Flying a Drone (sUAS) at 30A in Florida

My family just went on a trip to the 30A area of Florida. This area is a combination of small towns in South Walton County, FL, between Destin and Panama City. I wanted to take my DJI Mavic Pro on the trip to take a few photos, and I was aware that the airspace along the entire panhandle of Florida is tricky due to several military bases in the area. I did the due diligence, as best as I could research, and was able to fly successfully. Here are the steps I took:

  1. Find out who I am actually supposed to contact. This appears to be the document that outlines all of the relevant information: https://www.flycew.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Eglin-AFB-Local-Area-sUAS-Guidelines-Jul-17.pdf
  2. E-mailed a copy of the form to 96oss.oso.eglinairspacemgt@us.af.mil. I actually e-mailed that address first to verify that was the correct procedure, and they sent me a copy of the form as a Word doc, which was easier to edit than the PDF.
    1. I had to outline when and where I was flying, and provide my sUAS registration information
    2. An Airspace Manager from the USAF replied:

      My office can handle your request to use a sUAS IVO Seagrove Beach.  That location is within Part 93 airspace but outside of Eglin Restricted airspace and the controlled airspace around airfields.  Please fill out the attached form and return to me and I will forward to the appropriate ATC facility for acknowledgement.  For this specific request, please operate outside of Restricted Airspace, Controlled Airspace, and Eglin property at 400 feet AGL and below.  If you desire to operate within 5 SM of one of the airfields in the future, please let me know and I will coordinate their requirements at that time.

  3. You do need to wait for a response (note “ATC is required”, you might be able to call ATC).

Unfortunately I am not a 24/7 office and I did not see your Request Form until this morning.  By the book, I or ATC is required to acknowledge your request to operate in the requested location.

  1. The MOA (practice area) that Seagrove / 30A is under is active on weekdays fro 6am to 9pm, and can be active on the weekends. We did see several fighters operating at 1,000+ feet, several military helicopters under 1,000 ft, a C-130 operating maybe half a mile out over the ocean, and a few other planes also over the ocean. I checked to make sure there were no NOTAMS / TFRs applicable for the time I was flying on Saturday (I didn’t see any, assuming I was searching the right place), and I flew around the time I said I was going to in the notice.
  2. I looked at the screen on the remote far less than I usually do, making sure to scan East and West to make sure there were no aircraft approaching. Thankfully, planes in this particular airspace must fly E->W or W-E, and being at the beach, visibility is easily 10+ miles each direction. No planes were active this early in the morning. We did, however, see a couple Ospreys around 9am flying extremely low right along the coast.

The process really was not hard at all.

If you are going to the area, be sure to submit the form in advance. My recommendation would be to do so at least a week in advance.

In case you don’t submit one in time, you can still fly a few miles away in Laguna Beach, East of 12th street, which is just outside of the Eglin-E MOA. You can grab a donut or ice cream from Thomas’ while you are there.

6 thoughts on “Flying a Drone (sUAS) at 30A in Florida”

  1. This is great info, thanks. Is this all that is needed for permission? Do you have to request anything from the FAA/Dronezone?

    1. This post was from a couple years ago, so assuming nothing changed, all you have to do is the usual step of checking NOTAMS/TFRs, and providing notice to the base via their form that you will be flying. That process could have changed in the past few years however.

    2. I just got back from another trip to the area, and was not able to fly because I did not contact the military far enough in advance. I have updated the post. You do have to wait for approval, filling out the form and waiting for a response is necessary.

    1. They did not. But, when I did this a couple years ago, the e-mail conversation happened over a couple of days.

      At least back then, it looks like all I had to do was submit notice, not get permission. The response I got from the “Airspace Manager” was:

      “You did effectively provide notice to the ATC facilities by submitting our request form and was able to operate.”

      My recommendation though would be to contact them a couple weeks in advance if you know you are going to be in that area to see if that procedure has changed.

  2. Thanks, I’ve been searching all over for this info. I live on 30a and hate learning that I have to submit a request each time I fly it. It makes capturing a spontaneous sunset out of the question.

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