Contacting airports about flying

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Hey all,

So I'm a creative designer in a rural town of about 16000 people, and I've been approached by a few different departments of the city to do some aerial photography of a few upcoming events. I have not completed the Section 107 certification (it's on my list), so I may just do it for free until I take the exam just to pad my portfolio.

So there is a small airport within 5 miles of where they would like me to fly (Perry-Houston County Airport) and I was wondering if anyone has had any experiences doing the whole 'contact air traffic control and get permission' thing that the FAA requires. Do you just call them up and ask them? Get written permission? And if so, does that raise any flags and put you under a magnifying glass from the FAA if you do get that permission? Just curious, I'm a rule follower and the last thing I want to do is get myself into trouble.

-Patrick
 

BigAl07

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As a hobbyist (which this does NOT fall under) you would simply contact and NOTIFY the airport. I always wanted to have something "tangible" so I would try to FAX but that's not always possible.

Keep in mind they CAN refuse to allow you to fly if it causes any type of "Safety Issue" for air travel but they can not "Allow" you to fly. They will most likely confirm you notified them and thank you unless it indeed causes a safety issue.

Do note that merely doing it for FREE does not relieve the burden on you for operating as a Commercial Operation.
 
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I Contact airports on almost every flight I do. It's no big deal. The only time they have even asked any information about me was when I had to get permission from a Navy Radar room.


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As a hobbyist (which this does NOT fall under) you would simply contact and NOTIFY the airport. I always wanted to have something "tangible" so I would try to FAX but that's not always possible.

Keep in mind they CAN refuse to allow you to fly if it causes any type of "Safety Issue" for air travel but they can not "Allow" you to fly. They will most likely confirm you notified them and thank you unless it indeed causes a safety issue.

Do note that merely doing it for FREE does not relieve the burden on you for operating as a Commercial Operation.
Double down on what BigAl said. As long as anyone benefits from the flight (Such as those city departments you referenced, or you just building a portfolio), then it is commercial and requires a Part 107 cert! Once you get your Part 107, you wouldn't even have to contact the airport unless it has controlled airspace around it (Class B, C, D, E).
 
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Biggest issue I have had is finding the right person to inform. Most of the flying I do isn't near an "airport" per se, but is near a helipad (typically operated by a hospital) which counts as an airport according to everything I have read. Most often, I have ended up with the security department who really have no idea about it. When I have talked to people in the know, they have been very polite and simply let me know that they will call me if any ops might come my way. That all said, I am curious how far we have to go in terms of contacting the operator. Is telling the hospital phone operator considered 'contacting the operator'? As most of the hospitals really don't "operate" their helipads (someone remote coordinate them) I am curious how far we have to go to meet the rule. Thoughts?
 

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It's up to you to find the correct entity to notify. I wouldn't think the hospital phone operator would suffice.

Locally our Air Ambulance service is operated and dispatched from a hospital in another county. I went there one day and spoke with one of the coordinators and together we came up with a system of notification for any "Commercial UAS" operations in our region. I call the # they gave me, explain who I am, where I'm located, what my intentions are (max height, distance from my starting point, estimated flight time etc) and I give them my contact # to call should they get dispatched in my vicinity.I also call once I'm done for the current mission.

It's worked splendidly now for a couple of years I guess. On 3 different occasions they called to let me know MAMA (Mountain Area Medical Airlift) was either passing over my location or landing at the pad close to me.

Even though the above is set up for Commercial Operations if you fly close to a helipad you may want to suggest a similar line of communication with them.
 
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...So there is a small airport within 5 miles of where they would like me to fly (Perry-Houston County Airport)...

Looks like that airport is uncontrolled (tower is not manned).
So no one to call. You'd be in class G airspace below 400ft.
The bigger concern is how close to Robins AFB, and their airspace.
 
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What if you're trying to contact an air force base? Their ATC phone number is not publicly listed. So I called the base operator, he tried to patch me through to the control tower, but I just got an answering machine. Since the answering machine was full, it tried to forward me to an attendant, who never answered and the automated system hung up on me lol...
 

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