Airspace Basics And Helpful Apps
Moving on from here, I think the question is, something that you learn when you're studying for the 107, and also something that you just need to know, even as a hobbyist, is where can I fly? Now we talked a little bit about airspace, class G is fair game, you know, that's unregulated airspace, and then up to 400 feet, you're good to go. The other airspace to look out for is class E. I mean, you should know about all the different kinds of airspace, class A is actually 18,000 feet on up, so we don't really have to worry much with that as drone operators, that's 18,000 feet up to flight level 600, which is 60,000 feet. Class B, C, and D is, it's specified that the heights are specified in the actual aviation sectionals, which is gonna be overkill for us hobbyists to necessarily understand, I mean that's debatable, I mean it's, knowledge is power, I mean it's good to know how to read aviation sectionals, but they're a little tedious, and I'm gonna show you an app. This is actually a scre...
engrab from Airmap, which is a really handy app for knowing if you're in the clear for flying. And then class E is one that you'll see a lot where it, it'll start at 700 feet, and then there'll be this transition area up to 1200 feet. So oftentimes it doesn't come into play for us, because again, we're not going above 400 feet. So let me just show you, I think what we're gonna do is hop on over to my laptop feed. Hey, there we go, technology. So this right here, is an aviation sectional. This is right over San Francisco. And I'll pop on over to the map, so you can see kinda what we're up against here. So in San Francisco, we have a, and then, oh sorry, this is iFlightPlanner.com, and I use this quite a lot, so iFlightPlanner.com, it just shows you pretty much traditional flight sectionals. If you click on sectional then, it then shows all these, like radiating kind of rings. People talk about class B airspace as being like an upside down wedding cake. You know, in the center, right over the airport, you have airspace that's regulated class B airspace that goes all the way down to the airport. And you can't fly in regulated airspace without ATC clearance, and so typically within those five, well not typically, always within those five miles, you can see here, I don't know if you see my little pointer, where I'm pointing right there. It says 100, oh sorry, that's 10,000 feet, yep, you add two zeros to that number there, 10,000 feet down to the surface is where that class B, class B is the blue, solid blue. And then this next level, this next level of the upside down wedding cake is from 4,000 feet to 10,000 feet. So now if you're within that 4,000 feet to 10,000 feet, then that's way above us, that's charted actually in MSL, a Mean Sea Level, it's not ground level, though around San Francisco it's almost one and the same. But say like, if you're in, say Denver, where baseline ground level is around 5,000 feet, then you have to kinda figure out, kinda what that actually is based on what the airspace is, 'cause the airspace numbers will tell you Mean Sea Level numbers. As you can see, sectionals man, they're, I mean, there's gotta be a better way, right, I mean that's just a mess of information, but it's good to know, I mean it's good to have all this information, it's good to learn how to read it, as commercial operators you'll learn how to read it. That's in your Nelson Guide, does a good job of giving you some resources, and there's a ton of good YouTube videos that you can kind of like, you know, there's some old aviation instructional things that you can watch, that pilots have been watching for years on airspace. But even though I read, I can read a lot of this, and actually a lot of times in sectionals, if you get even like the, you can get them just print, you know, actual paper sectionals, but they'll even have like little legends. So off to the left here you can see where it's, even for experienced pilots, it's saying, hey guys, remember class B is in this blue, the floor is giving example of 70 over 30, cause 70 is the ceiling in hundreds of feet, 30 is the floor in hundreds of feet. So yeah, even with all that, there's a lot of handy you know, bits to the map that kinda help refresh your memory on how to read it properly. So what I'm now a huge fan of are these guys over at Airmap. One of the troubles that I was having when I was trying to find, like a client would say, "Hey are we good to inspect this tower?" at such and such address, is just being able to type in an address really quick, and then immediately, like, pull an overlay of your airspace and so like right here, you can see it right up here in the address bar, this is airmap.io, you can quickly pull in an address, I just typed in San Francisco. And then on the right, you can look at controlled airspace. And I'll zoom out, let's do that. And then you can just start getting a sense for, okay, that's class B that blue circle, class C, class D, class E. And it's only showing you the airspace that applies to small UAS operators. So even though there is class B airspace above where we are where that highlighted mark is, it's not one that we would fly, 'cause we're not flying above 400 feet, so we don't have to worry about that so much. The other thing to consider when you're wondering where you can fly, is not just airspace, but is sort of ground space. There, and actually I'll zoom back out, just so we can see, if we go down the list, the caution aspect, where it says temporary flight restrictions, there are a couple that you can see highlighted, just a couple weeks ago there was a big airspace over San Francisco for the airshow, but yeah, temporary, wildfires. The big one is national parks and NOAA, like marine protection areas, so around, when we were actually scouting for locations, and we'll get into scouting later, but when we were scouting for locations, we had to really keep this in mind, because all along the coast, there are these no overfly zones, so, let's see, I'm trying to remember how that one gets pulled up, see there's the national park, so that shows you. And as you may know that you can't fly drones without a permit in national parks, and good luck getting a permit. You know, it can be done I think, but, it has to line up not just with whether or not they're willing to give the permit, but whether or not they're willing to give the permit has to do a lot of the times with, like endangered animals, there's a certain kind of bird, I can't remember the kind, but out here on the West Coast, that even though the state parks said that drones are allowed in state parks, it says unless, you know, there's any endangered species that we're trying to watch out for, or posted orders, that sort of thing, and we did all sorts of emailing back and forth, and didn't get too far with state parks honestly. So it's a thing, like scouting, a lot of part of scouting is just trying to get your permits, and that will determine sometimes where you decide to shoot. So Airmap, for us mere mortals. (laughs) I don't know, sectionals, you'll learn how to read 'em, if you do your 107, which most of you in here probably will, but Airmap, even still, is, I use both of them, but Airmap's really nice, especially if you have to give like a screengrab to a client and say, "Okay, we can't fly here because of this," you can quickly take a screengrab and just email it to 'em, whereas before, like I was, like getting a sectional, and I was like using Photoshop to put a layer over, and so Airmap just makes that easy.