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Traveling in the USA with mini quads

FinalGlideAus

terrorizing squirrels
#1
Hey guys, just a quick question for the locals. I may be travelling around California rather soon for a short time with my mini quads. Anything I should aware of with regards to travelling with them while there. I know you guys live in a vastly different world to where I live and I want to be prepared. I don't think I'll be flying on any domestic planes besides the international flight at this stage so just road travel. Not much planned out yet lol :)
 

Cyberdactyl

Misfit Multirotor Monkey
#2
The TSA here (the low wage people who you will interface with at airport security points) may find the electronics suspect, and likely the first time they've seen a miltirotor and transmitter. They also may ask you to power them up. I would suggest having the props off of any of your quads just in case. I would also try and steer away from referring to them as "drones" and more of 'man toys'. There are a bunch of TSA do and don'ts you can find on the web regarding getting past the TSA with electronics.

Best of luck!
 

PHugger

Church Meal Expert
#3
I also read of some new restrictions on flying commercial (full scale) with LiPos.
Check with your international carrier.
Don't fly in any Federal Parks. Basically use common sense and you should be OK.


Best regards,
PCH
 

Edlang

Junior Member
#4
I've taken my quad to the US (from outside the country) and everything went fine. I put my transmitter in my backpack, the quad in the carry on, and everything went fine. At the airport, nobody even asked me to take the batteries, transmitter or quad out of their respective carrying places. There are some restrictions on batteries which the TSA posted online, which basically say that they cannot be extremely big (max. 160Wh), and that they must be protected from short-circuits (just put some electrical tape in the balance and discharge ports).
https://www.faa.gov/about/office_or...edia/faa_airline_passengers_and_batteries.pdf

If you are too lazy to do the math, here it is:
For a 3 cell, the max mAh you can have is 100/11.1 = 9.09 Ah, or 9,090 mAh

For a 4 cell, the max mAh you can have is 100/14.8 = 6.75 Ah, or 6,750 mAh

You should be fine battery-wise.

Once there, I flew everywhere. In Seattle downtown, San Francisco, Yosemite, and even in lake Tahoe. Everything went fine, only heard one complaint from another person, and it wasn't even directed towards me.

Happy flying!
Ed
 
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narcolepticltd

I unbuild stuff regularly
#5
Lipos will be more 'suspect' than the quads... but even then you shouldn't really get much of a hard time. If you're bringing several airframes, and won't be fitting them into carry on, make sure you have a nice expensive pelican case... I'd be more concerned with the baggage handlers.

I remember when I was doing the e-cig thing and was worried about having mods when travelling to Tokyo, and never even had a TSA or customs officer blink over the liquid, much less the lipos for those beasts (and this was prior to vaping becoming a popular thing).

LAX is the pit of hell though.

As for driving around, as long as you don't have the quads next to giant bags of cocaine it's business as usual.

If this wasn't the last week of my vacation I'd try and make it out to the west coast and have a beer with ya... have fun!
 
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#6
If you're going anywhere in Arizona I would love to meet you! You meeting up with ummagawd? I can't wait to see some of those vids
 
#7
Have fun... might have more trouble flying than you do traveling. I got into it with some locals in Pismo beach for flying a "camera drone" over their neighborhood. I was showing my nephew how to fly my phantom over a park. The police were called and the residents were more passed that the police officer was more interested in checking out the phantom than anything else.
 
#8
Maybe just ship them for the flight and set your self up with some simulators in case the planetary alignment enhances symptoms of temporary withdrawal. In general or comparison, the US is usually a bit more expansive than micro-enforcable. To agree with what sleepster said, unless your quads are entangled in a pile of illegal firearms or something like that...

If you were to drive in or out of CA there are state-line border check stations, but an RC rotor not in flight, I've never heard of being any issue, as of yet. I don't really pay a lot of attention to that though, as it seems many cases of multirotor enforcement would probably apply to a lot of other things in a similar situation... but I'm also pretty new and don't always have the extra memory or harddrive space to keep track of, kind of, less interesting aspects.


edit: besides, California is probably the closest US equivalent to Aus. CA, Hawaii, Aus. etc. is also a pretty common circuit for surfers traveling, so... that might be a resource for more info. A few pointers that may be of value or not, if you are going sooner, up till... when ever it might be, is the June Gloom or marine layer near the coast in mornings till mid day or so, on most days. (Just fly inland during this time to avoid that.) Also, winds are usually calm in the morning and kick in high on-shores by mid day/afternoon. Clearly having churned up my memory banks, might as well suggest something as ridiculous and vicarious as picking up a double espresso with a cup of ice, add sugar and soy to the hot espresso, then pour over ice from a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf... but beware of the long lines... I'm pretty sure that I'm kidding around at this point. Yeah, I guess 'have fun' is kind of obvious by now as well...
 
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FinalGlideAus

terrorizing squirrels
#9
Thanks for the info guys, I'll re-read it all again tonight but it seems like traveling with quads is not much different to Australia. If things line up and I end up going then I'll be heading to a mini quad race there at the state fair for the week and probably won't do much flying elsewhere as I won't have time. I'm hoping Ummagawd and Charpu will be there so looking forward to catching up with my fellow team pilots.

It's a pity I can wrangle some time to meet the Flitetest guys or go to Flitefest.

Much to organise, not much time...
 

narcolepticltd

I unbuild stuff regularly
#10
Thanks for the info guys, I'll re-read it all again tonight but it seems like traveling with quads is not much different to Australia. If things line up and I end up going then I'll be heading to a mini quad race there at the state fair for the week and probably won't do much flying elsewhere as I won't have time. I'm hoping Ummagawd and Charpu will be there so looking forward to catching up with my fellow team pilots.

It's a pity I can wrangle some time to meet the Flitetest guys or go to Flitefest.

Much to organise, not much time...
yeah one week will barely get you over jet lag and then it's time to go home.
 
#11
...barely enough time to wait in line for coffee. I only mentioned marine layer because I figured mornings, camera, overcast, and just 5 or 10 miles inland will often have clear skies. But, if you have a race (doh), it's probably already inland enough.

Yeah, I guess shipping might be more of a headache free option for more of a casual trip if someone didn't know what all the crazy restrictions might be. There seem to be plenty of bad stories with baggage claim, though, so keeping in mind what is carry on or not may be helpful as well.
 

narcolepticltd

I unbuild stuff regularly
#12
FGA, it's not like you have to pack your whole wardrobe... just stow your quad in your backpack/carry on with 2 pairs of pants and a few shirts :)

It's more of a pain dealing with trying to pack stuff like shampoo/shaving cream/toothpaste now with all the liquid restrictions they have... I just leave all that crap at home and buy what I need when I land.
 

RichB

Senior Member
#14
I've taken 4 commercial flights witha quad and transmitter in my carry-on baggage and have never experienced any hassles related to them.

The bag goes through the x-ray machine, the bag comes out, I pick it up and go on my way.
 

jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#15
Best advice I can give is not to put anything in your checked luggage unless you want to donate it to the TSA. Keep it in your carry on or ship it unless you want it to disappear.

Hope you have a good visit...how far south in CA are you going to make it? Sounds like you'll be up in the SF/Sacramento area? If you make it down to LA or points further south I'd try to wrangle time for a trip over to meet you in person.
 
#16
When and where is this mini Quad race??? I'm in southern California about 20 mins south from Downtown Los Angeles . I would love to make it out to that race even if it is up in San Fran that's only an 8 hour drive from me.
 
#18
Oh this looks exciting! Even NASA is on the sponsor list!

FinalGlideAus, hope you have a fun trip to the US. I cannot give you much advice about air travel with a quad because I have never done it. But I have flown from San Diego California to New Zealand (which is near your geographical region) before, and the 12+ hour flight is a killer! You'll actually gain some time coming to the US as you cross the international dateline, but you will lose a day going back, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to recover from the trip!
 
#19
I'm so going to this!!! Just have to decide if the VIP pass will be worth it... I just flew my 250 quad FPV for the first time this weekend you guys think I can be race ready in 43 days LOL...
 
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Cyberdactyl

Misfit Multirotor Monkey
#20
My city now has a mini mini racing club.

And that's great, as far as it goes. Lots of comradery and competition. Lots of sharing of setups.

My problem is the club puts heavy restrictions on the mini's during racing. Only 5" props or smaller. Only 2204 or smaller motors. Only 3S or smaller. So needless to say the playing field is about as flat as it can be made.

There needs to be an 'open class' level. So far there is none at the club. I think primarily because so many got swept up in the carbon fiber brick with tiny motors and 5" props that there's not enough other builds to even have a race of more than 2 multirotors.