, Illinois

, United States

Posted on
2020-02-26 23:29:25
“I’ve been involved with model and full scale aviation for fifty years. My particular areas involve model gliders and sailplanes, with wingspans between 2 meters and four meters. I love feeling like I’m a part of the sky flying as the buzzards and hawks do. it takes me out of my daily cares and gives me peace and fulfillment. But let me put it another way… Thermal soaring models gives me the same thrills and pleasures as fly fishermen get from stalking a wily trout or bass but the difference is, the fisherman has a LOT more freedom in where he or she can enjoy their pastime, even while they pay for fishing licenses, and my ability to enjoy my pastime keeps dwindling, as loss of flying spaces makes it so I have to drive farther and farther ( hours) to find a club field or open space to fly in a responsible manner. Sailplanes are typically flown on flat rural lands, far from airports, to altitudes of 500 to a thousand feet, always in direct line-of-sight view, in areas where cell phone coverage and internet access are spotty at best, so I would support a system where I use a web site or app to communicate my location and intentions from home as I go out the door to fly, versus using a radio system that connects in realtime and locks up if it can’t get a signal. Rural broadband access is still quite primitive in much of the heartland, and folks in prime flying country here are often still on dialup or slow satellite internet.. Model sailplanes are also flown along hills and cliffs or ridges using wind deflecting uphill, allowing silent, relaxing flights of an hour or more. The proposed “box” created by geofencing our radio control systems would be pretty restrictive to this kind of flying, making it very impractical if not impossible, so I would ask that some flexibility in the specifications for geofencing be considered, depending on the type of model and manner it is flown. I think geofencing and internet ID broadcasting and such do make a lot of sense for commercial and professional usage of things like photographic drones, but it doesn’t seem like the right-size solution for recreational flight of home-made gliders of styrofoam and balsa-wood in the 3 to 5-pound range, spiraling around a random rural soybean field on a hot Saturday afternoon. I’m deeply concerned that suitable flying sites have already been dwindling due to land development pressures and regulation already limiting where I can fly. Every spring it seems another once-vacant space has been built-over, closed-off. Model clubs are a bulwark against this but they are few and getting fewer, and they can’t stand up to developer land pressures without extensive funding. I don’t mind flying at clubs or in designated or specially mandated zones, where such are available, but I’m deeply troubled that the proposed rule in current form won’t allow for the creation of any NEW zones like this. My rivers and lakes are drying up, in fisherman terms, so to speak. Imagine if the fisherman could only fish at one particular pet store, three towns over, and only by appointment! I’d like to encourage the rule-making body to re-visit that aspect, and allow for new designated spots to be created, thru a straightforward process so we can fly in a cooperative, law-abiding way and continue the hobby that we enjoy so much. Shrinking the legal flying sites, without offering new and alternative sites, and an easy, flexible process for creating temporary sites for education and competition events – will likely tend to promote scofflaws who won’t cooperate with a too-complex, expensive or onerous process, and create a much larger administrative problem than a more flexible process that’s easy and inexpensive to comply with. The model aviation community has had a very long history of close cooperation with the Government thru the Academy of Model Aeronautics since the 1930’s. Model aviation hobbyists have been self-policing in cooperation with FAA and the FCC for generations and have a desire and proven commitment to collaborating with government regulations for decades, and I think that, working together, we can continue that wonderful partnership and forge rules that serve the national interest while still accommodating the many varied facets of our hobby.”