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What To Know Before You Fly Your Drone!

By | Education, FAA | No Comments

Drone Safety Is the Key to Flying!

The only thing scary about drones, is when someone who is uneducated about them is flying.  Soaring Sky believes that with the proper UAV pilot training, anyone can safely fly a drone!  The major problems that you hear on the news with drones usually involve someone flying in a prohibiting area.  Which can easily be avoided if people did a little research before they took off!   As drone enthusiasts we need to understand that flying our quadcopters is a privilege and be respectful of the aviation space we are given.  The following information is a brief overview of what you need to know before take off with your UAV.

FAA Guidelines:

The first step to drone safety is following the regulations that have been set by the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA.  Soaring Sky strongly recommends that you know these guidelines before take off and follow all of them throughout your flight.  

  • Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
  • Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
  • Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
  • Don’t fly near people or stadiums
  • Don’t fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs
  • Don’t be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft

Where Can I Take Off?

As you can tell from the rules above, the area in which you are flying is extremely important!  So how are you supposed to know where you can and can’t take off?  web_horiz_FAA_NDZ_red

Know before you fly provides a very useful map that you can enter in the address that you will be flying around or even sync it to your current location!  It locates all of the airports, prohibiting airspace, national parks, temporary flight restrictions, and marine protected areas. Click here to check it out!  

You always need to check with the specific laws in your state because each may vary.  Especially if you’re bringing your drone on a vacation to a new location.  Click here to view the specific regulations throughout the United States.  

Some drones, such as the Phantom 3, are extra smart when it comes to knowing where they can fly!  For example, the Phantom won’t even take off if it’s within five miles of an airport.  There’s also a cap on the how high the drone will fly, it physically won’t even go any higher than 400 feet.  

Soaring Sky’s Pre- Flight Checklist

The Soaring Sky flight team uses the following checklist before taking flight or even calibration.  Even as professionals, we still make sure that we are always double checking our work and take flying seriously.  

  • Batteries charged
    • Transmitter
    • Aircraft
    • Wifi extender PL
    • Tablet/ smartphone
  • Propellers & Motors
    • Mounted securely
    • No defects
    • Rotate normally
  • Transmitter
    • All switches in upmost position
    • Transmitter throttle to zero
  • Aircraft
    • No defects
    • Camera gimbal connected correctly
  • Systems
    • All switches in upright position
    • Power on your transmitter
    • Powers on wifi extender- PL only
    • Power on your craft and wait for LED lights to flash green, indicating that your craft has achieved its GPS signal
    • Connect wifi via mobile device
    • Open DJI application on mobile device
    • Perform a compass calibration
    • Set capture settings on camera
  • Flying filed
    • Open area- no distractions or obstructions
    • Verify your intended flight path – Know where you can fly
    • Verify weather conditions – wind, visibility, precipitation, temperature
    • With the craft on an even surface at least ten feet away from you, start the motors
    • Start Camera
    • Press up on throttle for takeoff – Hovering at 3-5 feet check controls
    • Stay Below 400 feet
    • Complete Pilot Log


Give our team a call at 239-333-2447 to learn more about the Soaring Sky Academy training courses.

Lessons Learned From the $1.9 Million Fine by the FAA

By | FAA | No Comments

Hire a Drone Company You Can Trust and Follows the FAA Guidelines

If you think you can hide from the FAA, you might want to think again.  The Federal Aviation Association has proposed the largest civil penalty to a drone operator that thought they could get away with bending the rules.  They requested a $1.9 million penalty against drone company Skypan, for violating airspace regulations and flying at a huge risk.

Skypan, a drone company with locations in New York and Chicago, held a 333 exemption from the FAA but royally failed to follow the guidelunnamedines.  Between March 2012 and December 2014, the company conducted 65 unauthorized flights in some of the most congested airspace and populated cities.  Breaking two important safety guidelines: you can’t fly within five miles of any airport or in areas with over 500 people without authorization.

There are two morals from this story that everyone can learn from.  The first is to stay away from the airports when you’re flying!  These rules aren’t meant to be a hassle for drone enthusiasts but instead to keep everyone safe.  There are many apps and websites that you can use to check your location compared to airports, such as hover an app specially for drone pilots.   See an example to the right of what the app looks like and how easy it is to use.

The FAA is starting to take matters into their own hands to prevent accidents and catch the rule breakers.  Currently there testing a pathfinder system to track when drones are within the legal limits of any major airport. It sounds like a futuristic concept but they are even saying that the FAA will be able to force the drone to land or fly back to the pilot.  So here is your fair warning pilots, don’t fly near airports!  Check out more about this advanced technology.  

The second lesson to be learned is that you cannot trust every drone company.  If you’re a business looking to hire a drone company I would recommend to first  make sure they have their FAA registration.  There are countless drone pilots out there performing these services who are not authorized to do so. You don’t want to be in a nightmare where they get caught and it comes back to your business.

Next, you want to make sure that your drone company is fully insured.  If any accidents were to happen while they are on your job, you want to make sure your not liable.   It’s also important to trust the company you’re working with, clearly some who are approved still don’t take the guidelines seriously.

At Soaring Sky we’re passionate about educating on drone safety.  As the leaders in drone technology we strive to set a good example for other enthusiast by always following the FAA guidelines and flying safe.  Call 239-333-2447 or email us at contact@soaringsky.net today to find out more about our services.  

Drone Enthusiasts

Beyond Drone Enthusiasts: Do I Need a License to Fly Commercially?

By | FAA | No Comments

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) used to uphold the same rules and restrictions regarding the operation of unmanned aircraft systems or drones since 2008. These made it very difficult for individuals, businesses, and public service units to get full and proper authorization for them to operate drones for their work and they were still considered drone enthusiasts.

Since 2010, the discussions of the FAA UAS Regulations Notice of Proposed Rulemaking had been open for public commenting. They were supposed to be closed in 2011, but requests for extension were granted and the forum lasted until 2015.Drone1-630x537

Presently, there have been made available special applications for drones used for public and commercial services, but they need to be approved by the FAA first. The Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) grants government agencies and research institutions permission to use drones under certain restrictive circumstances. There is also Section 333, which refers to the permission granted to businesses to fly drones commercially under defined parameters.

Early in 2015, the FAA released a more relaxed interim policy governing the operation of certain small drones for commercial purposes. This is a blanket authorization for drone flights below 200 feet, but it still only applies to businesses that have obtained permission to fly drones.

It’s different for enthusiasts who fly drones for recreation or as a hobby. There’s no need for approval from the FAA to do what they do, but they do have to follow guidelines and observe certain restrictions. If you mean to fly your drone for business purposes, however, the FAA has a different set of regulatory mandates.

How do you obtain permission to fly drones for commercial purposes? Is an FAA license necessary? According to the FAA FAQ page, if an aircraft is issued an airworthiness certificate, then a pilot certificate is required. What this means is that for small drones, users aren’t required to have a pilot’s license, just an operator’s certificate. This is somewhat like a driver’s license for drones and the testing process, which involves knowledge on basic aeronautical operation like emergency procedures, radio communications, and airspace classification.

The FAA had supposedly initially intended to require operators to obtain a pilot’s license, which would have been a steep hurdle for businesses that want to take advantage of the technology for their operations.

To keep a drone pilot’s certificate current, it’s necessary to retake the knowledge test every two years. While it would help to go to a flight school to prepare, it probably wouldn’t be necessary.