Operations and Operating Legally, a Personal Checklist

We have been doing quite a bit of flying this past week, getting our operations fine tuned as we build up our business.  On Thursday, Sept 22, we hosted one of our Part 107 Cram Sessions and had all 3 applicants pass, which keeps our pass rate at a solid 100 percent.

Thursday was also a time to operate at the Airport where we perform our Cram Sessions.  It is a good setup, our clients come there, we brief them and they take the FAA Part 107 Knowledge test immediately afterwards.  We remain there until they are done.  At any rate, we flew there while our clients took their tests.  Setup and flight was no big deal, the only thing holding us up was waiting for the Airport Manager to give us permission to operate.  Having the Airport Manager’s permission isn’t required by Part 107, but it is a good courtesy to pilots operating in an airport environment.

This brings up points relevant to the title of this article.  Operations.  My personal checklist for my System goes as Follows.

  1.  Remove from Case
  2.  Remove Gimble covers
  3.  Power up System
  4.  Connect Ipad to Controller
  5.  Launch Go App
  6.  Calibrate Compass
  7.  Launch
  8.  Film
  9. Recover
  10. Power off and repack system.

Before powering up, we highly recommend making sure your area of operations is legal for Drone flying.  Our two tools are VFRmap and the Airmap App. 

Both of these are useful supplements to one another.  The VFR Map allows you to use have a current Sectional Chart electronically available while the Airmap App lets you supplement the Sectional Chart information in an easily visible manner.  As mentioned before, only a Sectional Chart provides legal means for establishing Airspace locations, however one good thing about Airmap is that it allows you to see things such as National Parks, where drone flying is still Forbidden by the National Park Service, which in my Area of Operations occupies a significant portion of airspace.

In addition you should verify weather conditions are VFR so you can operate legally in according to Part 107 limitations.  The best way to do so i either calling 1800-WXBrief for a weather briefing, or by looking at the weather at your nearest airport at www.aviationweather.gov.

Finally,  on Friday a client of mine asked about checking and deciphering NOTAMs. Checking NOTAMs and TFRs are also part of preflight actions for a Remote Pilot.  In this case, the NOTAM he mentioned was in a rather indecipherable format as seen below.

!TCL 09/014 TCL SVC SPECIAL EVENT UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA FOOTBALL SEE NTAP 1609241100-1609242359

A quick run thorough a NOTAM deciphering tool located at http://www.notamdecoder.com/ yielded this translation.

Decoded NOTAM: !TCL 09/014 TCL Service SPECIAL EVENT UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA FOOTBALL SEE Notice To Airman Publication 1609241100-1609242359 .

Googling the Notice To Airmen Publication number gave the link below.

https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/notices/

Searching there showed all NOTAMs from September 15 to October 12, 2016.  Looking up the University of Alabama Football game in Tuscaloosa  on that publication gave detailed Air Traffic instructions for pilots arriving for the Game.

As can be seen flying legally is clearly a process.  However, it is up to us as Remote Pilots to make sure we do so every time we fly.