by Hal Davis
WisDOT Bureau of Aeronautics
If the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) estimates were correct, there should now be about one million more drones buzzing through the air, thanks to the holiday season! More drones in the air will undoubtedly bring about more questions. Do I need to register my drone? Where can I fly it? Do I need to notify the airport? If so, how do I notify the airport? And from the airport manager’s perspective, Help! Someone wants to fly a drone near my airport…what do I do?
The best place to find the answers to these questions and more is www.faa.gov/uas.
Drone rules are quickly evolving. To make sure you have the most current information, it’s always a good idea to start with the FAA.
However, if after reading through the FAA information you still have unanswered questions, feel free to give the Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics (BOA) a call at (608) 266-3351 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to talk through any number of questions and scenarios you might have. If I can’t answer your questions, I’ll make sure you get in touch with someone who can.
I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight two helpful resources for drone pilots. First, savvy pilots know that flying close to a nearby airport or heliport may require advanced notification.
Don’t know how close you are to the nearest airport? BOA has a Google Earth layer, which depicts all of the public and private airports and heliports in Wisconsin. This data layer can be downloaded for free at: http://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/travel/air/airport-info/arp.aspx, or simply use your favorite Internet search engine to search keywords Wisconsin Airport Reference Points.
Second, we’ve heard from several drone pilots that do not know how to contact an airport or heliport once they recognize the need for advanced notification. The easiest method I know is to use the FAA’s Airport Master Record database. This database can be found at www.gcr1.com/5010web. Contact information is listed for each facility.
Want an even simpler way? Remember that airport reference point data layer I talked about two paragraphs ago? Just click on one of the airports or heliports on the map, then click on the “FAA 5010” link toward the bottom of the pop-up and voilà, contact information!