flights. Obviously the "intent" of this flight was to create a video, and obviously the "intent" was to share it for others to see on YouTube.

I don't know, or care, whether he made any money off this. I only know the video makes me smile, and I've often passed the link on to others hoping it makes them smile too. For me this, the joy of flying, is what model aviation is all about, and the more this joy is shared with others the better.

The only relevant question should be whether the flight was conducted safely or not? That is what the regulations are for.

Instead, (in the USA at least) the most pressing question always seems to be whether this flight was conducted for "fun" or not, since that is somehow far more critical to safety. But you're suggesting the mere presence of a camera for the "purpose" of intentionally taking photos or videos means the full Part 107 should apply?

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I got mine so I can see what's going on my my neighbor's back yard. :cool:
 
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First of all, I should mention that the FAA has some kind of strange and nuanced rules, in terms of when a flight becomes commercial or not, and extending so far as to the limits on sharing the cost of fuel with a friend if you’re flying a single engine land to go have a steak at Harris ranch. That said,

Technically, A is not recreational the way you worded it… TECHNICALLY…. And it comes down to intent. If your intent is to take a photo and put it on your Instagram, that exceeds “recreational“ only flight as purpose— that said, I don’t think it would actually get you in trouble provided that you didn’t admit to intending to take the photo before you lift it off and intending to put the photo on Instagram before you took it. If during the course of your “for the express purpose of recreational flight”, you incidentally happen to take some photos or video and then at some point later on you incidentally happen to put them on Instagram but that was not your intent from the beginning then in theory you’re OK.

Of course, who can really determine intent… There are ways, but that’s the very very strict reading.

Important to understand that it is not about exchange of value, it is more about intent and purpose of flight.

From a practical standpoint, however, the bright line is D, because, indeed, you establish INTENT by making an arrangement with the park to give them a photo, by whatever means.

The taking of photos or videos is not prohibited under recreational flight SO LONG AS taking photo or video IS NOT the purpose of the flight.

You lose plausible deniability as soon as you make the arrangement to give a photo to the park, as stated in paragraph D.
The INTENT part usually imparts some kind of CRIMINAL ACTIVITY such as SPYING ON MY NEIGHBORS BY LOOKING THROUGH THEIR WINDOWS if I can even see anything. Which is typically already on the law books in most places regardless of how it is done, drone or not. But some how that's been lost in this reasoning why we need more drone regulations even for modelers who have been doing their thing for 70 years. Somehow the FAA is more worried about whether your flight is recreational or commercial instead of what rules already on the books are already considered. They were probably scrambling to come up with some excuse to exercise their authority.

So which is it? Are they more worried about spying on my neighbors given that isn't really that convenient method using a drone to do that or some bastardized idea about whether I'm flying recreationally or commercially? It seems like to me that all of this is bait and switch about what the real purpose for all of this is.

Michael Huerta, Mr. Not a Pilot himself, made it seem like registration is just a government thing, you just wouldn't understand. The answer to everything is just make everybody tell the government what they own, even though it's not necessarily something that has to be on record with the government. What are they going to do with it? Anything? Only on file to be used inconsistent with any stated purpose. Just remember that after being sued over registration, an authority congress didn't assign them at that time, the FAA never refunded anybody's money, nor removed any registrations from their books. They got sued over that too. Only to be given a golden reinstatement of registration authority.
 
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Sorry I should have been more clear. You are walking to the corner of 5th and main. Do you need a license from the government to take pictures at an intersection and shop them to car magazines? I believe the answer is no.

YES you DO need a license. Again INTENT. Eg. here in Los Angeles:

If your intent is to take photos that you will then sell, you must obtain a filming permit from the city. Even still photography. Any photography.

INCLUDING if that commercial photography is indoors on private property. (and for the record, I am a professional filmmaker in Hollywood.)

Your mileage may vary, depending on your city and localities and regional rules. In the city of Los Angeles there are only two exceptions: News gathering and personal use only.

And these rules I've cited don't even bring up the question of drones, which is separate and per FAA or congressional law.
Flying your drone in the public airspace to take photos is not prohibit without a government license.

Here's the thing. Congress, not the FAA, passed the recreational flight exception rule. The recreational flight exception rule was and is to allow people to fly for fun without having to be a certificated part 107 pilot. If you want to do anything more than the intent of flying for fun, you need a part 107 certificate. That's the theoretical bright line, which applies if you were to open your mouth and admit to your intent.

In the United States, the fifth amendment allows you to defend yourself by keeping your mouth shut, and all attorneys will recommend that you do so. You stating intent is the only way that intent can be determined in that case.

The practical bright line assumes that you know better than to actually state your intentions out loud as being other than flying purely for fun. In this case it's the actions or discussions with third parties and so forth to make such agreements as photo sharing, as here you have created a chain of evidence that a reasonable person would recognize as being more than purely flying.

To be clear I am referring in general to US law and no other nation.
 
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Say what!? This gets more ridiculous with every post.
Who would ever buy a camera drone if not for the express purpose of taking photos or videos?
Whether I intend to take a photo, or only accidentally press the shutter button during a "fun" flight, makes no difference whatsoever.

First of all, I am discussing United States law, not Canadian law which may be, and probably is, different.

Second, the fact that a drone has a camera that can take pictures and record is not relevant in the slightest. The "who would ever buy" argument is a logical fallacy.

Here's the reductio ad absurdum: you can buy a gun at Walmart, so to paraphrase what you said above:
"Who would ever buy a gun if not for the express purpose of shooting at ducks and squirrels in the city park?"

I don't know about Canadian law, but here are in the United States, it is generally illegal to shoot at ducks and squirrels in the city park with a gun, even if shooting it ducks and squirrels is a purpose and function of that device.

Back To Drones
You can certainly fly a camera drone without actually recording or taking any stills—you have a live video feed for POV and so forth, it's not as if it's not usable for flying for fun without recording or snapping, but regardless as I indicated above it is not at all relevant to the recreational exception.

What is relevant is the nature and purpose of the recreational exception to the part 107 certification requirement.

Without getting into the entire history, the FAA would simply like everybody be part 107 certified. Naturally there was public outcry, and Congress stepped in and passed a law that is the recreational exception to part 107 requirements. The recreational exception is designed to allow people to fly their remote control aircraft of any kind, including drones, under a certain weight and certain specified conditions, so they are able to fly recreationally for fun without incurring the requirements & responsibilities of becoming a certificated part 107 pilot.

One of the chief requirements is that the intent and purpose of the flight is strictly FLYING for fun. Even something as innocuous as taking photographs for a nonprofit group and donating them for free, automatically put you in the part 107 category. If the intent and purpose of the flight as anything other than that then you don't get to use the recreational exception.

And to be absolutely clear, the recreational exception is a special flight rule enacted by Congress to allow for "purely recreational flying of remote controlled aircraft".
 
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The INTENT part usually imparts some kind of CRIMINAL ACTIVITY such as SPYING ON MY NEIGHBORS BY LOOKING THROUGH THEIR WINDOWS if I can even see anything.

I generally agree with your post overall, however intent does not necessarily imply or impart criminal activity as you indicated, but intent is important in terms of if you were inside or outside the scope of a given regulation, or this case inside or outside of the specific exclusion to a regulation.

Somehow the FAA is more worried about whether your flight is recreational or commercial instead of what rules already on the books are already considered. They were probably scrambling to come up with some excuse to exercise their authority.

So which is it? Are they more worried about spying on my neighbors given that isn't really that convenient method using a drone to do that or some bastardized idea about whether I'm flying recreationally or commercially? It seems like to me that all of this is bait and switch about what the real purpose for all of this is.

See my previous post, but yeah the FAA would just as soon have everybody be certificated part 107 pilots, with no exclusion. With public outcry, the Congress enacted the recreational exclusion. And it is an exclusion to the part 107 regulations to carve-out a relaxed flight rule for purely recreational purposes.
 
^You're a professional photographer in Hollywood. Everything to you is "commercial photography." Taking a picture of your grandmother sitting on a park bench that ends up on the back cover of 80+ magazine or on a link at west-coat-grandmothers.com requires a government permit as far as you are concerned. If you have to obtain a license and a permit to take pictures, so do the millions of others who pickup a camera, right? After all, you can't just let anybody pickup a camera and sell a photo or two, huh?

An individual carrying his camera down a public street in a place where they have a right to be and snapping a photo of something happening in a public space which everyone can see has every right (in most free states in America) to do whatever he wants with that photo without getting permission from his government. What his intentions were when he left his home (on foot) are irrelevant. It's called the First Amendment and those governments that think otherwise are going to find out one day soon.

I get it, if there is a "project" with any commercial value, fine...set the rules, collect the fees, hand out the permits. But a youtuber walking on the public beach shooting an 8-minute video with just his iphone to post on his monetized channel? C'mon.
 
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^You're a professional photographer in Hollywood. Everything to you is "commercial photography." Taking a picture of your grandmother sitting on a park bench that ends up on the back cover of 80+ magazine or on a link at west-coat-grandmothers.com requires a government permit as far as you are concerned.

Ahem, excuse me, I said none of those things. And also, I'm sure you haven't read any of my other posts because you would understand my practical stance on permits is very obviously closer to what you're saying.

But I am telling you what the law is, because you made an assertion that the actual law was something else.

And I am also going to tell you that if you use a tripod in Los Angeles, if a cop sees you, good chance he's gonna come up to you and ask you if you have a permit, or at least, ask if you are shooting something commercial. Tripod use is one of those "bright line" things regarding intent in Los Angeles. I've had these encounters more times than I can remember. But my camera bags have credential tags and I have flyers that I'm ready to hand out with the specifics of the relevant laws, I know exactly what I'm doing, and where I'm doing it, and what to say, etc. etc.

Hint: the fifth amendment is your friend. And always de-escalate.

And finally, of course I will neither confirm nor deny if I've ever been involved in any guerrilla filmmaking activities. 🙄
 
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Flying your drone in the public airspace to take photos is not prohibit without a government license.

Right, and that's why I said that we should be grateful that there is an exemption for recreational only flying. There SHOULD be a license requirement just as there is for automobiles but we have a special exemption afforded to us in those limited circumstances as prescribed by law.

but @NightFlightAlright already said it in those many posts above way better than I could.
 
Right, and that's why I said that we should be grateful that there is an exemption for recreational only flying. There SHOULD be a license requirement just as there is for automobiles but we have a special exemption afforded to us in those limited circumstances as prescribed by law.

but @NightFlightAlright already said it in those many posts above way better than I could.
It created a stir when they jammed the modelers in with the quads. Somebody made a rash decision to do that. Now they practically have to separate them back where they were.
 
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