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Steve Rhode

The Public Safety Flight website is dedicated to news, honest information, tips, and stories about the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), UAVs, aircraft, and drones in the fire service and other public safety niches.The site was founded by Steve Rhode, an FAA-certificated airplane commercial and instrument certificated pilot and a very experienced Part 107 UAS commercial pilot. Steve is the Chief Pilot with the Wake Forest Fire Department and the North Carolina Public Safety Drone Academy. He also provides expert advice to drone pilots through Homeland Security Information Network and he is an FAA Safety Team drone expert. Steve loves to work closely with public safety pilots to answer questions and share information, real-world truth, and drone operation advice. You can contact Steve here, learn more about Steve here, or join his public safety pilot private email list here.

New Drone Education Column for All Pilots Takes Flight

On October 20th I started a new series on Drone Life to help all drone pilots become wiser pilots with every flight. As a public safety manned and unmanned pilot, I’ve been a part of many challenging flights. Every flight is a learning experience, and I’ve learned so much the hard way.  In the earliest days of UAS flying, the …

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Could You Spot the Drone? Come Fly Along.

This recent training flight of mine gives you a good perspective of how difficult it would be for an airplane or a helicopter to spot a drone if a collision was likely. The video also demonstrates good crew coordination and communications. This is what is needed between an RPIC and a VO, for example. There is so much going on …

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FCC Commissioner Goes Full QAnon on DJI

A recent FCC press release is one of the most bizarre I’ve seen from a public official when it comes to drones. According to Federal Commission Commission Commissioner Brendan Carr, your DJI drone is collecting your heart rate and sending it back to China. “DJI drones and the surveillance technology on board these systems are collecting vast amounts of sensitive …

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This is What Exceptional Aviation Communication Sounds Like

There was a recent aircraft accident in Houston. The recording of the radio communications between the three helicopters and tower is a great example of the value of the type of radio communications and coordination that should occur between drone pilots and aircraft above incident scenes. In my experience dealing with new helicopters, they are very professional and will relocate …

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Supply-Chain Woes Begin to Hit the Aviation Industry

Supply-chain delays and components shortages are spilling over into the aviation market, making it difficult and more costly for planemakers to get ahold of certain parts. This comes as demand for commercial planes is surging, and could put the airline industry’s recovery at risk. So far the aerospace industry has avoided component shortages, largely because Boeing (BA) and Airbus (EADSY) …

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What Kind of Drones Have White, Red, and Green Lights?

A reader asked, “What kind of drones have white red, and green lights?” Again, it is another UAS question with no great answer. Facts About Lights Under CFR 107 A drone is not required to have any lights on it to fly except for an anti-collision light when flying between civil twilight and night. Manned aircraft have a requirement for …

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What is the Payload Capacity for the Skydio 2 Drone?

A reader asked me what the payload capacity is for a Skydio 2 drone. As is usual, there is no clear answer because several factors impact the payload capacity of any drone. Environmental Air density impacts the lift component of an aircraft. The thinner the air, the less lift is available. Thin air can be created by altitude or temperature. …

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DJI M300 Firmware Update Helps Safety a Bit

DJI has announced a new firmware update for the M300. One item caught my eye since it can assist pilots with part of their preflight responsibilities as described in Appendix E of AC 107-2A. In particular, is item four that states the pilot must “Verify all the manufacturer-required components that make up the small UAS are present and operating as …

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Do Drones Work Better Without Propeller Protectors? – Ask Steve

Today’s question from a reader is “Do drones work better without propeller protectors?” If you have a question to ask, click here. That’s a Loaded Question There are two issues we have to deal with regarding propellers. One is safety and the other is performance. Propeller Safety On one hand, it really doesn’t matter if a drone propeller operates better, …

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How Far Can I Fly at Night Using My Strobe Lights? – Ask Steve

“How far can I fly at night using my strobe lights?” is a question many just get wrong. Let’s look at the facts. Your UAS is required to have anti-collision lighting on it that can be seen for three statute miles. Unfortunately, some incorrectly assume that means they can fly for three miles at night. To fly within the regulations, …

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