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#49827 - 05/16/17 09:20 PM Drone flying in the Whitney Zone
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 413
Loc: Reno, NV
This thread started in the "Whitney Summit helicopter rescue", but morphed into a discussion of flying drones.
The drone discussion deserves its own topic.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Originally Posted By: Brandon Riza

I got some interesting drone footage from Trail Camp at about :35 in this video.


I've been told drones are illegal there


Edited by Steve C (05/18/17 08:46 AM)
Edit Reason: new thread started

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#49833 - 05/17/17 11:25 AM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: RenoFrank]
Brandon Riza Offline


Registered: 05/16/17
Posts: 5
Loc: Los Angeles
My understanding is that that area is FAA regulated MOA (China Lake and Edwards, I presume) but not Restricted (like the area directly around Lone Pine is) and does not fall within local regulations (such as within a Nat Park) It's admittedly confusing and a bit fluid and I could definitely be mistaken, so if you have some solid beta, I'd love to read it. Thanks for bringing it up. I try to operate that thing responsibly.
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#49834 - 05/17/17 11:51 AM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: Brandon Riza]
John B Offline


Registered: 05/17/17
Posts: 1
Loc: Illinois
It appears all motorized or mechanical activities, including drones, are not allowed.

USDA Forest Service Wilderness Permits

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#49837 - 05/17/17 09:04 PM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: John B]
jmester82 Offline


Registered: 08/11/14
Posts: 22
Loc: CA, USA
According to the national forest website, you can fly UAV on national forest land as long as there's no flight restrictions due to fire or search and rescue operations in place. In fact it says the national forest service has no authority over the air space and refers users to follow FAA guidelines if they want to fly.

Here's the link and fly responsibly.

https://www.fs.fed.us/science-technology/fire/unmanned-aircraft-systems

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#49839 - 05/17/17 09:59 PM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: jmester82]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 413
Loc: Reno, NV
Can someone make sense of the opposite allowance of drone use on the MMWT according to the last two posts? Perhaps because it is a "Wilderness"?

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#49840 - 05/17/17 11:33 PM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: jmester82]
psykokid Offline


Registered: 07/28/15
Posts: 52
Loc: Pasadena, CA
Originally Posted By: jmester82
According to the national forest website, you can fly UAV on national forest land as long as there's no flight restrictions due to fire or search and rescue operations in place. In fact it says the national forest service has no authority over the air space and refers users to follow FAA guidelines if they want to fly.

Here's the link and fly responsibly.

https://www.fs.fed.us/science-technology/fire/unmanned-aircraft-systems


The last paragraph on the page you linked says the following:

Quote:
The FAA provides guidance (link is external) on “Flights Over Charted U.S. Wildlife Refuges, Parks, and Forest Service Areas”. Per this guidance, federal laws prohibit certain types of flight activity and/or provide altitude restrictions over “designated Forest Service Areas.” UAS are considered to be "mechanized” equipment and cannot take off and land in designated Wilderness Areas on National Forest System lands.


Since that whole section of trail just above Whitney Portal up to the NPS boundary at Trail Crest is designated Wilderness and therefore a no-go.

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#49842 - 05/18/17 05:41 AM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: John B]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1539
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: John B
It appears all motorized or mechanical activities, including drones, are not allowed.

USDA Forest Service Wilderness Permits


From the first paragraph on the FS Whitney web page:

"Motorized or mechanical activities, like drones or bicycles, are not allowed in wilderness."

Its not an airspace issue: it takeoff and landing in the wilderness. National Parks use a similar rule to prohibit drones, even though they cant prohibit overflight: no takeoffs or "deliveries" by air. Which also prohibits airdrops.
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#49843 - 05/18/17 05:48 AM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: psykokid]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 774
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
The air space from Edwards AFB north to just south of Big Pine is a designated MOA (Military Operations Area). This means that military aircraft can operate freely from very low altitude to 18,000 feet. Military helicopters and fast-jets are seen almost every day flying through or around the Owens Valley. The MOA is also used by military fighter jets to practice ACM ("dog fighting"), during which time the pilots are too busy to be looking out for small objects or private planes. It can be a daily air show in the air above Lone Pine and Big Pine. I have seen military jets flying up and down the local canyons at low altitude.

Flying personal boy-toys in a place like Mt. Whitney shows a level of irresponsible stupidity that boggles the mind.


Edited by Bob West (05/18/17 05:49 AM)

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#49844 - 05/18/17 08:36 AM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: Bob West]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: Bob West
Flying personal boy-toys in a place like Mt. Whitney shows a level of irresponsible stupidity that boggles the mind.

On the other hand, you can see some really inspiring video taken from drones. Check out the video Fishmonger posted here, and think about how they recorded some of the scenes:     VW Resurrection

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#49856 - 05/19/17 12:01 AM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: Steve C]
jmester82 Offline


Registered: 08/11/14
Posts: 22
Loc: CA, USA
Agreed! Footage from a drone can be very inspiring! I have flown my drone around the Alabama Hills and various locations in the Sierra. Personally, i am mindful of my surroundings both in the air and on the ground.i don't see a need to be flying high enough to share or invade the airspace of fighter jets or even civilian aircraft. I do hope that some day the powers at be will see the hobbyist point of view and find a middle ground. I'd like to see a permit system put in place so folks like me can legally fly in a national park, etc. I personally like to document my excursions in various ways and using a drone platform is one of the great ways to capture your experience in a unique way. The noise from a drone has gotten a lot better the past few years. Personally, i find the sound of a human being snoring, talking, belching, and farting in the wilderness more disrupting then say the whine of a drone which isn't hardly noticed and flights are generally limited between 10-20 minutes anyway. I don't mean to ruffle any feathers, but wish that both opinions can be a little respectful towards eachother rather then resort to name calling.

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#49858 - 05/19/17 09:10 AM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: jmester82]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
A blanket ban on drones is similar to the total ban on bicycles. It would seem that allowing limited use of drones and limited use of bicycles would be a reasonable compromise.

Currently there are several bills before congress to relax some of the rules. For example, it seems pretty ridiculous that trail crews are not allowed the use of wheelbarrows for trail maintenance.

The Lake Tahoe area has some trails where bicycles are allowed only on alternating days. Seems like a nice compromise to me.

Here's some info on the bills:   H.R. 1349
      Sustainable Trails Coalition   and   New bill could rescind mountain biking ban

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#49859 - 05/19/17 09:19 AM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: Steve C]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7209
Loc: Fresno, CA
Well this is timely...
Just received this from Inyo National Forest:
Quote:
Direction from our public affairs person

Well, I have received a call from an employee and two from the public today regarding drones, so this hand out is timely and I share it for reference with all of you who have regular contact with visitors.

There have been a handful of incidents in California this year where drones have grounded firefighting aircraft. Drones must adhere to TFRs (flight restrictions), otherwise we can’t ensure the safety of our aircraft.

Otherwise, common sense should prevail; drones should not harass wildlife, other visitors, damage resources, etc.

Here is the text of the pdf document sent along:   Recreational Drone Tips
Quote:
RECREATIONAL DRONE TIPS
The following tips are for responsible, hobby or recreational use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or "Drones" on National Forest System Lands

Know Where To Fly
  • Individuals and organizations may fly UAS for hobby or recreational purposes in compliance with the http://www.faa.gov/uas/model_aircraft/ (Section 336 of Public Law 112-95).
  • UAS must be flown below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles.
  • UAS are considered to be both “motorized equipment” and “mechanical transport” and, as such, they cannot take off from, land in, or be operated from congressionally designated wilderness areas.
  • UAS are not permitted to fly in areas that have Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) in place, such as wildfires. Search the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Web site for current TFRs at http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html.

Follow FAA guidelines
  • Ensure that you comply with all FAA regulations and guidance for flying your UAS. The FAA has authority over all airspace. Information on FAA regulations is available http://www.faa.gov/uas/.
  • Do not fly any aircraft weighing more than 55 pounds (total weight, including payload and fuel source).

Protect Wildlife & the Environment
  • Do not fly over congressionally designated wilderness areas or primitive areas as many people seek these places for the opportunities for solitude and quiet that they provide.
  • Do not fly over or near wildlife as this can create stress that may cause significant harm and even death. Intentional disturbance of animals during breeding, nesting, rearing of young, or other critical life history functions is not allowed unless approved as research or management.
  • Intentional disturbance of animals during breeding, nesting, rearing of young, or other critical life history functions is not allowed unless approved as research or management.
  • Follow State wildlife and fish agency regulations on the use of UAS to search for or detect wildlife and fish.
  • Launch the UAS more than 100 meters (328 feet) from wildlife. Do not approach animals or birds vertically with the UAS.

Fly Safely, Stay in Control
  • Keep your UAS within your visual line of sight at all times.
  • Take lessons and learn to operate your UAS safely.
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations.
  • Fly your UAS at least 5 miles from an airport or backcountry airstrip.
  • Keep your UAS away from populated and noise-sensitive areas, such as campgrounds, trail heads, and visitor centers.
  • Obey all privacy laws.


United States Department of Agriculture                     July 2015


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#49861 - 05/19/17 11:23 PM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: Steve C]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 413
Loc: Reno, NV
from "RECREATIONAL DRONE TIPS"


Originally Posted By: Steve C

[*]UAS are considered to be both “motorized equipment” and “mechanical transport” and, as such, they cannot take off from, land in, or be operated from congressionally designated wilderness areas.


As stated before, no drones on Mount Whitney Trail, right? Is the whole trail (Main and Mountaineer's Route) in a "wilderness area"?



Edited by RenoFrank (05/19/17 11:24 PM)

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#49863 - 05/20/17 08:40 AM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: RenoFrank]
1962 Offline


Registered: 11/19/12
Posts: 11
Loc: Bishop, CA
The wilderness boundary is at the North Fork trail and main trail junction, so Main and Mountaineer are both in the wilderness.

The area around the portal is also no drones... due to trailhead, campground, picnic area, etc.

•Keep your UAS away from populated and noise-sensitive areas, such as campgrounds, trail heads, and visitor centers.
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1962

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#49864 - 05/20/17 09:07 AM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: 1962]
Goose Offline


Registered: 07/17/16
Posts: 7
Loc: CA
I am fighting it, but I find this thread really sad. Is it really that unreasonable to think that we might keep some places drone free?

I have no problem with drones and have seen some really amazing drone footage that provides new vantages, or perspectives even. But I, for one, do not feel the need to see literally everything from the viewpoint of a drone. They are quickly being reduced to little more than really long selfie sticks.

My apologies. Just venting. I'm old enough to remember when people lamented being able to see satellites from wilderness areas.

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#49865 - 05/20/17 11:12 AM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: Goose]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1098
Loc: NorCal
Help me out here, I don't get it. People need drone video of the wilderness to be "inspired" to hike in the wilderness? Or does this just inspire more drone video? I think drones are really cool, but the sight and sound of them while hiking really bothers me. Like hearing someone talk loud on their cell phone, it's just not cool to invade other people's space like this. Maybe there's a way to open up a short window of access that hikers can avoid, but it should be very short and not an inconvenience to people seeking solitude.

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#49866 - 05/20/17 11:51 AM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: Goose]
Hobbes Offline


Registered: 03/28/14
Posts: 109
Loc: The OC
Originally Posted By: Goose
I'm old enough to remember when people lamented being able to see satellites from wilderness areas.


But still young enough to have missed out on large scale mining, grazing, and forestry operations.

Muir was in the minority. The majority of people saw the Sierra as simply another natural resource to be exploited for commercial gain.

Even 50 years ago, bears were purposely being fed to entertain park guests. Before permits & quotas, there was a sh!t ton of people doing whatever they wanted.

In this context, over the last 30 years we've been enjoying perhaps the most pristine, quiet & private wilderness experiences than ever before in history.

Not a drone advocate - personally, they annoy me - but context is key to understand just how good we have it right now.

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#49867 - 05/20/17 05:38 PM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: SierraNevada]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1539
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: SierraNevada
Help me out here, I don't get it. People need drone video of the wilderness to be "inspired" to hike in the wilderness? Or does this just inspire more drone video? I think drones are really cool, but the sight and sound of them while hiking really bothers me. Like hearing someone talk loud on their cell phone, it's just not cool to invade other people's space like this. Maybe there's a way to open up a short window of access that hikers can avoid, but it should be very short and not an inconvenience to people seeking solitude.


The current rule is no drones in wilderness. What more do you need?
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Wherever you go, there you are.
SPOTMe!

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#49868 - 05/20/17 07:17 PM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: saltydog]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1098
Loc: NorCal
My most recent annoyance was hiking the Little Lakes Valley trail where a small group was operating a couple drones. This was inside the John Muir Wilderness boundary. You're the lawyer Salty, but as I read it, they may have been within their rights if they LAUNCHED from just outside the boundary as long as they didn't LAND in the "wilderness"?

And they can be just as annoying in unofficial wilderness areas.

Either way, it comes down to enforcement. Was I supposed to break from the trail, walk around the lake to confront these people and ruin their fun? Then what? Call the FAA?

I don't have any perfect answers here, but I hope people operating drones start to realize they can disrupt other people's "nature" experience whether its in a designated "wilderness" area or just a hiking trail.


Edited by SierraNevada (05/20/17 07:19 PM)

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#49870 - 05/20/17 10:59 PM Re: Drone flying in the Whitney Zone [Re: SierraNevada]
jmester82 Offline


Registered: 08/11/14
Posts: 22
Loc: CA, USA
I respect those who have differing opinions on "drones" in this case. However, are you letting a few minutes of artificial noise ruin you're entire trip? I feel if someone wants to take a few minutes to capture a moment from a different perspective, they ought to be able to do that respectfully. On the flip side the same respect should be given to those who are sensitive towards the devices. On any given day there will be little annoyances that we can't get away from completely. I like to go up into the wilderness as much as I can and enjoy having a place all to myself. Sometimes I don't like it when a other people come to the same place and can be several hundred feet away from me or even across a lake but the sound of their voices or music carry over to me and "disturb" my solitude. So do we ban people from talking or bringing little portable speakers or a guitar from the wilderness? I believe we should respectfully share the wilderness. I don't advocate for people to bring their drones to just zip around a place of solitude like the wilderness just for the fun of it. That's what an RC park is for, but if 1 out of 100 people want to capture their experience on a camera using a drone, then they ought to be allowed to.

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