Dear Drone Girl,
Perhaps you can point me to someone in San Francisco, my home town. First I’m 64 and just started flying quad copters. I’m in a public park in San Francisco flying my quad copter and get told I can’t fly there. I go online and can’t find a blog or forum to connect with other quad operators. Do you know of any active site where I can talk to other ‘flyers’? I’m not real happy since my park has zero people, tons of space and I’m not a safety hazard. Ugh!
-Seeking Out Flying space in SF
Thanks for your question — which seems to actually be twofold. The problem here is 1. you need some flying buddies, and 2. You don’t know how to approach people saying your flying is illegal, or even if it is illegal.
Let’s tackle the second question first. While I’m not a lawyer and you shouldn’t take my advice as legal advice, I can tell you this. As long as you are flying in a public space that is not in range of an airport, a National Park or other restricted airspace such as Washington, D.C. or Disneyland, you can legally fly for hobby use cases. Know your rights! If you are standing on private property to fly a drone, well, the property owner does have permission to kick you off their lawn.
Not sure if you are flying near an airport or on restricted airspace? There are a few great resources. I really love AirMap for its clean interface but more importantly accurate information.
Secondly, there’s the question of finding drone pilots! DJI just this week actually launched a social networking app that helps connect you with fellow drone pilots. There are also tons of other online and in-person groups. Before I lived in the Bay Area, I was a big fan of the Los Angeles and OC Drone User group, which exists on Meetup.com. There are groups for every type of drone interest. Groups for FPV! Groups for Phantom owners! Groups for racing drones! Google is your friend here in finding a meet up that suits your needs.
Oh, and if you just are looking for some great places to fly, I highly recommend Treasure Island or the UC Berkeley Campus. It’s a great excuse to stop and get some Cheeseboard too.