Flying over Grand Canyon

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I wish people wouldn't engage in this lawbreaking nonsense. It's ultimately just an ego trip that will eventually result in incidents and further restrictions that the rest of the drone world ends up paying for. The images of are of no commercial use, and if you go around posting them as a way of nose-thumbing the regulators, you will possibly come to enforcerment attention and get sanctioned and then you can whine about how unjust the world is. Well, eff that, I'm not interested in further regulations so that you can compensate for your insecurity.

Airspace regulations exist for reasons, which may sometimes be unreasonable, but they are not arbitrary. There are lawful means to challenge them and modify them and obtain exceptions. In the case of some national parks and other reserves, and Grand Canyon is a great example, there are permitted uses by sightseeing aircraft that entail FAA airspace restrictions beyond the norm of other national parks. These need to be respected as long as they stand.

And further, I wonder why forum administrators allow these kinds of discussions -- they are just a means of furthering the ego gratification of people who are doing a disservice to the community. And don't give me any free-speech nonsense. The 1st amendment doesn't apply to private platforms such as this -- they are free to delete and censor any way they like.
 
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... Contriving? I call it planning, and research...

What you call it doesn't matter. If it is unlawful that's what a judge what call it. If it is unlawful then you would be subject to the penalties.

Nobody will ever know...

Criminal acts are sometimes perpetrated by people who don't see any way or think they will be caught and this has cost people a lot of money in fines, attorney fees and the jails are full of such people. "What could go wrong?" Famous last words.

It also costs society money to prosecute. I do not think law abiding citizens should be forced to pay to prosecute you should you violate the law flying your drone because it is unfair to them but I would donate to the cause. If you aren't violating any laws then I would donate to your defense fund if wrongfully prosecuted.
 
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If you want to film something that looks as majestic as the Grand Canyon itself and in some ways better (less haze) go to Dead Horse Point state park in Utah—on the same Colorado river that carved the Grand Canyon downstream. The park is open to drone flying in the winter. This was the place used to film Thelma and Louise going off a cliff into the Grand Canyon.

I was there in late 2015 with a P3P. I had never heard of the place till the day before. I didn’t get all the scenic shots I wanted as I got involved helping the park director and local sheriff look for a missing man. A deputy found him 600 feet down one of the cliffs—first park casualty in 16 years or something.
 
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View attachment 116009


The line you draw there, the one that goes just east of the Horseshoe Bend POI, will go over a large amount of people. See the satalitte view again, identify the parking area. see the trail from parking to the viewpoint. This would probably get you some visits from officers in marked cars.

At the very least, your above flight path should go WEST of the viewpoint so that it doesn't need to fly over the path full of people. But more than just the authorities, people photographing the bend from the viewpoint would not be happy that you placed a drone in their shot.

The best behavior for you would be to a) decide on a time of day so the sun can be where you want it; b) decide on an angle you want to shoot it from (the north or south); c) taking both 'a' and 'b' into consideration, fly to the point and take your shots/ video, then retreat the way you came. That way, you wouldn't fly over people, nor get in their own shots.

Personally, I simply chose not to fly in such crowded areas at all.

By the way, a lot of the land just out side of a lot of state parks are themselves worth of photography. Fly parts of the canyon / Colorado river that's just outside the NP itself.

Chris
 
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In addition to permanent flight restrictions, you also need to check for temporary flight restrictions (TFRs). There is an excellent weather app called MyRadar (Android and iOS) that provides TFR overlays on the map. Clicking on one will show you the altitudes, its purpose, and the duration of the restriction.

As for the area you would like to fly into, I think you could create a Litchi mission to handle this especially now that Litchi allows you to select the waypoint you wish to start from. I'm thinking you'd set the "Finish Action" to "Back to 1" which is a point that is in LOS. I'm not sure how RTH would be handled though. I created a mission a couple of years to fly into a excavation pit that was a maximum of 250 feet below street level. It worked perfectly.
 
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I wish people wouldn't engage in this lawbreaking nonsense. It's ultimately just an ego trip that will eventually result in incidents and further restrictions that the rest of the drone world ends up paying for. The images of are of no commercial use, and if you go around posting them as a way of nose-thumbing the regulators, you will possibly come to enforcerment attention and get sanctioned and then you can whine about how unjust the world is. Well, eff that, I'm not interested in further regulations so that you can compensate for your insecurity.

Airspace regulations exist for reasons, which may sometimes be unreasonable, but they are not arbitrary. There are lawful means to challenge them and modify them and obtain exceptions. In the case of some national parks and other reserves, and Grand Canyon is a great example, there are permitted uses by sightseeing aircraft that entail FAA airspace restrictions beyond the norm of other national parks. These need to be respected as long as they stand.

And further, I wonder why forum administrators allow these kinds of discussions -- they are just a means of furthering the ego gratification of people who are doing a disservice to the community. And don't give me any free-speech nonsense. The 1st amendment doesn't apply to private platforms such as this -- they are free to delete and censor any way they like.

It is solely your opinion that people who post comments that cross over the line do so in a need to feed their ego. I'm sure we all know the adage about opinions. But put nicely, opinions are only truly meaningful to the person expressing them. If you have NEVER broken a single law in your life then you can stop reading now. But since that can't possibly be true...

Yes, airspace regulations exist for a reason--so do speed limits. Sometimes speed limits may be unreasonable, but they, too, are not arbitrary. Before you scoff, consider the number of fatalities that occur on the ground versus in the air. If everyone obeyed speed limits then perhaps our insurance rates wouldn't be so high and perhaps we wouldn't need so many driving regulations. I can only hope that your indignation over "this lawbreaking nonsense" applies to other areas in life as well.

As a former military air traffic controller, I am intimately familiar with the concerns that drones pose. I make regular use of apps like FlightRadar, FlightAware, LiveATC, and B4UFLY and I know every approach and departure route in and out of Las Vegas. However, I am also acutely aware that the information the first three apps provide is NOT real-time. Additionally, they do not cover all aircraft. Information on some flights is withheld from the public and those aircraft that do not file a flight plan will not show up at all. Helicopters are a prime example. Some do and some don't.

I am physically unable to hike up mountains and over difficult terrain in order to launch my drone from a perfect spot. Does this mean I should deprive myself of the enjoyment I receive from taking video of an area that I in no way could otherwise reach? For me the answer is no. Yes, that means I'm going to break the strict letter of the law. But I am meticulous in my preparation and my computer background tells me to never place my complete trust in any form of technology. In short, my ego is not the issue. Yes, I am only speaking about my situation but your post seeks to denigrate all who push the boundaries without regard to any individual's situation. You do not have that right.

Everyone one of us has broken the law. There are no exceptions. It is only a matter of which laws we decide to break and to what degree we decide to break them. The phrase "law abiding citizen" is an amorphous and abstract concept that is generally intended to be self-serving in its use.

This forum is global in its reach and there are often nuggets of useful information even in the posts we do not agree with. It is your right to object to comments that offend your sensibilities just as it is your right to ignore them and move on.
 

sar104

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It is solely your opinion that people who post comments that cross over the line do so in a need to feed their ego. I'm sure we all know the adage about opinions. But put nicely, opinions are only truly meaningful to the person expressing them. If you have NEVER broken a single law in your life then you can stop reading now. But since that can't possibly be true...

Yes, airspace regulations exist for a reason--so do speed limits. Sometimes speed limits may be unreasonable, but they, too, are not arbitrary. Before you scoff, consider the number of fatalities that occur on the ground versus in the air. If everyone obeyed speed limits then perhaps our insurance rates wouldn't be so high and perhaps we wouldn't need so many driving regulations. I can only hope that your indignation over "this lawbreaking nonsense" applies to other areas in life as well.

As a former military air traffic controller, I am intimately familiar with the concerns that drones pose. I make regular use of apps like FlightRadar, FlightAware, LiveATC, and B4UFLY and I know every approach and departure route in and out of Las Vegas. However, I am also acutely aware that the information the first three apps provide is NOT real-time. Additionally, they do not cover all aircraft. Information on some flights is withheld from the public and those aircraft that do not file a flight plan will not show up at all. Helicopters are a prime example. Some do and some don't.

I am physically unable to hike up mountains and over difficult terrain in order to launch my drone from a perfect spot. Does this mean I should deprive myself of the enjoyment I receive from taking video of an area that I in no way could otherwise reach? For me the answer is no. Yes, that means I'm going to break the strict letter of the law. But I am meticulous in my preparation and my computer background tells me to never place my complete trust in any form of technology. In short, my ego is not the issue. Yes, I am only speaking about my situation but your post seeks to denigrate all who push the boundaries without regard to any individual's situation. You do not have that right.

Everyone one of us has broken the law. There are no exceptions. It is only a matter of which laws we decide to break and to what degree we decide to break them. The phrase "law abiding citizen" is an amorphous and abstract concept that is generally intended to be self-serving in its use.

This forum is global in its reach and there are often nuggets of useful information even in the posts we do not agree with. It is your right to object to comments that offend your sensibilities just as it is your right to ignore them and move on.

So when you do that, and you break what you call the "strict letter of the law", do you think that you are following the spirit or intent of the law?
 
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I wish these conversations were banned from the site. Ya, I said it. you want free speech, take it outside. I don't want it spreading the ignorance.
 
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I wish these conversations were banned from the site. Ya, I said it. you want free speech, take it outside. I don't want it spreading the ignorance.

I said nothing about free speech and no one is advocating breaking the rules. Perhaps your screen is malfunctioning.
 
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So when you do that, and you break what you call the "strict letter of the law", do you think that you are following the spirit or intent of the law?

I knew this question would come up and I admit the answer is a difficult one. But you're asking for my opinion on which I am to be judged and I can only say that I try to stick as closely to the law as possible. I don't revel in breaking the rules. That is not my intent. I'm not a thrill seeker. My first priority is safety. I couldn't live with myself if I hurt someone. When I was stationed in Japan nearly 40 years ago, I recall an instance where an RC airplane struck a woman and killed her. I can't imagine how that pilot must have felt. 95% of my flights are out over the desert or over foothills and ridge lines that are out of reach for the vast majority of hikers. I've had my drone up to 1300' but it was only 160' over the terrain I was flying above. That's legal. I don't do night flights and I have no desire to fly over neighborhoods. (I have flown around my 4 block area a couple of times)

In my opinion, the spirit and the intent of the law is safety above all else. If drones were inherently safe, or if everyone acted in a responsible fashion, or if we all lived in a rural area, then there would be little to no need for this discussion.
 

sar104

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I knew this question would come up and I admit the answer is a difficult one. But you're asking for my opinion on which I am to be judged and I can only say that I try to stick as closely to the law as possible. I don't revel in breaking the rules. That is not my intent. I'm not a thrill seeker. My first priority is safety. I couldn't live with myself if I hurt someone. When I was stationed in Japan nearly 40 years ago, I recall an instance where an RC airplane struck a woman and killed her. I can't imagine how that pilot must have felt. 95% of my flights are out over the desert or over foothills and ridge lines that are out of reach for the vast majority of hikers. I've had my drone up to 1300' but it was only 160' over the terrain I was flying above. That's legal. I don't do night flights and I have no desire to fly over neighborhoods. (I have flown around my 4 block area a couple of times)

In my opinion, the spirit and the intent of the law is safety above all else. If drones were inherently safe, or if everyone acted in a responsible fashion, or if we all lived in a rural area, then there would be little to no need for this discussion.

Fair enough, but you know where I was going with that. VLOS is required for good reason - pilot situational awareness around the aircraft so as to be able to take action if other air traffic appears. I only fly BVLOS when I have a TFR to ensure safety. I'm really wondering how you satisfy yourself that your drone won't conflict with other traffic. Remote locations with little or no other traffic?
 
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Fair enough, but you know where I was going with that. VLOS is required for good reason - pilot situational awareness around the aircraft so as to be able to take action if other air traffic appears. I only fly BVLOS when I have a TFR to ensure safety. I'm really wondering how you satisfy yourself that your drone won't conflict with other traffic. Remote locations with little or no other traffic?

Yes, I knew where you were going. How do I satisfy myself that I won't conflict with other traffic? As I stated earlier, I've studied all of the flight patterns in my area and that includes reviewing the approach and departure plates for McCarran airport. One thing Las Vegas has in its favor is its high amount of cloudless days. We can go weeks without a single overcast day and 10 statute mile visibility is pretty much the norm here. And aircraft have their minimum flight restrictions, too. Depending on type of airspace, they're not allowed to fly down to the deck. That said...

Even if you are flying in total compliance with the law, though, you cannot rule out the unexpected. Last year I was flying over the desert at the edge of town when a Cessna appeared out of nowhere over a ridge about a quarter of a mile away from me. His altitude was low enough to startle me and that's never happened before. I doubt that he was more 350' above the plateau and he looked to be maybe 1000' above my position, if that. I could have been flying over that same spot and still have had my drone in sight.

What I shoot for is flying at an altitude that I know no aircraft should be occupying. If I'm going to fly at or over 400' AGL, I'll be hugging a high ridge or foothill. I've only violated that once when I flew my drone up to 1000 feet. But even then I was in the middle of nowhere as far as air traffic is concerned. Airports have standard flight paths (even for helicopters that fly out to the Grand Canyon) that do not deviate except in the case of bad weather. And I'm not out flying on those days.

Last year I got into a discussion online with a helicopter tour pilot who told me one of his routes takes him over a spot where I had flown autonomously. I was flying through a narrow "canyon" on the backside of a ridge. I told him that at my altitude, 160' AGL, my drone would have been the least of his worries. Why? Because it was too low and too narrow for his aircraft to safely navigate. That's not an opinion, it's a fact.

I've included two attachments. You'll see one that mentions Creech AFB. It's of interest because that is where the Air Force performs UAV live bomb runs! Near the center of the Las Vegas sectional chart, you'll see a red diamond labeled "STADIUM". In that spot is an AMA airfield that drones are allowed to launch from. That's where I flew up to 1000'.

Inside the areas outlined in purple are UAS operating areas. The circles are valid from the surface to 400 feet AGL. The area inside the rectangular shape is valid from the surface to 1199 feet AGL. You can see this for yourself at SkyVector: Flight Planning / Aeronautical Charts. Search for an area and then click on the DROTAMs tab (drone version of Notice To Airmen) to view the areas legal for flying drones.

I cannot stress enough that I make every attempt to be as safe as possible.

LVSection1.PNG Creech.PNG
 
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It seems to me that most of this discussion wants to ignore the VLOS rule. A typical DJI drone becomes nearly impossible to see at over 2000’. That’s the real issue with having to fly from outside of the park boundaries.
 
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rfaaj

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Thanks for that reminder, I had forgot about the special flyover rules. You're correct. There's only one slim area that planes are allowed to fly over GCNP at 10,000'. So forget going 2mi north from the target parking lot. However the parking lot, and down into the Little Colorado River canyon, 1400' below looks acceptable and legal. I'm still researching to see if there's any other issues.

View attachment 116010

Horseshoe Bend, near Page AZ also looks like a good target, just outside the GCNP no fly zone, but only flyable from the highway, about a mile away from a good turn-out area. Launching that far way eliminates flying down into the canyon, only above it, up to about 300' away from the cliff. It seems like an epic flight area while I'm in the area, a few months from now.


View attachment 116005

View attachment 116006

Possible flight path, trying to stay away from being in front of the viewing cliff.

View attachment 116009
I applaud your efforts here to make sure you do this by-the-book. Well done sir.
 

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Yes this hasn't been posted in since Monday but just saw this.
And further, I wonder why forum administrators allow these kinds of discussions --
WHY is this..
15. The Community Owners strongly encourage users to obey all federal and local laws and regulations when flying. It is a helpful service to the community when members guide others in understanding and following the regulations. Meanwhile, fully understanding all international rules and regulations is complex and it is not the responsibility of the community owners, moderators or community members to police and enforce these rules and regulations. Any violation of another community rule, even if in the context of attempting to help enforce flying laws and regulations, is prohibited.
So that answers that.

Now this you are correct.
And don't give me any free-speech nonsense. The 1st amendment doesn't apply to private platforms such as this -- they are free to delete and censor any way they like.
From this in our guidelines All agreed to when they joined.
About the First Amendment and Your "Right to Free Speech"
We believe in the First Amendment of the US Constitution and public freedom of speech. Meanwhile, that right does not infer that others are required to publish your speech. The PhantomPilots Community is not a public resource; it is privately owned and we require members to abide by the rules and decisions of our team. If you post outside these guidelines your post may be edited or deleted - this does not violate your public right to free speech.
That being said before someone decides to start this back up it is now over.
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