Monthly Archives: December 2017

Thoughts on ATC privatization

I purchased a DJI Phantom 4 drone this summer with the intent to use it commercially.  Out of the box the drone is easy to use but one thing has become frustrating; the near constant denials or restrictions on where I can fly.  Recently I was on a vacation at the Outer Banks, NC staying near the Wright Brothers memorial.  This entire area, including the beach and the house where I was staying was off limits to drones.  Apparently not to airplanes buzzing down the beach, but off limits to drones.  The DJI app on my phantom controller (viewed through my iPhone) pops up a message that states “you cannot take off” and that’s basically it; I’m toast – no flying here.  My son and his fiancé were going down to Jockey’s Ridge to take a hang gliding lesson. Hang gliding at Jockey’s Ridge is a popular attraction at the Outer Bank due to the history of the first powered flight.  Jockey’s Ridge is a state park and it is not on the DJI restricted flight areas site.  However, when I turned on the drone I got a message that I had to acknowledge that stated I was flying in an “enhanced warning zone”.  This zone apparently runs from Virginia Beach down south of where I was at Jockey’s Ridge.  That’s a diameter of over 60NM!  That is as big as the Washington D.C SFRA!  But I could unlock this code and fly the drone although there was some type of error with the DJI app that required a frustrating amount of work around.  That’s another story that involved some bad language. All of this drama with the drone restricted flight areas made me think about the current efforts to privatize the Air Traffic Control system for airplanes which goes hand in hand with the discussion of user fees.  I believe that if you want to see the future of the National Airspace System and user fees then take a look at the DJI Fly Safe map.  If you cannot fly drones in these areas then why should airplanes fly in these areas?  And if they do, why shouldn’t they pay.  You think this is crazy but I’m betting somewhere someone with the power (and need) to create fees, taxes, whatever is thinking exactly this thought.  Just putting my 2 cents out there…..

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AOPA Rusty Pilot at IA24

I occasionally present AOPA Rusty Pilot seminars at various locations around the country.  I had a great group of 32 at the Green Castle Airport (IA24), IA on 16 December 2017.  Don Nelson is the 90 year old patriarch of the airfield and the Green Castle Aero Club.  Don and his wife built the small airport on their property and then started the Aero Club in 1993.  The goal was (and is) to keep flying safe, fun, and affordable.  Don is 90 years old, spry and sharp witted.  It was great to have spent a little time with this group of grass roots pilots and aviation enthusiasts.  If you would like to brush up on your knowledge of regulations, weather, the new “Basic Med”

program and other subjects you should consider attending a Rusty Pilot seminar.  These are free to AOPA members (which I highly recommend) and not just for “Rusty Pilots” but for any general aviation pilot and also could be useful for those folks flying drones these days.  If you happen to live near the New Garden Airport (south of Cedar Rapids, IA) you might want to check out the Aero Club.  The Green Castle has a C150, C-172, Piper Arrow, an Ercoupe, and an Aeronca Chief.