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Newbie confused about how close I can fly to airport without a tower

repete7

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Jun 12, 2019
Messages
5
I'm in the US. I get that as a hobbyist/recreational flyer, I can't fly within 5 miles of an airport with a tower (controlled airspace) until LAANC is opened up to us. What I don't understand is how close I can fly to an airport without a tower (uncontrolled airspace)? For example, I live just outside of 5 miles from a private airport (that is just really a place in his field that is level and he put up a windsock). So, to try to understand this better, I tried using planning mode in B4UFly and putting my location within a mile of that "airport." In B4UFly (and the sectional charts, I doublechecked), it is listed as Class G airspace, so I should be able to fly as long as I keep it under 400'. But B4UFly also says that "You are within 5 miles of an airport. By law, you must notify the airport operator and the air traffic control tower (if one is present) of your flight." When I check Airmap, it just says I should fly cautiously within 5 miles of an airport and give way to manned aircraft. So, yeah, I'm confused.

Can I fly in Class G airspace within 5 miles of an airport without a tower? And can you point me to the FAA documentation that says yes or no?
 

BigAl07

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Premium Pilot
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Oct 26, 2018
Messages
140
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48
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Western NC, USA
The "5 miles from an airport" statement no longer carries any weight. You fly according to the airspace you're IN not distance from a certain point.

This is "borrowed" from a member on another of our forums but it's spot-on information with links and references included.

"msinger wrote"
As of 5/17/19, here's a complete list of rules hobbyists must follow when flying outdoors in the US:
  • Register your drone with the FAA
  • Mark your registration number on the exterior of the drone (decals available here)
  • Fly a drone under 55 lbs
  • Fly only for hobby or recreation
  • Follow the safety guidelines of a nationwide community-based organization (CBO)
  • Keep your drone within your visual line of sight (VLOS) of the person operating the drone or within the visual line of sight of a visual observer (VO) who is near the operator and able to communicate verbally
  • Follow all FAA airspace restrictions, special security instructions, and temporary flight restrictions (TFRs)
  • Don’t fly over people
  • Don’t fly near other manned aircraft
  • Don’t fly near emergency response activities
  • Don’t fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Don’t fly above 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace (Class G)
  • Don’t fly in controlled airspace (Classes B, C, D, and E Surface) without FAA authorization

    Note: Following the rules above will both ensure you’re obeying US law and help you operate your drone safely. Keep in mind that the FAA has the authority to pursue enforcement action against people operating drones in a manner that they determine endangers the safety of the national airspace system (NAS). You could be liable if you harm other people and/or property even if you follow all of the rules above.

With the release of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 and new Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft notice released today, a few rules have been changed for hobbyists. Those changes include the following:
  1. Follow the safety guidelines of a nationwide community-based organization (CBO)

    The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 requires the FAA and community-based aeromodelling organizations (CBOs) to coordinate the development of safety guidelines for recreational small unmanned aircraft operations. As of today, no recognized CBOs or coordinated safety guidelines exist. Until the FAA establishes the criteria and process and begins recognizing CBOs, they are allowing pilots to do one of the following:
    1. Operate in accordance with existing safety guidelines of an aeromodelling organization (like the AMA) as long as those guidelines do not conflict with existing FAA rules.

    2. Follow the FAA’s existing safety guidelines – which are based on industry best practices.

      Note: When following the rules of a CBO (or aeromodelling organization), you should be able to explain to an FAA inspector or law enforcement official which safety guidelines you are following.
  2. Keep your drone within your visual line of sight (VLOS) of the person operating the drone or visual observer (VO)

    Previously, the FAA required the operator to maintain VLOS. As of today, the FAA also allows a (VO to maintain VLOS. The VO must be near the operator and be able to communicate verbally without the assistance of an electronic device. Using a VO generally is optional, but a VO is required if the operator is wearing FPV glasses/goggles that make it impossible to maintain VLOS.


  3. Don’t fly above 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace (Class G)

    Class G airspace is uncontrolled airspace in which the FAA does not provide air traffic services. You may operate your drone in this airspace up to an altitude of 400 feet above ground level (AGL).


  4. Don’t fly in controlled airspace (Classes B, C, D, and E Surface) without FAA authorization

    Classes B, C, D, and E Surface are controlled airspace. The FAA has created different classes of airspace to reflect whether aircraft receive air traffic control services and to note levels of complexity, traffic density, equipment, and operating requirements that exist for aircraft flying through different parts of controlled airspace. These airspace classes are usually found near airports.

    Before flying in controlled airspace, you must request authorization through the FAA’s online LAANC system using an app like AirMap or one of the other apps listed here. Since the LAANC system is currently only available for commercial pilots, the FAA is only allowing hobbyists to fly in Class G airspace or authorized fixed sites located within controlled airspace. The FAA will provide notice when LAANC is available for hobbyists.

    Note: A current list of authorized fixed sites can be found in this spreadsheet or on the FAA UAS Data map (represented as blue dots). When flying at a fixed site in controlled airspace, you must adhere to the operating limitations of the fixes site’s agreement. See the fixed site’s sponsor for more details.
 

repete7

Member
Join
Jun 12, 2019
Messages
5
The "5 miles from an airport" statement no longer carries any weight. You fly according to the airspace you're IN not distance from a certain point.

This is "borrowed" from a member on another of our forums but it's spot-on information with links and references included.

"msinger wrote"
As of 5/17/19, here's a complete list of rules hobbyists must follow when flying outdoors in the US:
  • Register your drone with the FAA
  • Mark your registration number on the exterior of the drone (decals available here)
  • Fly a drone under 55 lbs
  • Fly only for hobby or recreation
  • Follow the safety guidelines of a nationwide community-based organization (CBO)
  • Keep your drone within your visual line of sight (VLOS) of the person operating the drone or within the visual line of sight of a visual observer (VO) who is near the operator and able to communicate verbally
  • Follow all FAA airspace restrictions, special security instructions, and temporary flight restrictions (TFRs)
  • Don’t fly over people
  • Don’t fly near other manned aircraft
  • Don’t fly near emergency response activities
  • Don’t fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Don’t fly above 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace (Class G)
  • Don’t fly in controlled airspace (Classes B, C, D, and E Surface) without FAA authorization

    Note: Following the rules above will both ensure you’re obeying US law and help you operate your drone safely. Keep in mind that the FAA has the authority to pursue enforcement action against people operating drones in a manner that they determine endangers the safety of the national airspace system (NAS). You could be liable if you harm other people and/or property even if you follow all of the rules above.

With the release of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 and new Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft notice released today, a few rules have been changed for hobbyists. Those changes include the following:
  1. Follow the safety guidelines of a nationwide community-based organization (CBO)

    The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 requires the FAA and community-based aeromodelling organizations (CBOs) to coordinate the development of safety guidelines for recreational small unmanned aircraft operations. As of today, no recognized CBOs or coordinated safety guidelines exist. Until the FAA establishes the criteria and process and begins recognizing CBOs, they are allowing pilots to do one of the following:
    1. Operate in accordance with existing safety guidelines of an aeromodelling organization (like the AMA) as long as those guidelines do not conflict with existing FAA rules.

    2. Follow the FAA’s existing safety guidelines – which are based on industry best practices.

      Note: When following the rules of a CBO (or aeromodelling organization), you should be able to explain to an FAA inspector or law enforcement official which safety guidelines you are following.
  2. Keep your drone within your visual line of sight (VLOS) of the person operating the drone or visual observer (VO)

    Previously, the FAA required the operator to maintain VLOS. As of today, the FAA also allows a (VO to maintain VLOS. The VO must be near the operator and be able to communicate verbally without the assistance of an electronic device. Using a VO generally is optional, but a VO is required if the operator is wearing FPV glasses/goggles that make it impossible to maintain VLOS.


  3. Don’t fly above 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace (Class G)

    Class G airspace is uncontrolled airspace in which the FAA does not provide air traffic services. You may operate your drone in this airspace up to an altitude of 400 feet above ground level (AGL).


  4. Don’t fly in controlled airspace (Classes B, C, D, and E Surface) without FAA authorization

    Classes B, C, D, and E Surface are controlled airspace. The FAA has created different classes of airspace to reflect whether aircraft receive air traffic control services and to note levels of complexity, traffic density, equipment, and operating requirements that exist for aircraft flying through different parts of controlled airspace. These airspace classes are usually found near airports.

    Before flying in controlled airspace, you must request authorization through the FAA’s online LAANC system using an app like AirMap or one of the other apps listed here. Since the LAANC system is currently only available for commercial pilots, the FAA is only allowing hobbyists to fly in Class G airspace or authorized fixed sites located within controlled airspace. The FAA will provide notice when LAANC is available for hobbyists.

    Note: A current list of authorized fixed sites can be found in this spreadsheet or on the FAA UAS Data map (represented as blue dots). When flying at a fixed site in controlled airspace, you must adhere to the operating limitations of the fixes site’s agreement. See the fixed site’s sponsor for more details.
Thanks so much. That clears it up for me.
 
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SoccerRef12

Member
Join
Jul 5, 2019
Messages
5
Age
67
I'm a newbie, but I live on a ranch that is near a small city airport which I've tried calling to get permission to fly, but no one ever answers the phone. I was using the follow me function walking to the front gate and I hit a geofence for the airport that wouldn't let me walk any further without the licence code. Is this the "new" method for flying near controlled airspace?
 

BigAl07

Administrator
Staff member
Premium Pilot
Join
Oct 26, 2018
Messages
140
Age
48
Loc
Western NC, USA
I'm a newbie, but I live on a ranch that is near a small city airport which I've tried calling to get permission to fly, but no one ever answers the phone. I was using the follow me function walking to the front gate and I hit a geofence for the airport that wouldn't let me walk any further without the licence code. Is this the "new" method for flying near controlled airspace?
This is simply a guess but I'd say YES.
 

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