Most of the United States airspace is uncontrolled, meaning it is not monitored by air traffic controllers and pilots are free to navigate it at will, provided they adhere to all the applicable rules and regulations.
Certain areas though, usually (but not always) near airports, are controlled to ensure the safety of both aircraft and people and property on the ground. The Federal Aviation Administration regulations finalized in 2016 allow for federally licensed Unmanned Aerial System (drone) pilots to apply for and receive permission to fly in certain controlled airspace provided they take the steps necessary and mandated by the FAA to operate in those environments.
Since Spectacle Hill Visuals provides aerial photography (manned and unmanned) to our clients wherever they are (and since anything involving the federal government can be tricky!), we wanted to familiarize ourselves with the process of obtaining FAA clearance to fly unmanned systems in controlled airspace before we had a client request it (since as noted above most airspace is not controlled, most clients' projects will not need us to obtain such authorization).
As a location for our test-run of the process, we chose an area just east of the Augusta State Airport in Augusta, Maine. This location was ideal because Augusta State Airport (KAUG) is a small airport and carries the lowest level of controlled airspace (Class E). We are happy to report that while the bureaucratic process of obtaining the approval did take some time (so it is worth planning any aerial shoots a good bit in advance!), it all went smoothly, the FAA controller we worked with showed the utmost professionalism and our flight over the beautiful Kennebec River was a complete pleasure.
So if your next project involves aerial photography and your location is within controlled airspace (which it probably isn't!), have no fear, we can handle it!