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What airports are "real"?

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#1
This is a weird question, and I'm sure it's been covered, but I can't find it. It ties in to the thread about people flying in restricted airspace, but I didn't want to hijack that thread. Sorry if this is one of those "not another one of these threads" threads. I did try to search, I just didn't come up with answers.

So I have 3 apps currently on my phone to monitor flying conditions, Hover, UAV Forecast, and B4UFly. None of them agree about how many airports I'm within 5 miles of. Hover shows one, an actual airport that I'm aware of. B4UFly shows 6. The one I know about, and several that don't exist, near as I can tell. UAV Forecast takes the cake as it shows more airports than I can count. According to it, there is literally no place to fly that isn't within 5 miles of one airport or another. The crazy thing is, no two apps agree. Some show up on each that don't show up on the others.

So my question is this: Is there a way to game the system that people are taking advantage of? Are land owners who dislike drones hip to the knowledge that we can't fly within 5 miles of an airport, so they get their land listed as an airport somehow? Some of the airport names I'm seeing are just like "Brandons Playland" or "Bob's airport", goofy names like that. So depending on where I'm at, if I want to fly for 15 minutes at under 100', I have anywhere from 3-10 airports I have to track down and inform? Weeding through ones that are just anomalies. And what if I go by the information on say Hover, and it misses one that only appears on B4UFly? Am I on the hook for violating airspace because I checked with the wrong app?

I see a lot of tutorials about how to notify ATC and where you can and can't fly, but nothing about all these strange ghost airports that seem to be everywhere.
 
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#2
Actually a very good question. I have not seen this discussed previously (sorry if it has).

I also have witnessed the very same inconsistencies. In one instance, after trying contact 4 of the 5 listed airports near at point I "needed" to fly, and getting nowhere (closed, no longer exists, no answer, no listing, et al) - followed by one hospital that did answer, but kept transferring and not knowing who to contact (heliport, by the way), I finally gave up.

Only wasted a few hours (literally).

Looking forward to reading what the community thinks.

Jeff
 
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#4
It's so hard because I want to follow the rules. I want to make sure I'm on the level. I have no problem informing ATC's etc. But if there is any hope of us as a community following the rules, they are going to have to make at least some attempt to make it possible for us to do so. I need to spend 3 hours on the phone to fly a mavic for 30 minutes at 60 feet agl? That's kooky. It would make more sense for them to inform me when they plan to have planes below 100' above my yard so I just know not to fly then!
 
Likes: DoomMeister
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#6
I agree with @Steve Carr One of the Apps I rely on is Verifly - its an insurance app but it lets me know if there is an airport near by. The BeforeUfly app was atrocious, I literally think my neighbors house was an airport according to that one. I never thought about what the OP said but I did wonder how there are so many "airports" near by but no runways.
 

DoomMeister

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#7
Steve Carr mentioned using sectional charts which is a very good idea. You can download digital versions from the FAA for FREE! At this site Digital Products. What you need are the VFR charts. There is also a guide you can download that explains how to read the charts.

The apps you mentioned all are using very outdated documentation to list airports, heliports, and seaplane sites. Many of these are small private airstrips that were listed with the FAA when farmers used planes to treat crops. Most are abandoned and have outdated contact information. Document your attempt to contact them.

Remember the first rule of flying a sUAS is that ALL manned flights have the right of way and it is the remote pilot's responsibility to scan for and avoid all manned flights.
 
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#8
Consult the sectional chart for the area you plan to fly. If it's not on the sectional, it's not airport.
I get that. My point was more academic. I'm more curious as to how a lot of these fake airports get on the other apps. Which, shouldn't be out of date since they haven't been in existence all that long. I suspected that old farm and private airstrips were on there. But a lot of them have names that would indicate they're fairly new, as in some teenager named them after his dog. One is just "Smiths Private Air space". It lead me to wondering if property owners who dislike or fear drones aren't trying to turn their property into no fly zones.

There was a story here in Pittsburgh a while back about a guy who's neighbor knocked his drone out of the sky. She was totally in the wrong. The drone was flying legally (apparently) and she had to pay damages. But the story ended with "The neighbor is now taking steps to make her property a no fly zone". So I was wondering if thats what some of these "airports" I'm seeing are. Weak attempts to keep those **** kids off my lawn, so to speak.
 
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#9
The reference to an FAA Sectional or other approved aerial navigation chart is a good one. Another free source of such charts is www.skyvector.com. The only agency that can certify and approve aerial charts is the FAA nd not all charts that are made available to us are approved for aerial navigation and are little more than a source for generalized information. That's inclusive of the B4UFly app, IMO, as it does not accurately depict airspace and lists private airports as restricted airspace. Also included in the generalized inaccurate info category are the stuff from AirMap and a couple other sources. Not certain, but I believe they are obtaining all the "airport" data, new, old, obsolete, and often incomplete sources previously published by the FAA and lumped together as 'control zones". Even the FAA makes the statement that some airport data on Sectional charts may be incomplete or out of date. The people generating those privately developed aerial reference charts are trying very hard to get their stuff adopted by the FAA in order for them to later generate revenue and some of their classification and dimensional motives are a little suspect. Another legal source of airport information is the Airport Facilities Directory, published by the FAA in volumes to cover different regions of the country. That directory describes the airspace the airport lies in and provides airport contact info. Sky Vector provides that contact info on their site as well.

It's been awhile, but I used to teach private pilots and back then small, podunk, backwoods private airports were not granted any more 'protection" than the classification of the general airspace above them, along with altitudes relevant to safe altitude for flight. For most that would encompass the standard 500' or 1,000' safe separation distance/altitude rule based upon the presence of structures or population density. There was/is no mandatory lateral distance for which other aircraft have to remain clear of the “airport”. Unless they had a published approach and departure, or were open to the public the only restrictions were to abide by the common approach and departure practices published in the Airman's Information Manual. Recent review of the FAR's appeared to indicate there may not always be flight restrictions near hospitals or some other facilities with helicopter pads. I would consult with an attorney specializing with aviation law before believing that but it may well be such facilities must have a published approach and/or departure for them to qualify for a controlled airspace restriction. Only the FAA can grant a provision of controlled airspace.

Personally, when I come across small private land airports that deny access to public general aviation I don't provide them any special treatment aside from assuring safe separation from manned aircraft. They are not airport traffic areas and are not afforded the protection of controlled airspace. People that try to get the airspace over their personal private property are, IMO, just zealots that have gone off the deep end. Under the law their private control of their airspace ends at a the height they can effectively use. Do a little checking and you'll find that U.S. LEA's commonly view the cap of that altitude at 200', although in reality it's not any higher than the tallest object on their property. However, what the owners of that property are doing if and when you fly overhead is well protected under numerous different copyright and privacy laws. If you take pictures of them and their activities you could end up in a world of financial hurt.

In conclusion, don't take my word for any of the above, consult with an attorney with a history in aviation law specialization.
 
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#11
That actually started about a year and a half ago, and I believe AirMap was participating in the recognizing the registrants. Not sure of that, but I recall one of the drone airspace map vendors being involved. Once again though, the only agency with airspace authroity in the U.S. is the FAA and those that self restrict the airspace over their personal property could find themselves in a world of legal hurt.
 
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#12
Consult the sectional chart for the area you plan to fly. If it's not on the sectional, it's not airport.
Well that’s not completely true if I remember correctly. Most Helliports do not show on the sectional. I seem to recall that FAA does define a heliport as an airport. That’s what keeps me grounded here in OC.
 
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#13
This is a weird question, and I'm sure it's been covered, but I can't find it. It ties in to the thread about people flying in restricted airspace, but I didn't want to hijack that thread. Sorry if this is one of those "not another one of these threads" threads. I did try to search, I just didn't come up with answers.

So I have 3 apps currently on my phone to monitor flying conditions, Hover, UAV Forecast, and B4UFly. None of them agree about how many airports I'm within 5 miles of. Hover shows one, an actual airport that I'm aware of. B4UFly shows 6. The one I know about, and several that don't exist, near as I can tell. UAV Forecast takes the cake as it shows more airports than I can count. According to it, there is literally no place to fly that isn't within 5 miles of one airport or another. The crazy thing is, no two apps agree. Some show up on each that don't show up on the others.

So my question is this: Is there a way to game the system that people are taking advantage of? Are land owners who dislike drones hip to the knowledge that we can't fly within 5 miles of an airport, so they get their land listed as an airport somehow? Some of the airport names I'm seeing are just like "Brandons Playland" or "Bob's airport", goofy names like that. So depending on where I'm at, if I want to fly for 15 minutes at under 100', I have anywhere from 3-10 airports I have to track down and inform? Weeding through ones that are just anomalies. And what if I go by the information on say Hover, and it misses one that only appears on B4UFly? Am I on the hook for violating airspace because I checked with the wrong app?

I see a lot of tutorials about how to notify ATC and where you can and can't fly, but nothing about all these strange ghost airports that seem to be everywhere.
around me there are a lot of airparks . that is housing subdivisions that have private run ways . no one to really contact becuse there is no control tower or air traffic control . some if you drive to where they are located you just find a empty dirt runway . a lot where used by farmers for crop dusting .
 

DoomMeister

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#14
around me there are a lot of airparks . that is housing subdivisions that have private run ways . no one to really contact becuse there is no control tower or air traffic control . some if you drive to where they are located you just find a empty dirt runway . a lot where used by farmers for crop dusting .
So in that case, educate yourself in the procedures a pilot would use while landing or taking off from that airfield. Since there is no contact information, you need to know where a pilot is likely to be within the 400 foot ceiling you have and avoid totally, or at least be vigilant so you can yield right of way to the manned flight.

The FAA provides the information for free on their website, so we can educate ourselves and properly utilize the airspace.
 
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#15
Go online and get a sectional chart , it will explain the air space and what airfields are nearby . They are a lot of help .
 
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#16
I do believe Hospital helipads have to contact local ATCs before they launch, though as was stated, they may have designated launch and return "lanes" that they have to be in once they get within a certain distance of the airport which are off-limits to all other except military.
If they're called to service, they *should* have absolute ROW over civilian aircraft. I'd hate to know my life or death situation (i.e. airlifted from a crash on the highway) was being held up by some business commuters, cropdusters, F'edEx/UPeeS, or vacationers.

I'm also under the impression that cropdusters (still used around here) are required to file flight plans with the local ATC (town of under 100K people and yet we have an actual airport).

It would seem logical to me that if a drone pilot informs the local ATC that there will be a drone in a given area, if a medevac chopper or field sprayer announces a flight, ATC will either inform me, them, or both, so I can land. Contacting private strips and hospitals seems like an unreasonable burden if the ATC is a central communication hub for all parties.

As for the "Bob's Private Property" thing, I see nothing wrong with it. Personal privacy outweighs everything else at all times. If the only way to have any legal claim against aerial invaders, whether intentional or not, is to get a private airspace listing, then that should be your right, even though it's a burden on the landowner.

Then again, if you want to be able to fly your drone over your property unobstructed, you can file for the same restriction. However, reasonable height restrictions should be applied, so you cannot photograph/film neighboring properties. If that means 20 feet because you have a small lot with neighbors close enough to hear your phone ring, that's the price for living in a crowd. I'm on 18 acres well outside city limits in a farming community, so even at 400 feet, at the dead center of my property, all I see is my property if the camera is pointing straight down.

Drones are not a right, they're a privilege, and an unprotected one at that. Those who continually and habitually infringe on protected rights of others with their irresponsible drone usage are why it's an ever-increasingly restricted hobby. Cheap drones like DJIs for $30 are cashing in while perpetuating and promoting irresponsible use.
If the cost of getting into the hobby had remained above $300 minimum, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
 
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#17
The price of general education relative to the rules governing our airspace is free for anyone that wants to review the documentation via the FAA website. That most are to lazy to go there and spend some time reading the stuff is the real problem. Similar applies to the limits of private land owner airspace rights. We can Google that all day long. But again, people are too lazy to do their own research or don’t really care enough to do it. Instead they look for a single post in a social media blog to explain all the intricacies of an extremely complex system through a single sentence.
 
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#18
I understand the FAA claims ownership of airspace starting at 1/2" AGL and extending to infinity. They also clearly state that drones cannot surveille private property.
 
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#20
This is a weird question, and I'm sure it's been covered, but I can't find it. It ties in to the thread about people flying in restricted airspace, but I didn't want to hijack that thread. Sorry if this is one of those "not another one of these threads" threads. I did try to search, I just didn't come up with answers.

So I have 3 apps currently on my phone to monitor flying conditions, Hover, UAV Forecast, and B4UFly. None of them agree about how many airports I'm within 5 miles of. Hover shows one, an actual airport that I'm aware of. B4UFly shows 6. The one I know about, and several that don't exist, near as I can tell. UAV Forecast takes the cake as it shows more airports than I can count. According to it, there is literally no place to fly that isn't within 5 miles of one airport or another. The crazy thing is, no two apps agree. Some show up on each that don't show up on the others.

So my question is this: Is there a way to game the system that people are taking advantage of? Are land owners who dislike drones hip to the knowledge that we can't fly within 5 miles of an airport, so they get their land listed as an airport somehow? Some of the airport names I'm seeing are just like "Brandons Playland" or "Bob's airport", goofy names like that. So depending on where I'm at, if I want to fly for 15 minutes at under 100', I have anywhere from 3-10 airports I have to track down and inform? Weeding through ones that are just anomalies. And what if I go by the information on say Hover, and it misses one that only appears on B4UFly? Am I on the hook for violating airspace because I checked with the wrong app?

I see a lot of tutorials about how to notify ATC and where you can and can't fly, but nothing about all these strange ghost airports that seem to be everywhere.
are you 107 and are you getting paid? If hobby flying in class b or class a airspace especially if near international airport's its always good to be safe, technically regulations don't require you to contact the airport this is just safe practice to get use to. To fly above 400 you will need to get a wavior and if you're doing commercial work you are required most of the time to have a flight plan , its good practice to take all precautions. its up to you to check air traffic and to notify airports and get waviers, i use flightaware for air traffic, and if you're unsure if real download the vfr map in the area to see your flight restrictions and airspace you can find all up to date vfr maps online.
 

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