Aerial Photography; Flying Safely


When you hire a drone pilot the single most important issue the pilot deals with is flying safely. The pilot is fully responsible for this. It is one of the most complex things I have learned for my business which includes photography, retouching, video production with editing and now aerials.

A safe altitude was only 200′ south of the tower but 300′ north of the tower due to the Sky Harbor flight path.

Anyone providing aerial photography for business use must register their drone with the FAA and have the FAA Part 107 license. The test covers many of the same safety issues for pilots of manned aircraft. You must know how to read sectional charts and legends to know what airspace you are in; Class B is Sky Harbor, Class D is for  smaller municipal airports. We cannot fly within 5 miles of an airport without authorization.

This FAA Sectional Chart shows many airports and warning zones.

We first use a few apps like to see if we can get almost real time authorization for the location through LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization & Notification Certification). We submit a request for a specific date and time to fly. If LAANC is not available in that area, which is the case for many areas in Metro-Phoenix, we must then submit a request for a waiver using the FAA DroneZone website which may take weeks or months to get approved. I then contact the Air Traffic Control tower of the airports nearby and provide them with the waiver ID # so that they can keep an eye out for it and rush it along.

The Legend helps us read the Sectional Chart to identify the class of airspace and obstacles.

An altitude restriction may be set to 100’ or 200’ in certain zones. The maximum altitude for a drone is 400’ in uncontrolled airspace, or Class G airspace.

When we get approval we ain’t done yet! DJI builds Geo Fencing into every drone. This prevents the drone from flying when it’s GPS determines that it is an a warning zone or controlled airspace. There are a few ways to disable this by submitting our FAA approval to DJI, and then turning off Geo-Fencing in the controller.

Now for the easy part: flying the drone, capturing images and enhancing/editing the images. Well, it’s not really easy even with lots of practice.

If your company buys a drone the operator assigned to the drone would be responsible for following strict safety rules.

Link to Aerial videos:

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