How do I know if I am flying my drone too close to an airport?
Answer: In a perfect world, all of your flight planning should be done well ahead of time. Finding out if you are near an airport environment should be your first priority. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), hobbyists who want to fly drones within five miles of an airport must notify the airport operator and the air-traffic-control tower (if there is one) prior to flying. You’ll be surprised at how easy this is, especially once you have the proper contact info. Talking to air-traffic-control personnel can be quite an enjoyable experience. Aeronautical charts offer the most traditional and reliable way of finding airports. It is not necessary to purchase the paper version because the digital versions of all the charts are available at skyvector.com. You can explore airports near you and find the control tower’s contact information. When calling the staff at the air-traffic-control tower at the airport near you, be sure to have your exact location, planned maximum altitude, and flight time ready for them so that they can quickly process your request. Always check your airport’s operating hours well ahead of your flight. Getting in touch with FAA representatives gets easier each time you do it. The FAA recently released the B4UFLY app for Apple and Android operating systems. B4UFLY asks users for voluntary information about their planned flight. Providing this information does not meet the statutory requirement to notify the airport and air-traffic-control facility, but the data help the FAA make informed policy decisions related to notification. Inside the app, users find out if it is safe to fly at their current location by tapping twice. The app provides a status indicator that tells users one of three messages: “Proceed with Caution,” “Warning—Action Required,” or “Flight Prohibited.” The app planner mode allows users to select different times and locations for upcoming flights. It also determines if there are any flight restrictions that will be issued for that place and time, which might prove invaluable.
By Gus Calderon