With nothing better to do, like making sure personnel at airports stay awake, the FAA is targeting new regulations to crack down on Radio-Control pilots. Mind you, since 1965, only four Americans have been killed by out of control model aircraft. But why should facts interfere with the Nanny-State government spoiling everybody′s fun? The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing new regulations that would limit model aircraft to a maximum speed of 100 MPH, set a maximum altitude of only 400 feet, prohibit aircraft weighing more than 55 pounds and ban the use of jet engines. The FAA claims that this would not effect most of the R/C flying hobby, but I beg to differ.

radio control aircraft

The new rules would certainly impact the growing segment of high-performance model aircraft. Some of these true jet-powered machines can achieve speeds of 200 MPH or more. As well as those in the scale aircraft side of the hobby, who recreate everything from bombers to jet liners with meticulous detail. Many model aviation enthusiasts belong to the Quarter-Scale segment of the hobby, where reproductions of even smaller aircraft can easily exceed 55 pounds.

The 400 feet altitude restriction proposed by the FAA would really hurt much of the sport-flying community, especially those who build and fly gliders. Gliders, by nature, require plenty of altitude in order to get well above ground-related turbulence and to seek out the all-elusive thermals, patches of warm air that serve to give gliders extra lift. Even for Sunday-Flyers, the 400 feet rule would handicap a wide range of trainer aircraft, typically designed to be powered-gliders, using a small gas engine or electric motor to achieve a high altitude and permit novices to learn to fly. Such trainers usually have extra-long wingspans, like a glider, enabling the aircraft to remain aloft after the fuel or battery-powered flight ends. As every pilot knows, altitude is your friend. The more you have, the safer you are.

The reason for the FAA proposed regulations are to reclassify model aircraft into the same category as military-style drones or UAVs, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The Federal government has been looking into expanding the use of UAVs for civilian application, such as for police surveillance, border patrol, forestry and agriculture monitoring, as well as in assisting in searches for missing people. While drones are remotely operated, often from a distant ground station, model R/C aircraft are flown by people with a direct line-of-sight, rarely more than a half-mile away. Advances in R/C electronics do provide hobbyists with more capabilities, including on-board gyros for stabilizing and even performing pre-programmed stunts.

The FAA considering new regulations and restrictions on the Radio-Control model aircraft hobby is just the latest example of government time and resources being misspent. Since 1965, only four deaths have resulted from an out-of-control model airplane. Today′s aircraft and equipment are far more reliable and safer than ever before. Once again the Nanny-State government is attempting to impose its will and save us from an imaginary threat.

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