Do not say I did not warn you, because I did! The Federal Aviation Administration announced yesterday that all users of drones and radio-controlled model aircraft, from the ages of 13 up, must comply with the new drone registration. Hobbyists who intend to operate such aircraft weighing 0.55 pounds to 55 pounds must register their toys at the FAA website starting on December 21 and no later than February 19. There is a $5 registration fee for each aircraft and failure to do so can result in fines from $27,000 to $250,000 and 3 years in prison. The certification you will receive for your $5 is only good for 3 years. With Christmas sales of some 400,000 to 700,000 drone and R/C aircraft expected this holiday season, along with all those already purchased, the Obama administration can anticipate quite the windfall of fresh cash.
The FAA claims that the new rules are to tighten up safety issues caused by recent incidents of drones encountering ′full scale′ aircraft near airports. There are already previous laws on the books making it illegal to operate model aircraft near airports at altitudes of 400 feet or higher. Many of the toy drones being sold barely have a range of 100 feet, let alone 400. However, those hobbyists who build and fly ′true′ model aircraft can easily operate their at thousands of feet, riding those thermals across the sky.
Before my accident, turning me into a cripple, I was very active in radio-controlled aircraft as well as both model and high-powered sport rocketry. I could tell you all sorts of crazy stories! Of rockets doing the watusi after launch, streaking horizontally across a park sending soft ball players ducking for cover. Or the time one of my R/C airplanes had a control rod failure of its elevator tab, sending the gas-powered craft prop-first into the ground, burying itself half a foot into the dirt near a park bench complete with a sleeping homeless man. Oh, those were the days! As Dr. Tom Lear would say, ″Ven zee rocket goes up, I don′t care vare it cumz down. Zat′s not mein department sez Werner von Braun!″
So now Obama wants to spoil all of our fun! And just before Christmas, too! The new FAA rules for drone registration go into effect on Dec. 21. If you have a drone or an R/C model aircraft, you must shell out $5 for a certificate before Feb. 19 of next year. Next we′ll probably see Obama put a three-day waiting period after an FBI background check before you can purchase one. This is certainly a case of the Federal Aviation Administration looking for something to do since they have botched airport security in general. They should be more concerned with people using laser pens and such. There are far more incidents of pilots being blinded by lasers than with encountering drones and other flying models.