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What ever happened to the investigation of the drone that almost took the helo down at the 500?

Chris Tobin

Well-Known Member
#2
My GUESS is that the pilot of the helo was flying MUCH lower than he should have been in order to get hit by or to run into a RC drone that was probably being used to film the racing action...
 
#3
It was SCORE’s drone and SCORE’s insurance company is covering the cost to repair the helicopter. Based on that fact I would say it wasn’t entirely the pilots fault ...


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Zambo

Well-Known Member
#4
Drones are supposed to stay below 400 feet, which is actually quite high for a drone. Usually they are much lower than that. Helicopters are supposed to stay above 500 feet, which is a limit that is quite obviously ignored.
 

JDDurfey

Well-Known Member
#6
Drones are supposed to stay below 400 feet, which is actually quite high for a drone. Usually they are much lower than that. Helicopters are supposed to stay above 500 feet, which is a limit that is quite obviously ignored.
Heck I don't think I have ever seen a "chase" chopper during a race that wasn't below 500 feet. That goes for the Mint 400 at times as well.

We had a chopper so low it was purposely kicking up dust and blocking our race car one time. It also flew into the power lines over Mike's road a little while later, if that says anything about the quality of the pilot.
 

ndvalium

Rescue Director
#7
Heck I don't think I have ever seen a "chase" chopper during a race that wasn't below 500 feet. That goes for the Mint 400 at times as well.

We had a chopper so low it was purposely kicking up dust and blocking our race car one time. It also flew into the power lines over Mike's road a little while later, if that says anything about the quality of the pilot.
as far as US races, the permit typically lays out the flight requirements and we meet with every pilot before the race. BITD races, unless otherwise dictated by permit is 500 above any designated spectator or Pit areas or areas where volunteers have their camps set up. and not limited on AGL other than that. They are warned however if they create dust for anyone as we have comms with all of them now as well. Some races the AGL limits are dictated by other factors. Laughlin for instance requires below 1000 for all areas on the NV side as a result of approach paths for the airport. On occasion when military training is going on, they have made it a 500 foot ceiling. Two years ago we had a permit in which the BLM mandated above 500 and the military demanded below 500. that was a fun meeting to try and work through.

If I remember correctly, the mexico one that crashed also ended up in a shoot out between feds and cartel when they went to steal the bodies from the morgue. wasnt it following a class 1 car that wasnt officially entered in the race?
 

JDDurfey

Well-Known Member
#8
as far as US races, the permit typically lays out the flight requirements and we meet with every pilot before the race. BITD races, unless otherwise dictated by permit is 500 above any designated spectator or Pit areas or areas where volunteers have their camps set up. and not limited on AGL other than that. They are warned however if they create dust for anyone as we have comms with all of them now as well. Some races the AGL limits are dictated by other factors. Laughlin for instance requires below 1000 for all areas on the NV side as a result of approach paths for the airport. On occasion when military training is going on, they have made it a 500 foot ceiling. Two years ago we had a permit in which the BLM mandated above 500 and the military demanded below 500. that was a fun meeting to try and work through.

If I remember correctly, the mexico one that crashed also ended up in a shoot out between feds and cartel when they went to steal the bodies from the morgue. wasnt it following a class 1 car that wasnt officially entered in the race?
You are correct on the story. The car I was navigating in started one position behind them. They were officially entered in the race as far as I know. But they were complete pricks! I didn't get into the car until BFG 1 located at the turn to Mike's road. Our car had a steering cooler leak so it was down for a few minutes while that was patched, so the car in question pulled away. But, before the break down they would not let us pass. The chopper would swoop down and actually block our car and stir up dust on purpose.

I was standing at BFG 1 waiting on our car when the crash happened, BFG sent their medical personnel to help and set up an LZ for the medivac chopper to land behind the pit.
 
#9
At this years San Felipe 250 there was a helo that was flying low enough and just in front of his Motorcycle rider that he was clearing the dust I thought he was talented.
 

Honda48X

Well-Known Member
#10
Drones are supposed to stay below 400 feet, which is actually quite high for a drone. Usually they are much lower than that. Helicopters are supposed to stay above 500 feet, which is a limit that is quite obviously ignored.
Is that an international law. It is Mexico....
 

Zambo

Well-Known Member
#11
Is that an international law. It is Mexico....
Regardless, if they collided 100’ off the ground it certainly wouldn’t be the drones fault. Unless of course it was near the airport or some restricted space.


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200MPHTape

Well-Known Member
#12
Regardless, if they collided 100’ off the ground it certainly wouldn’t be the drones fault. Unless of course it was near the airport or some restricted space.


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Not necessarily, I watched the drone footage live and that drone was up there a couple of times, that 500ft is anywhere "there are people or pit areas" the rest for heli's is where ever the pilot feels safe, fixed wing must stay above that 500 unless landing.
 

Zambo

Well-Known Member
#13
Not necessarily, I watched the drone footage live and that drone was up there a couple of times, that 500ft is anywhere "there are people or pit areas" the rest for heli's is where ever the pilot feels safe, fixed wing must stay above that 500 unless landing.
You're right, not necessarily. Its not good to speculate on these kind of things. But lets get the rule right, at least as it applies in the US. Helos are supposed to stay 500' above cities and towns. In rural areas they can go down lower but must remain at least 500' away from any person, vehicle or structure. I have ridden in chase copters and let me tell you they spend a large amount of time well below that 500' limit. Mexico may have a different law but I doubt it and in any case I'm pretty sure the SCORE book says helos must stay at 500' above and 500' laterally from the course.

Drone operators rarely fly that high. Maybe to get a panoramic shot but not very likely when filming race action. The main point of the drone is to film the action and their main advantage is being able to get in close. From 500' the cars are too small to see well with the cameras on most drones. 100' is a much more common altitude for filming any sort of race action.

So again, yes its possible that the drone climbed up to 500' and hit the helo, but I find it much more likely that the helo was down much lower to the ground when the impact occurred. In any case, as a drone operator if a helo was coming through the area where I was flying I would endeavor to get out of the way, as would any reasonable and prudent pilot. Altitude splits are the easiest and most effective way to separate aircraft and unless drones are banned then they will occupy the low ground and helos who venture down there are taking an ever-increasing risk as drones proliferate.
 

200MPHTape

Well-Known Member
#14
I'm sure there's footage. :cool:
I was meaning that some of the footage I saw, it was high, not that it for sure was at 500, I would have thought that the rotor wash would have kept it from getting under there, guess not.
 
#15
I miss the days when they were called RC Helicopters.

This dickhead at the bar the other night was calling himself "a pilot" and a "drone operator" trying to impress some chicks with his cool job.

My friend the bartender says he was full of ****. He just seemed like a douche and i had nothing better to do while waiting for my drink so I messed with him. He was trying to act like he was launching rockets at terrorists and whatever.

I kept interrupting him while he was trying to lay his game on these two ladies. "What branch of the service are you in? So is all the stuff you do top secret?" He then says he's "an independent contractor".

"Oh, like black water? Wow"

No.

Turns out he once in a while takes aerial pics of houses for his mom who is a realtor.
 
#17
That right there is funny. Thanks Dan.
Wish I could have been there. While I'm not a pilot or own a drone, I do shoot missiles from time to time.
I test them for the Navy.
 

Bro_Gill

Well-Known Member
#18
I believe most of the World accepts FAA flight rules since that is what pilots are taught to live by around the globe. I believe in Mexico, any flights below 500 feet are suppose to have a special permit issued before the flights occur. I believe SCORE gets one of these permits for every race, but not for chase copters, it is for the medical copter to land and pick up injured folks. 500' agl is the rule.
 

Zambo

Well-Known Member
#19
I'm sure there's footage. :cool:
I was meaning that some of the footage I saw, it was high, not that it for sure was at 500, I would have thought that the rotor wash would have kept it from getting under there, guess not.
I'll just say one more thing because as I said before, speculation on incidents like this is almost always incomplete at best if not down right wrong. AGL altitudes when used for deconfliction are very hard to use. A drone certainly doesn't have an AGL readout, it only tells you how high you are compared to where you launched from. For instance if you take off from a hill that is 300 feet high and fly out over the ocean, your readout might say 300 feet but you'd actually be 600 feet over the water. Bottom line is this kind of flying has some rules for deconfliction but at the end of the day it is see and avoid, which means the drone operator needs to keep that thing within visual range. I believe that requirement is an FAA regulation.
 
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