, Arizona

, United States

Posted on
2020-02-17 19:18:34
“To whom it may concern: As far back as I can remember I have been fascinated by flight. I began building and flying RC models at the age of twelve, which led me to the goal of becoming a private pilot. At the age of 18 I received my pilots license. Although aviation did not become my career choice, for the past 44 years I have enjoyed exploring the Western United States in my Cessna and countless hours flying the models I have built. Now in my retirement, I’m a volunteer, teaching aviation to Kindergarten through 12th grade as well as 4H STEM centered aviation classes focusing on aircraft modeling and design. My wish is to pass on my love and passion for flight to the youth in our rural community. I live in a very remote area of the southwest where I fly my radio controlled fixed wing airplane and helicopter models. My flying site is on a large ranch a long way from any people, or buildings. There is also no internet or cell services available in this area. The location is in general air space with the nearest controlled field being 140 miles away. The closest small uncontrolled airfield is 11 miles away and has only a few private aircraft arrivals and departures a month. The closest RC flying field is 146 miles away which is not a feasible option for me. I enjoy flying alone, seldom flying over 300 feet above ground level and always in my line of sight. I agree there is a need to track commercial and private autonomous UAS operations in a congested urban airspace, however, 80 plus years of aviation modeling history has proven that line of sight model flying is very safe and has contributed to an untold number of aviation careers. Therefore, I believe that line of sight model flying needs be exempt from the UAS identification rules. The proposed rules will end the model aviation hobby and clearly bring an end to any STEM aviation curriculum offered by schools involving the building and flying of radio controlled aircraft. The FAA has created multiple classifications for full scale aircraft, such as the experimental class, which has brought about an incredible amount of innovation in building techniques, materials and power plant designs. Why create a set of rules that lump the UAS community into one classification? WE ARE NOT! I believe trying to track UAS equipment in general airspace and rural areas will put an unnecessary burden on the FAA and local law enforcement. Also, people who safely fly their model aircraft, will not be a priority for any law enforcement agency to regulate. We should look into creating more model flying sites in densely populated areas instead of less. Maybe incorporating them into existing large community parks. Why group all various forms of RC aircraft into fewer sites? Doing so will only cause greater safety concerns? The hobbyist’s who use these sites will police themselves for fear of losing their flying site privileges. Certainly the commercial drone industry can circumvent these areas which will only be a few acres in size at best. Lastly, why would any government agency want to do away with a hobby and learning experience that creates so many positive results for young people and families? It truly makes no sense! People who love this hobby will teach and hold accountable those who fly unmanned aerial systems improperly. And those who may want to use a UAS for bad intentions will never be registered or tracked. To use an old euphemism, lets not throw out the baby with the bath water. We expect our government officials to be wiser than that. Respectfully Michael Johnson”