Flying in Hampton Roads is not so easy

As I have mentioned before, because of the local airports and military bases, around 60 percent of Hampton Roads is restricted..

Flying in Hampton Roads is not so easy
Tuesday December 15th 2020 - 10:17 AM EST

By: Air Aspects

As I have mentioned before, because of the local airports and military bases, around 60 percent of Hampton Roads is restricted airspace, and so legally you cannot just "take off and get photos".

For example, Oceana’s airspace covers most of Virginia Beach, from the oceanfront to almost Town Center, and a lot of that area is completely restricted (the blocks with ’0’ in them), so you’re not even allowed to take the drone up 5 ft without getting permissions.

Where Oceana’s airspace ends, Norfolk International Airport’s airspace begins, covering most of Norfolk from Ocean View down to Waterside.  Again, several parts of that area are ’zero blocks’, meaning you cannot legally take off at all without jumping through a few hoops.

After that, with Naval Station Norfolk, Langley, Fort Eustis and Newport News/Williamsburg Airport, restricted airspace covers the Peninsula up to around Yorktown.

When flying in an FAA controlled airspace, such as Norfolk International Airport, permissions can sometimes be obtained through the LAANC - Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability - system. If you want to fly higher than that location block allows, you have to apply a few days out.

When flying in the military airspaces, advance permission from the FAA and the military base is required to be able to do the shoot legally and safely. This involves filling in a form on the FAA drone website and waiting for permission.

Some of this preparation can take a few days, depending on the exact location, time of day of the shoot, and length of the job.

This is why professional drone pilots like me often need at least a week’s notice when being asked to take aerial photos, even for a small real estate shoot.

Having such notice gives us time to get our ducks in a row, and gives time to plan the shoot for a nice day, so the photos turn out their best.  Also, this planning enables the task to be carried out legally and avoid possible fines, not just for the pilot but also for the person hiring them.

Several things have to be considered when you’re using aerial photos and video to promote yourself. This is where an experienced, licensed and insured photographer can really make you stand out from the crowd.

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