You just never know when you’ll run into a heliport. That is what I recently discovered. I was seriously shocked to learn I had one within a couple miles of my house.
FAA regulations require that if you intend to fly a drone within five miles of an airport (or heliport) you’ll need to get their permission to fly. The reasoning is that manned flight always has the right of way or priority over unmanned flight. To assist drone pilots with this regulation the FAA developed an app (B4U Fly – it can be found in your favorite app store). Using your GPS location it checks to see if you are within a five mile radius of an airport or heliport. I really thought checking the app was going to be nothing more than a formality, just confirmation that I could fly immediately without needing to notify anyone. I was shocked to see the above graphic when I launched the app from my home. I live at the blue dot and it shows there is a heliport (Flying C) within a couple miles of my house. This was a shocker, because I’m in a metro area and I’ve not seen a helicopter land in this area.
Needing Flying C’s permission, I was now tasked with finding them. Using the app I drove to the location, which was just a house within a housing development. The lots were larger, but it didn’t seem large enough for a heliport and there was no indication of one either. The couple living there answered the door. Yes, this was Flying C. The previous owner would land his helicopter in the front yard, despite some neighbor opposition. As the new owners they decided to keep the Flying C designation and keep the heliport registration with the FAA. They have no intention of flying a helicopter from their property, so permission (in writing) was easy. I was also surprised that no other drone pilots had stopped by for permission. The take away is that following all the rules is important, even when they feel like nothing more than a formality.