, Murrieta

, California

, United States

Posted on
2020-02-22 13:48:09
“I’m 66 years old and started flying RC when I turned 60 so I would have something I could share with my grandkids. This was also something I had wanted to do since I was a child but couldn’t afford it back then. Since starting, I have become an avid hobbyist flying 4 to 5 days per week. I fly mostly at two club sites each within 30 minutes of my home but I also fly at a local large empty lot near my home. I mostly fly fixed wing and helis. My largest airplane is a gas powered Extra with a 91 inch wing span. I value the friendships I have developed flying model aircraft and love teaching people (particularly youth) how to fly safely. In general I have found that people who are involved in the remote control airplane hobby are very nice people and care about one another. I am the Secretary and on the Board of one of my clubs and I also manage their website. I also am on the aviation advisory board for a local charter school that serves underprivileged youth with the goal of encouraging them to pursue aviation related jobs as an opportunity to better their circumstances. For years, the RC flying community has operated safely with very few people outside the hobby even aware that we existed. When I tell people I fly model aircraft, they are often surprised at the size and sophistication of my models. It takes quite a bit of skill to fly one of my airplanes and it took me months and a lot of simulator practice before I began to feel comfortable doing it. Fortunately or unfortunately, drone technology/computer technology has made it possible for virtually anyone to fly a multi-rotor aircraft with little or no training. This is because the onboard computer is actually flying the “drone” and the human pilot is merely telling the computer what to do. This is very different from the type of flying I do which requires active manual control or my plane or heli which are not capable of flying autonomously. Although I am retired and somewhat dependent upon fixed income, I am willing to pay a reasonably small amount of cost to comply with the proposed FAA regulations if it is required. I have a number of concerns however- The cost for newcomers into the hobby is already a concern due to the challenges and crashed involved in learning to fly. This is often prohibitive for youth unless they have an adult sponsor like a parent, etc. Club flying sites are constantly being threatened or required to shutdown and move due to the growing community. Available property is limited and installing a paved runway and pit area is very expensive and beyond the resources of many clubs which may have less than a hundred members Both club flying sites that I currently use will be probably be shutdown withing the next 24 months and we are currently exploring options for new locations. The remote ID requirement could have a chilling effect on the manufacturers and suppliers that serve the RC community due to the inability to comply with the remote ID requirements. Adding the cost of remote ID technology to aircraft that are already relatively expensive for retirees and youth will likely destroy demand and cause these companies to leave the industry. The cost per aircraft is also a concern. I have approximately 20 aircraft of various sizes from 14 inch wing span up to nearly 8 feet. Some of these I rarely fly but I will on occasion. I usually fly 3 to 5 on a regular (daily) basis. Many RC flyers I know design their own aircraft on a shoestring budget crafting their own out of balsa wood, foam board, cardboard and corrugated plastic. They get much joy out of this at a cost that can be less than $50 per plane. Many people who have played a key role in the development of aircraft (Burt Rutan for example) started out in the RC industry. A number of my fellow RCers are commercial airline pilots. I am concerned that the remote ID requirements will stifle these types of what I regard as healthy and positive activities. I understand what the FAA would like to do and why it might be needed. Ideally, if a drone is flying nearby, it would be highly desirable if it was easy to identify who it belonged to and where the pilot is located. My major concern is the cost and complexity of such technology and the impact it may have on available flying sites. If the cost of this technology were reasonably low (e.g. $5 to $10 per plane) then I could see how that might be acceptable. Another idea would be to raise the weight limit for small aircraft to be exempt. Unfortunately, I am not very informed about remote ID technology so it is hard for me to make a proposal in that regard. The fact that most RC pilots carry a smart phone with them when they fly seems like it might provide some possibilities.”