Hey There! Wanted to share a drone encounter I had today at Infinity Science Center in Pearlington, MS. I was simply driving along Route 10E and spotted this huge Shuttle looking apparatus from the road, and decided to take pix for a dear friend who loves space stuff. I just knew it would put a smile on his face. So I pull off and go to the center, used my AAA discount and paid only $16 admission. (normally $18). I go out to the side of the building to take pix of what I then learned to be a “booster”. It was huge, so now i’m thinking NEED DRONE pix! I looked all around to see if there were any “no drone” signs, and there were none. I popped onto the Airmap App, which looked clear, so I went into the center (not many visitors today at all) and go to the woman behind the counter to ‘ask’ permission for taking the drone pix, fully intending to hear her say sure, but she hesitated and said “Let me call upstairs.” I put the “ask” in quotes since my asking was more of a conversation starter, to introduce myself and make a positive impression of drone photographers. Whomever she talked to evidently said they had to go ask, cause she hung up and said “She’ll call me right back” few minutes later the call came and she hung up and told me they said no, I asked “Did she say why not?” and that woman looked puzzled and I said “I have a drone pilot certificate”, to which the puzzlement grew into a shrug with a trailing, “Ummmm..she…”, and I decided to leave it alone for the moment, and review again what the Airmap App was telling me. I took screen shots to show you.
Okay….. So what could be nearby? I zoom out a little and get an orange triangle, then eventually a red triangle. BUT never the less those items are further away and also on the other side of the highway. See Screen Shots below:
It is showing an orange caution triangle now in the lower black portion which I can then click on to read what the caution is. The reason it is showing as orange is because when i zoom out, i then capture that blue shaded area on top of the screen (the north side of Route 10). but…as mentioned I can pinch to zoom in or zoom out of my geo-location. The next photo shows you the 3 cautions telling me that area is “Special Use” I did click on those to reveal them as “restricted special use” There is both restricted and prohibited special use. Prohibited would give me RED fer sure!
However, remember: I am that light blue dot. I am in CLASS G (uncontrolled) Airspace.
CALL THE FAA…
So now I want to call the FAA for clarification since there were no signs, and the AirMap app is indicating by all rights I should not have restriction to fly here. I called 844-FLY MY UA. When I chatted with an FAA specialist, I explained all the above and they did indeed confirm I was in CLASS G airspace. (meaning I was reading the Airmap app map correctly.) The agent proceeded to help clarify to me that persons can deny permission to fly on their property, BUT they do not own the airspace, so if I go across the street, or off the property, (for take-off and landing) I am well within my rights to legally fly and could have done so. There does happen to be a MS Welcome Center right next door I could have taken off from and landed on. Of course, maintaining all the other part 107 rules, if I declared the flight as commercial part 107. (no flying over people, VLOS, <400 ft AGL, etc.) See FAA Site for all specifics on part 107, but here is the list I am referring to:
The rules governing sUAS operated under part 107 include
- The aircraft must be registered if over 0.55 lbs;
- Must fly only in uncontrolled airspace;
- Must keep the aircraft in sight (visual line-of-sight);
- Must fly under 400 feet;
- Must fly during the day;
- Must fly at or below 100 mph;
- Must yield right of way to manned aircraft;
- Must NOT fly over people;
- Must NOT operate from a moving vehicle.
Ride out the Storm!
Funny enough, while I was gathering all my data, a significant storm front rolled in so I was unable to put her up after all was said and done, but this was a wonderful exercise because clearly The Center was not in tune to the true regulations, and I wanted to be certain that I had my ducks in a row before challenging or pushing the issue. Next time I am in this type situation I will be able to confidently educate, stand my ground, and grab some AWESOME pix and footage 🙂
These are simple iPhone snaps I grabbed while I was there. You can see that storm starting to roll in in that bottom pic! lol.
Well, I was on my way to Montgomery, AL, (from Lafayette, LA), so I ended up just getting back on the road without going back to chat up with the Center Staff, and as predicted my friend really liked these (and a few other) simple photos and short video I texted him.
I proceeded to drive through 8 severe lightening & thunder and 40-mph-cant-see in-front-of-you-flashers-on storms before hitting Montgomery earlier this evening.
My AirBnB hostess is/was AMAZING! Not only was I greeted by a gorgeous Mastiff! (her friends doggy) but their home is gorgeous and she had a special doggy cookie awaiting me in this cozy, artsy bedroom. She even fixed me some rice noodles soup with her fresh garden basil and fresh mozzarella, PLUS gave me some of her fresh garden mint for my morning tea! I couldn’t believe how flavorful that basil was! OMGness. We chatted over the soup – what a lovely woman, felt so comfortable chatting with her. AWESOME way to close out the day. I’m way beat now, can’t believe I had the energy to write this. Will give it a re-read tomorrow before final posting.
Cheers and Snaps,