Greetings all; I am new to this, so please excuse my naiveté.
I listened to the NPR (science friday) program and that is where i learned about DIY, and wish I had known about DIY sooner.
I have designed a program / project (starting soon) which involves using a UAS to map a wetlands / pothole area in rural Montana. The UAS is a 35 lb. airframe (Inst. suite loaded), the data link is a 2.4 GHz video downlink, 900 MHz 2-way modem set up for fully autonomous flight (capability) including launch and landing mission plan created with Cloud Cap Piccolo Command Center ground station software.
I have followed several paths to getting FAA info, and I cannot get any answers from any of the FAA people in MT. (one guy said to fly it, and if someone says something to just plea stupid).
What and where can I find out about FAA / FCC regulations? can I fly at 700 ft.without having to worry about FAA? Montana allows for great UAS operation with our wide open space and low population (6.2 people per mile-last census).
I guess to state the research implications of this, to this group, would be like telling kids Christmas is fun.
any assistance, or ideas would be greatly recieved.
I would go with the unnamed FAA person.
Basically, the FAA doesn't care about recreational flight as long as you follow the FAA Advisory Circular 91-57 (pdf attached).
Commercial use (specifically "for hire"), however, opens up a whole new can of worms. Back in the early 20th Century, the FAA was given all jurisdiction of commercial use of the NAS. So, according to the FAA, if you are flying for hire then you need a commercial pilots license and the aircraft has to be certificated . But the problem that you're finding is that there is no pilot licensing or aircraft certification path within the FAA for UAV's. There are no rules that say that you can fly your UAV, but there's no rules that say you can't, either.
You probably only have to worry if your UAV crashes and causes damage or injury. Then the FAA has no choice but to be involved.