Airspace Part 1

Let’s practice with the MBS Airspace. It has a five mile perimeter around the Midland, Bay City, Saginaw International Airport. This airspace is a type of controlled airspace called “Class D.” It extends from the surface up to 2500 feet above the ground. Any and all aircraft must have FAA Authorization to enter and operate in this airspace… including drones. This may feel a little restrictive and I suppose it should. We are talking about the safety and security of the National Airspace and that airspace is everything from the ground up… everywhere. Some of it is controlled, some of it not. In uncontrolled airspace we do not need permission to fly our drones. Inside controlled airspace, we do.

How to get authorization.

If you are a private pilot, you use the radio in your aircraft to speak with the control tower to get authorization to fly in the airspace. If you are flying your drone, you apply for authorization online… through a website. The nearly instant approval you receive is called a LAANC (Pronounced Lance). This is important so please read this carefully. The only way to get approval to fly our drones in this airspace is to use the LAANC System. The control tower cannot give that permission to drone operators. Don’t call the tower. Use the LAANC system.

Getting a LAANC

LAANC stands for “Low Altitude Authorization & Notification Capability. (Gotta love an FAA Acronym!) To get a LAANC, that website address is It is an extremely easy process and, as I said, the approval is nearly instant. (You will need to set up an account with them.)

Once your LAANC is approved three things happen. 1) You will see the approval on your computer screen, 2) You will get a text message and 3) an email. Another cool feature about using this website is that you will be able to see all of the prior approvals you have been given. I print these out and carry them with me when I fly. I have been asked by law enforcement about my operation and I was glad I had my LAANC with me.

There are different altitudes we can get this automatic authorization for depending on how far from the airport. To see the MBS Airspace and the various flight levels, click this link.

Remember outside the MBS Airspace we can fly our drones anywhere but we are never permitted to fly our drones above 400 feet.

Next week I will go into a little more detail about the MBS airspace with images… it’s pretty interesting!







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