Last year I had the opportunity to study a 200 acre mountain vineyard property throughout the 2017 growing season. We made our first maps in March of 2017, and the final maps on November 1st, 2017. During the course of the season we flew the property 13 full days, each "day" averaging 10 - 14 individual flights. It was a great experience, enough for a book and far too much for a blog, but one of the interesting take-aways to me was simulated NDVI (VARI) and elevation studies.
Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) *@wikipedia
Visible Atmospherically Resistant Index (VARI) *@dronedeploy
Do I see anything at all? Are there areas of color that are growing better than other areas of color, if so, why? Is there anything we can do to move one from one side to the other?
Again I don't know, I'm not a wine maker or a farmer or a ranch hand...or a crop scientist, I'm just a guy looking at images and wondering if they make a difference.
The limit at which twilight illumination is sufficient, under good weather conditions, for terrestrial objects to be clearly distinguished;
at the beginning of morning civil twilight, or end of evening civil twilight, the horizon is clearly defined and the brightest stars are visible under good atmospheric conditions
Each twilight phase is defined by the solar elevation angle, which is the position of the Sun in relation to the horizon. During civil twilight, the geometric center of the Sun's disk is at most 6 degrees below the horizon. In the morning, this twilight phase ends at sunrise; in the evening it begins at sunset. Sunrise and sunset are the moments when the Sun's upper edge touches the horizon.
Lawmakers have enshrined the concept of civil twilight. Such statutes typically use a fixed period after sunset or before sunrise (most commonly 20-30 minutes), rather than how many degrees the sun is below the horizon. (since this would be very hard to "prove"). Adding a "range" makes it easier to argue from both sides since not only does there exist an acceptable range, but also acknowledges that there is some flexibility and deviation in the very definition of that range.
It seems to me that if it takes the earth 24 hours, or 1440 minutes to rotate 360 degrees, then it's reasonable to assume it takes about 4 minutes to rotate 1 degree (1440/360=4), or, by that math, 24 minutes to rotate 6 degrees (6x4=24), so a general "legal" reference of 20 - 30 minutes (as made above) seems also correct, in a less-definitive sort of way, and while 24 minutes is perhaps more precise, it would rarely, if ever, be exact.
Daylight-only operations, or civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting.
In the past month alone I had had people tell me these very frightening (and incorrect) "facts":
- You can fly drones at night, as long as you have lights.
- You can fly FPV (first person view, i.e., using VR goggles) without an observer.
- As long as you can see what the drone sees (through the camera), you can fly it as far away as you want.
- Drones have to fly under 400' and planes have to fly over 500' so drones and planes never share the same airspace. (perhaps the most frightening of them all)
- You can fly 400' over the highest point around you (oh boy...)
- I don't need to be certified if I am just selling the images & video I take
While none of those statements above hold any truth, here are real answers to some of the most common questions:
Who needs to be certified?Anyone operating any sUAS for hire. Under Part 107, every commercial drone operator needs to be certified by the FAA before they fly over a job site, mine, farm, or any other commercial property. If you are flying your Drone for hire or even for your own in-house commercial use, you must be certified.
Do you need to Register Your Aircraft?Every aircraft weighing between .55 lbs (250 grams) and 55 lbs (25 kg) needs to be registered with the FAA.
How far away can you fly?If you can't see it, it's not legal. You must, or you must have a visual observer in direct communication with you who can maintain a visual line of sight at all times. Any time you fly commercially, you have to keep the UAV within visual line of sight (VLOS). If using First Person View (FPV) or other similar technology, you must also have a visual observer on site to keep an eye on the vehicle without the use of a visual aid (like binoculars).
When can you fly?You are able to fly during daylight or twilight hours (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting.
What about Weather?Minimum weather visibility is three miles from your control station.
How High can you fly?The maximum allowable altitude for any drone is 400 feet above ground level (AGL). There are exceptions if your drone remains within 400 feet of a building (or structure) the pilot in command is operating from. The maximum speed is 100 mph (87 knots).
Steer Clear of PeopleYou can't fly a small UAS over anyone who is not directly participating in the operation at the time. You also can't fly the aircraft from under a covered structure, nor from inside a covered stationary vehicle.
That answer is, yes, technically it's "legal", but not necessarily allowed.
That legality is constrained by "posted" notices by any given State Park District. CA state parks are divided into districts and each district can post it's own drone regulations, limitations and restrictions of use on a park by park basis. They are also free to impose non-posted restrictions at their discretion, i.e., tell you to stop for any number of reasons including that it's disruptive to other visitors or frightening the chipmonks.
This is from the official page on the State of CA website regarding the matter. This regulation went into affect in August of 2016 and there don't appear to have been any updates since as this page is still live.
Drones are currently allowed in State Parks, State Beaches, State Historic Parks, State Recreational Areas, and State Vehicular Recreation Areas except where prohibited by a District Superintendent's posted order. Posted orders may prohibit drones for numerous reasons, including: protection of threatened species; threats to cultural and natural resources; high fire danger; public safety; recreational conflicts; impacts upon visitor experience privacy; and park unit classification. Therefore, drone users should always check with their local State Park District for any specific posted orders.
Drones in State Wilderness Areas, Natural Preserves, and Cultural Preserves:State Park regulations prohibit the use of motorized equipment (including UASs) within wilderness areas, cultural preserves, and natural preserves (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14, § 4351.) Therefore, drone users should always check the designation of the park unit before operating a drone.
So, yes, it may be "legal" or "allowed" in certain state parks as far as the state park system is concerned, but it's left up to the local state park district superintendent's to post and impose any additional regulations they feel are necessary within a given park, and these rules and regulations can be based on just about anything from breaking the serenity to public safety.
Recreational Drones:California State Parks recommends that recreational drone users check with their local State Park District before operating a UAS within a State Park. Each park unit may have its own posted orders. Even absent a posted order on drones, it is within the discretion of park staff to contact drone operators when drones threaten visitors, property, wildlife, or privacy. If a drone operator continues to fly in a dangerous or reckless manner, they may be asked to stop flying and remove the drone from park boundaries.
Commercial Drones:The FAA requires commercial drone operators to receive special authorization; either a Section 333 Exemption or a Special Airworthiness Certificate. The FAA defines commercial drone use as, among other things: filming for hire; selling aerial photography or videography; inspections for hire; surveying for hire; or flying to further a business purpose. Operating a drone for commercial purposes within a state park also requires a permit. Commercial Drone users must submit a copy of their FAA authorization to the appropriate State Park District(s). Depending on the proposed use, the District Superintendent may require a Special Event permit, Right of Entry permit, or other approval. Further, commercial photography or filming within State Park also requires a permit from the California Film Commission. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14, § 4316.)
Drones may prove a valuable tool for scientific research and surveys. Operation of a drone for research purposes requires approval from the FAA. Before operating a drone for research purposes within a state park, please submit a copy of your FAA authorization to the appropriate State Park District(s). California State Parks requires a scientific collection permit (DPR 65) for any scientific research and surveys within a State Park.
Public Agency Drones:
The FAA requires public entities to obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to operate public aircraft. Before operating a drone for governmental purposes within a state park, please submit a copy of your COA to the appropriate State Park District(s).
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