Drone News & Drone Directory

UAV Coach

Charting New Heights For Drone Programs in Academia: Meet Lead Drone Educator, Scott Thompson

When trying anything new, the first attempt is rarely a success. The first time educators at Cochise College in Arizona tried to develop a UAS degree program, it didn’t turn out the way they hoped. In 2013, they launched an associate’s degree program to prepare students to safely and effectively operate UAS for commercial uses. Five years later, the program was discontinued due to a lack of interest from students and is no longer offered as of the 2018-2019 school year.

It was unclear why the program failed to garner interest until drone pilot and educator, Scott Thompson, pointed out that the collegiate program set the requirements too high compared to the requirements for certification outside academia.

Cochise JTED Drone Program

Unlike studying for the FAA Part 107 exam, which according to our students takes an average of 10-15 hours, the Cochise drone program involved the completion of a two-year associate’s program. So while the federal government only required about a month of preparation and administration to become certified, Cochise was asking for two years.

“That was a lot for somebody to do,” said Scott. “You’re talking 60 credits taking English, and math, and all the general education requirements on top of the core drone classes.”

The faculty at Cochise handed Scott the reigns and he ran with them, completely overhauling the existing program’s structure. His new program cut down on the time required to complete the program and reached a new group of students—high schoolers. With the restructured program, high school students can take four college-level courses to become certified drone pilots and gain experience flying drones in their own community.

Scott is a former Army unmanned aircraft operator and has trained many military and civilian students on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). He has over 16 years of experience in UAS operations and UAS education. Most recently, he’s been developing an academic drone program for Arizona high school students. We sat down with Scott to learn how he designed the program and to hear what he hopes to achieve by teaching high school students about UAS.

Begin Interview

The academic drone program you currently run was initially structured as an associates degree program. Why did you decide to change it to a certificate program for high school students?

They [the students] wanted to get out there and get into it. They want to get their certification, start working, and take advantage of the opportunities that are out there right now.

The associate program left a big gap in time efficiency. You had to enroll as a student at Cochise College, and then actually complete an entire two-year program to become a pilot.

What is the new program structure like?

It’s a 16-credit program that includes four four-credit courses.

The first course is an introductory course. In this course, the student learns the basics of what drones can do and how you can integrate them into certain industries. This foundational course creates an understanding of what drones are, how they serve the community, and how to apply them in different careers and industries.

The second course is a theory and application course. It prepares students to take the Part 107 exam. We also introduce some more advanced flight maneuvers. During practice flights, students engage in practical application of theory and flight maneuvers.

The third course teaches you how to use drones in videography and photography. Students learn the basics of setting up shots with the drone, what the best practices are, and then apply that knowledge by getting out and shooting actual photos and videos. By the time of the third course, the students will have their commercial license, so they can start to go out and actually do some work outside of the schools.

By the fourth class, our goal is to prepare them for an internship in the industry. We try to pair up these student pilots with an organization in the community or find a way for them to use their drones commercially to gain real world experience.

How did you come up with this structure? There aren’t many existing high school drone programs to replicate from.

Cochise College partnered with Arizona’s Department of Education, Career & Technical Education and our local Joint Technical Education District (JTED) to develop the original associate’s degree program. Together, they developed state standards for all Arizona sUAS programs. It’s pretty exciting, because Cochise Technology District is the only JTED to have developed and implement a standardized sUAS program so far.

[Editor’s Note: JTEDs are specialized school districts designed to deliver career and technical education (CTE) course offerings to secondary students in cooperation with school districts and charter schools in Arizona.]

So, I used the JTED standards and some of the existing structure from the associate’s program to develop the high school program. There was still a lot I had to do from scratch though, so then I used my existing experience and knowledge of unmanned aircraft instructional design and technology. I myself have been in the unmanned aircraft industry for a long time.

What experience did you have in the drone industry prior to teaching?

I was in Army as an unmanned aircraft operator for a couple years, then as a civilian I worked at Fort Huachuca, the UAS training center for military. They train the Hunter unmanned aircraft system, they train Gray Eagle, and they train Shadow unmanned aircraft systems. I trained both Hunter and Shadow unmanned aircraft systems to military and civilian students for quite a while.

After that, I went to Northrop Grumman where I worked as the test pilot on the Hunter system. Eventually I became their e-learning specialist, because I thought they had a gap in their e-learning capabilities. I got really involved in educational technology there and developed a mindset to offer remote possibilities for education. All of that experience carried over to what I’m doing now with Cochise College, JTED, and the local high schools.

What are the goals of the program?

My primary goal is to grow the program with the reputation for safety and competence. Right now we’re really only focusing on the high school students as a STEM program for three of the local high schools. My goal, personally, is to get them certified, make them competent at their job, and ensure that they’re safe, so they’re creating the reputation for the industry as a whole and for our local program that says we’re serious professionals.

As high school students, some just 16 years old, they can conduct a mission through your organization. That’s really empowering for our students. We want our students to get out there and do some work for the community that’s good.

Who is eligible to sign up for the program and take classes?

Right now we’re available to high school students at three schools: Buena, Benson, and Bisbee.

Since the UAS associate’s program has been discontinued at Cochise College, there is no program for college students at this time. It would be nice to offer college students and anybody in the community the opportunity to learn more about drones and expand their capabilities. So I’m pushing for that, but right now we’re just at the high school level.

Who teaches the classes?

There’s one lead teacher and multiple facilitators. As the lead teacher, I build the curriculum and send it out to the facilitators. The facilitators are high school teachers who are already embedded in and working in the schools. For example, at Buena High School, they have a photography and video teacher who also teaches our drone class. Then at Bisbee High School, we have a law enforcement teacher who also teaches the drone class. It’s a nice overlapping narrative of concepts and industries.

The facilitators are really necessary for the success of the program, because I can’t be at all these schools at the same time. I really lean on them to get the information out to the students and to manage the classroom well.

I meet with each class every Monday via video conferencing to give an overview of what we’re going to do that week. I also like to bring in some some current events to maintain their interest in the industry. Then the facilitators take it from there, completing the assigned lesson plans and activities with the students that week.

Bisbee High School Drone Program

Bisbee High School student pilots and their high school facilitator, Brian Cooley, pose with their drone equipment.

What has the response from students been like?

We’ve had a strong, positive response. At Buena we have 15 new students this semester. Then at Benson we have three returning students and 15 new students. We just added Bisbee High School, and we have a class of about 10 students there.

Some of our returning students will actually be getting their Part 107 certifications this semester, so that’s really exciting. The program is still new, so we haven’t had that chance to see what our students can do out there in the community, but the plans are there.

How do you apply for the program?

It’s what’s called a CTE program, a Career and Technical Education program sponsored by Cochise College. In a CTE program, the college will come to the high school and enroll students who are interested into the class. Cochise actually covers the cost of their credits, except for $20 per credit that the students have to put their skin in the game for. The fee helps Cochise provide each class with a drone, and the students can get a jump on college credits while still in high school.

Is there a benefit to exposing students to drone technology at a young age?

At 16 years old, they can make money as commercial operators. That’s the instant benefit to the program. There aren’t many industries that allow that kind of flexibility as a young person, as a student.

Another benefit is they’re being exposed to a technology that’s emerging. I kind of liken it to the smartphone. The smartphone became a prolific  tool for so many people, where they could do so many things with it. And I think that’s what drones are doing now, kind of in that same concept where they’re just offering so many services and their capabilities to different people and industries.

The next benefit is showing the student pilot how they can create solutions for their community. Locally, we have a huge agriculture industry. We have a lot of cattle ranchers and a lot of agriculture, so I frequently talk to them about drone applications in precision agriculture.

And most of all, here in a rural environment like ours, these students might not have access to this kind of UAS tech. So having access to the tech alone is a huge benefit that they might not otherwise have the opportunity for.

How will this program benefit your community at large?

I like to think about next semester or the end of the year when we’ll have approximately 40 to 45 students certified as remote pilots going out in the community and actually serving the community in different ways. To have that many certified remote pilots in one area is going to be really powerful. Through this program, our students have the potential to really grow the local drone industry and economy.

 

Scott Thompson is an alumnus of Drone Pilot Ground School.

If you’re interested in starting a drone program within your own work place, check out our Guide to Establishing a Professional Drone Program in Your Company. We’d also like to hear your thoughts on drone programs in academic settings, like the one we just learned about from Scott. Visit this thread on our community forum to tell us what you think.

The post Charting New Heights For Drone Programs in Academia: Meet Lead Drone Educator, Scott Thompson appeared first on UAV Coach.

Don’t Lose Your Drone — Meet the World’s Smartest and Most Popular 3G GPS Drone Tracking Device from Trackimo

I lost sight of [my drone]. If only I had attached a GPS tracking device to it so I would know where it is now.

ryanolivas, UAV Coach Forum Member

It may seem unlikely to happen to you, but according to GPS tracking company Trackimo, 30% of drone owners have lost their drone, never to be found. You can easily lose your drone due to loss of connection, piloting error, or while your drone is fighting the wind.

Thankfully, Trackimo has a smart solution—a tiny 3G GPS tracking device that ensures the recovery of your drone in the unfortunate event of a flyaway. The unique features of this tracking device make it a perfect fit for drone operators. It takes about three minutes to install, is lightweight, and is also universal, meaning that it’ll work on any of your sUAS models and can easily be swapped from system to system.

I would recommend Trackimo GPS tracker. I have attached it to my DJI P3, and it works perfect for me due to its good tracking accuracy.

A4Tech, UAV Coach Forum Member

Trackimo Track Your DJI Drone

How Trackimo Works

Trackimo uses GPS and GSM to provide real-time tracking of your drone via Web, iOS, or Android app. Simply attach your Trackimo to your drone and see its location information online or in the app. Voilà—now you can retrieve your drone’s location anywhere, secured, and in real time.

trackimo gps drone tracker

The Trackimo device is truly unique, because it’s built with patented technology and provides 3G coverage. Ceramic antennas, robust hardware, and advanced software enable the device to track with increased accuracy while using half the battery compared to other tracking devices.

It also has servers which utilize sophisticated algorithms, data communications and cellular network signaling to manage the device and dispatch information to systems and apps using minimal data bandwidth.

Plus, the 3G coverage enables you to keep track of your drone worldwide at unlimited distances. This is a steep advantage over other drone tracking systems with 2G or Bluetooth coverage that only work at limited distances and in select locations.

Trackimo Features Ensure Your Drone is Protected

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the specifications of Trackimo drone tracking and what additional alerts you can set up. Here are all the features of Trackimo:

  • Lightweight at only 1.4 ounces
  • Long battery life up to 96 hours
  • Battery life up to 1 month in battery save mode
  • Worldwide coverage with 3G GPS tracking
  • Real-time tracking
  • Universal drone attachment kit
  • Magnetic attachment
  • Archive of device path history up to 5 years
  • Share device location or live path with embed link
  • Silicon cover for water resistance
  • Speed alert – get alerts once device exceeds preset speed
  • Fence alert – get alerts once device leaving geo-fence you set
  • Move alert – get alerts once device starts moving
  • SOS alert once SOS button pressed + 2 more preset alerts buttons
  • App, email and/or SMS alerts on drone activity

Of course [I chose] the Trackimo since it has way better features.

ryanolivas, UAV Coach Forum Member

It Happened To Me: UAV Coach Readers Share Lost Drone Stories

Combing through our community forum posts over the last couple of years, it was interesting to see that a number of folks have experienced the dreaded flyaway/lost drone experience. We already shared a few of those comments above but want to highlight a few more in this section.

“Sad story. Too much wind and way too high. Drone flew away! Has this happened to you? What should one install to track drone?”
UAVB2BSERV, UAV Coach Forum Member

“I’ve read a lot of stories about hobbyists, particularly, who write about their drone adventures, and often end with, “…and then it flew away.” Never to be found again. Some of these are very expensive drones with pilots who like to push the limits beyond the radio range of their controllers. My neighbor just recently got a drone as a gift from his wife. His wife told me that on his first flight he was pushing the limits and went beyond them “…and then it flew away.”
Nick Stan, UAV Coach Forum Member

“I like the Trackimo. With velcro I can switch it from bird to bird. I crashed my P3P once and my phone led me right to it.”
Uaviator53, UAV Coach Forum Member

Flyaway Drones Occur More Often Than You Think

Not sure what might cause a drone to just…fly away? Here are the most common reasons according to Trackimo:

1) Fighting the WindTrackimo Drone Tracker with Velcro Attachment
2) Radio Interference
3) Faulty Firmware Upgrade
4) Loss of Connections
5) Piloting Error
6) Software Glitches
7) Loss of Line of Sight
8) Bad GPS Data

We encourage pilots to go over a pre-flight checklist to help prevent some of these factors from interfering with your flight, but that still won’t completely eliminate the chance of a flyaway drone. Lost connections can happen unexpectedly, and so can other types of flight interference.

Installing a small GPS tracker, like this one from Trackimo, will give you peace-of-mind and make sure you can always find your drone.

YouTube Video

With Trackimo, Peace of Mind Is Affordable

Trackimo is currently promoting $90 in savings, offering Trackimo to drone operators for just $199 (a $290 value). Common commercial drone models retail for hundreds and thousands of dollars, so an additional $199 can be money well spent for peace of mind. The offer gets even better with free shipping and a money-back guarantee.

What comes in the box:

  • 1 Trackimo GPS drone 3G tracking device
  • 1 Worldwide SIM Card loaded with $60
  • 1 Micro USB charging cable
  • 2 Battery doors, one of with a belt clip
  • 1 Rechargeable Battery
  • Silicone water resistant case
  • Magnetic attachment
  • Lanyard
  • Trackimo universal drone attachment kit

Trackimo also offers the lowest monthly service cost of any tracking device worldwide. Your initial order includes GSM Cellular internet service for the first year, which then continues for only $5 per month after the first 12 months.

Trackimo understands the value of a drone and wants to help you keep track of the things you care for most. Don’t let your investment fly away—protect your drone (and your money) with a 3G GPS tracking system from Trackimo. With Trackimo, you can have peace of mind and fully enjoy flying your drone without fear of a flyaway.

The post Don’t Lose Your Drone — Meet the World’s Smartest and Most Popular 3G GPS Drone Tracking Device from Trackimo appeared first on UAV Coach.

India Announces Rollout of First Commercial Drone Regulations

India just announced the rollout of their first ever regulations for commercial drone operations, which will go into effect December 1st.

india-new-drone-laws
Image source

The new rules lay out categories for different types of drone operations, and are scheduled to go into effect on December first. Up to this point India has had no drone regulations in place (on this note, we’ll be working to update our existing resource on India’s drone laws as the new regulations are implemented).

In an announcement shared two days ago, India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation explained that their new drone regulations should be viewed only as the first set of drone rules, and shared a few of the items they’d like to consider for a future 2.0 version. Some of the proposed inclusions for the next step include BVLOS operations and a certification process for drone hardware and software.

We want to establish a world-leading drone ecosystem in India. These regulations firmly place us among the global leaders.

– Shri Jayant Sinha, India’s Minister of State

India’s Digital Sky Platform

One of the most notable features of India’s rollout of their new drone regulations is that they plan to launch their own UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management system) simultaneous to the launch of the regulations.

India’s UTM is called the Digital Sky Platform, and it will be used to digitally register drones. All drone pilots (excluding those in the Nano category—categories are covered in the section below) will be required to register their drone with the Digital Sky Platform.

drone-laws-india-2018
Image source

Before every single flight, drone pilots will be required to request permission to fly via a mobile app, which will automatically process the request and grant or reject it—presumably using the same kind of information found in UAS Facility Maps, which enable automatic yes/no permissions for LAANC-based airspace authorizations here in the U.S.

India is calling their system “No Permission, No Takeoff” (NPNT). If a drone pilot tries to fly without receiving permission from the Digital Sky Platform, he or she will simply not be able to takeoff.

In a country as big as India, to launch a nation-wide platform like this simultaneous to rolling out the first drone regulations is certainly a bold step forward. We’ll be excited to see how the rollout goes, and to hear about how this new NPNT system works in India. If it’s a success, it could provide a model for other geographically large countries struggling to address similar issues related to regulations and permissions.

India’s New Drone Regulations

The new drone regulations follow many of the guidelines already established by civil aviation authorities, such as the FAA and others, around the world.

India’s airspace has been partitioned into three categories: Red Zone (flying not permitted); Yellow Zone (controlled airspace); and Green Zone (automatic permission to fly).

Also worth noting is that the new regulations have specific requirements regarding the types of features a drone must have to be flown in India (excluding those in the Nano category). These mandatory requirements include: GPS; Return-to-home (RTH); Anti-collision light; ID plate; A flight controller with flight data logging capability; RF ID and SIM/No Permission No Takeoff (NPNT).

Other commercial drone regulations that will take effect on December 1 include the following:

  • All drones except those in the Nano category must be registered and issued a Unique Identification Number (UIN).
  • A permit is required for commercial drone operations (except for those in the Nano category flown below 50 feet and those in the Micro category flown below 200 feet).
  • Drone pilots must maintain a direct visual line of sight at all times while flying.
  • Drones cannot be flown more than 400 feet vertically.
  • Drones cannot be flown in areas specified as “No Fly Zones”, which include areas near airports, international borders, strategic locations, and military installations.
  • Permission to fly in controlled airspace can be obtained by filing a flight plan and obtaining a unique Air Defense Clearance (ADC) / Flight Information Center (FIC) number.

India’s Five New Drone Categories

Registration is required for all but the Nano category.

1) Nano: Less than or equal to 250 grams (.55 pounds)
2) Micro: From 250 grams (.55 pounds) to 2kg (4.4 pounds)
3) Small: From 2kg (4.4 pounds) to 25kg (55 pounds)
4) Medium: From 25kg (55 pounds) to 150kg (330 pounds)
5) Large: Greater than 150kg (33 pounds)

Systems like India’s proposed Digital Sky Platform help pave the way forward to create the infrastructure needed to ensure the growth of the drone industry.

To see another country join the ranks of those with robust drone regulations is yet one more indication of the progress we’re making. We’re looking forward to seeing how things go in December, and beyond.

The post India Announces Rollout of First Commercial Drone Regulations appeared first on UAV Coach.

Highlights from DJI’s “See the Bigger Picture” Event | Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom Release Recap

Yesterday, DJI launched the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom during a special live event, “See the Bigger Picture,” in Brooklyn, New York. The event garnered over 1 million virtual viewers via live stream across multiple platforms including Facebook, YouTube, and the DJI website.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend or view the hour-long event, don’t worry. We recap everything that went down during “See the Bigger Picture,” including a few surprise announcements. Read on for the event highlights, or scroll to the bottom of this post to watch a recording of the live stream.

Michael Oldenburg speaking at See the Bigger Picture

DJI Highlights How Mavic Pro Save Lives

Michael Oldenburg, Product Communication Lead at DJI was the event spokesperson, and delivered the exciting details millions of drone enthusiasts have been waiting for. Before diving into the specs, Oldenburg first drew our attention to the tremendous good DJI drones are doing around the world.

We’ve been keeping track of how many people have been rescued with the help of a drone. We’re at 144 with more being added every month.

— Michael Oldenburg, Product Communication Lead, DJI

One life was that of Rick Allen, a famous mountaineer who went missing on Broad Peak, the 12th highest mountain in the world. Allen had fallen approximately 100 feet down the mountain, and his fellow climbers feared him dead. Thankfully, Allen was spotted by a DJI Mavic Pro piloted by the Polish brothers Andrzej Bargiel and Bartek Bargiel. The live feed from the drone determined Allen was still alive and aided in his rescue, helping to save his life.

Oldenburg expressed how stories like these fuel the DJI team’s passion for innovation when designing new drone technology like the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom.

How Consumer Feedback Helped Shape the Mavic 2 Series

Another driving factor Oldenburg discussed was consumer feedback. When it came time to reimagine what the Mavic Pro could be, DJI looked to their consumers for guidance.

We asked content creators what they wanted most: a more versatile camera that broadens the variety of creative shots that can be captured, better flight performance to fly faster and longer, and an improved obstacle sensing system to let you focus more on capturing the perfect shot.

— Michael Oldenburg, Product Communication Lead, DJI

Over the course of two years, DJI’s team worked diligently to deliver what content creators asked for.

Revealing the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom

After an extensive introduction, Oldenburg finally got into the nitty gritty, revealing a slew of new features on the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom. The audience cheered as the drones hovered onto the stage and landed on the display platform.

Each model delivers (big) improvements from the first-generation Mavic Pro—most notably the professional grade, 1” CMOS, 20 megapixel camera (Mavic 2 Pro) and a 2x optical zoom (Mavic 2 Zoom). We’ve created a separate guide to the specs and features of the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom here.

Mavic 2 Pro

The Mavic 2 Pro is available now for $1,449 and the Mavic 2 Zoom for $1,249. You can purchase the Mavic 2 Pro or Mavic 2 Zoom here.

Jimmy Chin Provides an End User Perspective on the Mavic 2 Series

Jimmy Chin, renowned photographer and filmmaker, took the stage to share his thoughts on the Mavic 2 from an end users point of view. Chin has traversed all seven continents as a professional climber while capturing breathtaking photography and video of his expeditions for publications such as National Geographic, Time, and Vanity Fair.

Jimmy Chin speaks at See the Bigger Picture

Chin took the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom with him on his latest expedition to Greenland to test out its features and reliability.

I need reliable equipment. These are places that I can’t go back to and reshoot. It has to happen at that time and it has to happen when I’m there.

— Jimmy Chen, Photographer and Filmmaker

Through Chin’s expedition, the Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom were able to withstand extremely cold and windy conditions so he could capture images like this:

A post shared by Jimmy Chin (@jimmy_chin) on

DJI Makes a Few Surprise Announcements

The event concluded with a few bonus reveals. Oldenburg returned to the stage and gave viewers the details on five new/improved offers from DJI.

  • The fly more combo has been unbundled and is now the fly more kit. Priced at $319, the kit comes with: two additional batteries, multi-battery charging hub, car charger, extra propellers, and a travel bag.
  • DJI Care Refresh — a comprehensive warranty program that provides up to two replacements for a small additional charge.
  • Camera and gimbal replacement service — so you can switch the camera on the drone without having to buy an entirely new one.
  • DJI Trade Up — a technology trade-in program that lets you exchange used DJI gear and other electronics to receive credit in the DJI online store toward a new purchase.
  • DJI Annual AirWorks Conference — set for October 30 – November 1, 2018, the conference will focus on the growing commercial drone ecosystem.

You can watch the event from start to finish below:

YouTube Video

The post Highlights from DJI’s “See the Bigger Picture” Event | Mavic 2 Pro and Zoom Release Recap appeared first on UAV Coach.

Drone Pilots—Keep Away from Wildfires | How to Stay Informed on Temporary Flight Restrictions and Save Yourself a $25,000 Fine

If you’ve been watching the news lately, you know that California has again been experiencing devastating fires.

tfr-drones-wildfire

Image source

And it’s not just California.

During the summer months wildfires are raging all over the hotter parts of the U.S.—and some rogue drone operators are making it hard for firefighters to do their jobs safely.

To put it simply, if you fly, they can’t. When drones are flown anywhere near an ongoing wildfire operation they make it too dangerous for fire personnel to do their jobs, which prolongs firefighting efforts and potentially puts both firefighters and nearby civilians in danger as they wait for the rogue drone to clear the sky.

If you fly your drone anywhere near a wildfire, you could get someone killed.

– FAA.gov

Flying a drone near a wildfire is also a federal crime, and in addition to the dangers it poses, could land you in legal trouble and get you a fine of up to $25,000.

Even though many drone pilots are aware of the dangers, it seems like there are still some out there who either don’t know, or don’t care. Despite growing efforts to educate pilots, the number of rogue drones interfering with firefighting operations also seems to be growing—the number was 2 in 2014, 25 in 2015, and 42 in 2016.

Just last week a drone flew over a helicopter that was dumping water on the Miles Fire at Burnt Peak, in Oregon, risking the lives of the firefighters in the helicopter and prolonging the time required for them to keep doing their job.

So what can you do as a drone pilot to make sure you’re flying safely during peak wildfire periods? Let’s take a look.

How you can avoid flying your drone near wildfires

You may want to fly your drone safely, but you’re just not sure how to get the information needed to avoid flying near ongoing wildfire operations.

Here are five things you can do to ensure that you won’t interfere with firefighters and endanger them and nearby civilians.

1. Use the FAA’s TFR List

Check this up-to-date list provided by the FAA of all areas where there is a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) in place due to wildfire. The list includes the locations and dates for which the TFR is in place, and should be your go-to reference if you have any uncertainty at all about whether you can fly in a given area.

faa-tfr-drones-fires

2. Use the Current Wildland Fires Program

Last year, in an effort to keep drones from operating where there were ongoing wildfire operations, the U.S. Department of the Interior launched a data sharing program called Current Wildland Fires.

According to the Interior, more than 73,000 wildfires are reported across the United States each year, which is a lot of data to keep track of—their new program is free to use, and provides up-to-date information on the location of wildfires throughout the U.S.

Here’s how to use the program:

1. Register for free with Current Wildland Fires.

2. Once registered, login to your free account and go to this page, then search for the group “Current Wildland Fires” and request to “Join this group” to gain access to wildland fire location data.

3. Once you’re given permission to join you’ll be able to find up-to-date information on where wildfires are happening in your area. Here’s a screenshot of what that information looks like (you can zoom in and out):

wildland-fires

3. Call the Flight Service Station

Before you fly, call FSS (Flight Service Station) to get up-to-date TFR information for your planned mission. You can reach them at 1-800-WX-BRIEF.

You should be able to speak with a live briefer when calling this number—if he or she doesn’t mention anything specifically about TFRs, you can always ask just to make sure there are none where you plan to fly.

4. Sign Up for FAA Notifications

The FAA regularly sends out notifications about TFRs due to wildfires and other scenarios. You can sign up to be on their list by following these steps:

1. Create an account with the FAA Safety Team here.

2. Login to your account and click on your email address in the upper right of the screen.

3. Select My Preferences and Profile.

4. Choose your email alert options (make sure to select the Selected ATC Notices so you can get the TFR alerts).

A note on these alerts: You’ll only get alerts for TFRs in and around your zip code, so don’t worry about your inbox being flooded with irrelevant information.

fire-fighting-aviation

Image source

5. Check Twitter (and Google)

You don’t have to be a Twitter aficionado to get TFR information from Twitter. In fact, you don’t even need a Twitter account.

If you want TFR updates, you can try Googling queries like: Twitter TFR wildfire [date] or Twitter TFR wildfire [location], and so on.

You can also check the official Twitter account of the FAA (@FAANews) and the VIP TFR twitter account (@VIP_TFR) for wildfire information.

Of course, you can also try various other Google searches to find current TFR information about your specific location and the date(s) on which you’d like to fly.

How are drones helping to fight wildfires?

Although the focus of this article is on rogue drones that endanger firefighting operations, drones have also been helping to fight fires.

Dr. Greg Crutsinger, founder of Scholar Farms, recently volunteered to use his experience as a drone pilot to help firefighting efforts in California, and documented his work in the video that appears below.

YouTube Video

Dr. Crutsinger’s work is just one example of the ways drones are being used for good these days. We’ve also written extensively on the Los Angeles Fire Department’s new drone program, and the model they provide for other public agencies to rollout their own drones programs, and there are hundreds of other examples out there, with more every day.

Want to learn more about how fire departments are using drones in the field? Check out this article on seven ways fire departments use drones in their work.

The post Drone Pilots—Keep Away from Wildfires | How to Stay Informed on Temporary Flight Restrictions and Save Yourself a $25,000 Fine appeared first on UAV Coach.

Page 5 of 122« First...34567...102030...Last »