Making enhancements to the Special Rule for Model Aircraft into law

The AMA began its work to pass the Special Rule for Model Aircraft years before it was passed into law in 2012. Countless negotiations, revisions, and eventually mobilizing our membership to write Congress resulted in this special rule becoming law. The Special Rule for Model Aircraft was intended to prevent model aviation within a community-based organization like the AMA from overreaching and burdensome regulation.

Today we continue our work to strengthen and protect the Special Rule for Model Aircraft. We are very early in this process as early drafts will receive numerous revisions and amendments, just as we experienced with the original special rule.

In an effort to help visualize the process, below is a graphic that demonstrates the legislative process and AMA’s ongoing efforts.

Currently we are only in the first leg of this journey as proposed language is in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee. Thank you for your support as we begin this long task.



  1. So the Senate version establishes a 400 foot altitude cap, requires a test, and permission to fly within 5 miles of an airport. Looks like we are going backwards!!!!

    1. Hi Bill, based on your text, you are most likely referring to staff working draft of the Senate bill. We are still very early in this process as the bill will go through multiple revisions and amendments.

      1. “RULE 336” was our foundation to fight against these unnecessary regulations. If we allow them to start “tweaking” this section, our hobby is done for.

      2. Yes, that is what I am talking about. It is a shocking step in the wrong direction and it is worrisome that the Senate decided to go in that direction.

      3. You guys are kidding right? The model rule has already been stripped completely. Its worthless. There is no longer a model exemption under this deaft at all. They added the word “ONLY” to the wording. Which means they can now pass absolutely any rule or regulation they wish so long as applies to all suas and not just models. They eviscerated the 336 exemption.

        I will not stay below 400ft. I guess that means i fly till they throw me in a prison cell.

        1. This whole fiasco demonstrates how useless the AMA is for representing the interests of model aviators. They are complicit in this criminal overreach of our bloated Federal government. Months ago, the AMA talking heads were gleefully bragging about how they were trying to get permission to use our AMA membership number as our registration number.
          They should have fought this stupidity tooth and nail but instead, their only accomplishment during the last six months was the conversion of oxygen to carbon dioxide.
          If you want to make a real difference, don’t ever pay the AMA another penny in dues. I will do my flying off the grid from here on out when my ill gotten dues run out December 31.

          1. I’m tired of people criticizing the AMA and saying how useless they are. If it weren’t for the AMA the FAA would have outlawed ALL model flying in December and we would all now be putting our models in black plastic bags to give to the trash collector. When you are dealing with an organization like the U.S. government, you have to expect opposition and long delays. The WORST

        2. Chris;
          Looks like you and I might be cell mates. Like you I’m not happy about the stupidness of this fiasco and I feel like when it’s over we lose. We are defiantly getting the stinky end of the stick in a place designed for output. I’m going to continue to fly my stuff the way I have for the last fifty years, 400 feet plus if I want. I’m not hurting anybody. I hope I’m wrong.

      4. Where was AMA representation during the draft composition process?
        You can not spin bad regardless how hard you try. Where is there ANY positive language for RC modelers and AMA members in this draft?

        The retail lobbyists stopped Point of Sale registration of commercial drones AKA Phantoms, etc, which was to be in effect before the Holiday shopping season. Where was AMA condemnation of THAT? It is these commercial ‘drones’ causing the FAA problems to begin with and all that has been done so far targets the benign hobbyists!

        So far two strikes guys, it does not look well nor bode well for the AMA.

        Give us something to cheer about already. Being relegated to flying only at AMA sites is not and will not be acceptable.

      5. I think that we should all just chill out and wait to see how these bills progress. As Chad said, they are both preliminary and a lot of changes will be made to them before they come up for voting. In the mean time, I’m sure that the AMA representatives will be working hard to try to get the best deal for us.

        We all need to support the AMA and the work that they are doing. It’s not easy working with government agencies. If it weren’t for the AMA and the work that they’ve done so far, it’s likely that the FAA would have shut down all model flying last year and that would have been the end of it for all of us.

        The last thing that we need now is people running their mouths about how worthless the AMA is and boasting about how they intend to fly what they want, when they want, wherever they want and in whatever manner they want. I’m sure that FAA people read these blogs and forums, and statements like these only add fuel to their fire. If you don’t like the AMA and you don’t intend to follow the law, they maybe you should resign your membership and not mess up things for those of us who intend to fly safely and legally.

    2. At my club the local full scale tower has rescinded our LOA. And we have to ask the tower to fly everytime we go out. They are going backwards and making the hobby not fun…

      1. Craig. Has your club contacted AMA HQ about this situation??? Several clubs have benefited recently by doing so!!

      2. Craig, give us a call at 765-287-1256 x230. As Edwin indicated, we have helped other clubs in similar situations.

        1. Hi Chad,

          Who would be the right people to contact in order to cancel my membership with the AMA?

          Since this organization is actively working against my interests I have no desire to be associated with this organization any longer.

          1. For many years we were able to fly without any issues, but for the last few years we have been fighting continual battles to protect our hobby.

            This Senate bill is just one of many issues we are working to resolve. This is a very lengthy process as the bill will go through multiple revisions, amendments, votes, and another committee and floor vote before being signed into law. We cannot control what the Federal Government mandates or proposes, but we will continue to address overbearing regulations. We have made positive strides including an amendment exempting AMA members from the proposed 400′ altitude limit (should that proposed bill even make it to vote).

            Within the past couple weeks we addressed local ordinances and policies that would have grounded model aircraft in FL, CA, RI, UT, and other states. Also this week we’ve had face to face meetings with the FAA, key Legislators on Capitol Hill, and legal advisers and policy writers for the United States Air Force to address our hobby and our members’ concerns. Often we are the only voice representing the hobby community and we need all the support we can get. We are sorry to hear that you do not support efforts to protect the hobby and hope you reconsider. If you choose to not support our efforts and do not want to fly under our Community-Based-Organization model, you may call 1-800-435-9262.

          2. Chad,

            That is great news you’ve addressed those state’s issues, and incremental updates like that very appreciated. Addressing is one side, have these been successful or have these states implemented bans despite AMA objection? When will the AMA file suit for federal injunctions against such bans based on the ‘pursuit of happiness clause’ as certain demographic groups successfully done in recent history?

          3. We did resolve and remove many of these ordinances. Some proposed ordinances were passed into law, but included community-based-organization exemptions based on the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.

            We have a petition in place with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. This situation does not meet the criteria for an injunction.

    3. The weakness of the AMA is demonstrated weekly.(pun) This a hobby that hundreds of thousands do and we can’t even get protection from the premier defender of the sport. Now we got the CA Audubon Society tapping the Ca assembly to write prohibitions for flying on all public lands. Because… Birds! Frickin’birds. OBTW I have been an Audubon Society member for years!
      Until yesterday.
      When will the drone hysteria end? Does a drone have to save a sea otter or Rihanna from danger?
      Cats are the biggest to again wildlife!

      1. Wow, really!? The next thing you know, the Audubon Society will asking for prohibitions against all aircraft flying over all public lands! I fly at a Santa Clara County Regional Park in CA where the hawks, kites, ducks, geese, eagles, sparrows, swallows, etc. regularly share the flying space with us without any problem — they are used to the model aircraft.

        1. Guys what is important is that the AMA did just celebrate the FAA making stricter rules on what qualifies as a Community Based Organization!! This is very important step to making them have no other competition. I’m Sure just like before the AMA is also lobbying hard to make sure you will have to join or go to one of their fields to get your stuff inspected or for everyone to take a test.

          So give them a break! They are doing their best to make sure YOUR money is being used to make them some.

          Crony Capitalism at it’s best!!

    4. If a hard 400 foot ceiling is established it will virtually eliminate thermal soaring and related activities. Most of us don’t have a slope for our sailplanes. It won’t help very large aircraft either.

    5. I am with you I live just pass 3 miles from the airport. Never had a close call now I have to call the tower. There just say no. Now my runway and wind sock will just go back to nature what a waste time and money.

    6. It is to late the government smells money, 180, AMA members and maybe 20, non members, do the math a $5 registration going to $20 plus any charter club dues, do the math and it’s clear why the government wants this.

    7. What is this language…. AMA….
      “If needed ”
      ” suggest ”
      We have no ground to stand on. Even AMA knows the house will do what they want and when they want….. BS….

    8. We need to get us back to 3 miles from a airport not this 5 mile rule. For 40 years we have had no problem with the AMA 3 mile rule. Please AMA fight for us and get this passed.

    9. We already have a law on the books protecting us just like everyone is pointing out . Why are you not using this ? Rule 336 . Its time to stop talking and time to start suing the FAA . Why dont you start a vote and ask US what WE want . This isn’t about you or what the AMA wants because without us the AMA does not exist .

      1. The Senate version of the FAA re-authorization act repeals Special Rule 336 and all of the protections that it offered modelers.

  2. Two parts of the Senate version that are very concerning. It looks as though there is a effort to end model aviation as we have know it in this country. I have been optomistic that congress would make things right but I now feel the end may be nearer than some believe.

    ‘‘(6) the aircraft is flown from the surface to not more than 400 feet in altitude; and

    ‘(7) the operator has passed an aeronautical knowledge and safety test administered by the Federal Aviation Administration online for the operation of unmanned aircraft systems subject to the requirements of section 44809 and maintains proof of test passage to be made available to the Administrator or law enforcement upon request.

    1. J.R., the text you are referencing is from a “staff working draft” of the Senate Bill and is not final bill language.

      1. I’ve seen many times words alluding to the fact that our members know the rules and regulations with respect to operating in the national airspace, so what’s the big deal about proving it?

        1. Have you ever taken an FAA examination? They are exceptionally detailed and often contain material from other sources than the area you expect. For instance, the Instrument Pilot exam contained substantial amounts of material from the Commercial Pilot exam when I took it. The big deal is that the FAA will likely ask us to demonstrate how we calculate weight and balance in our models, as well as other materials, such as how we know the limits of fuel in our models, or what type certification might exist for commercially available models. Such questions are not really relevant to safe operation of models, inasmuch as we usually determine operating conditions empirically.

          1. Have taken plenty of FAA and military aviation tests. I have zero issue with it.

          2. Having to pass an FAA exam is a sure way to reduce the number of people fly model aircraft. I know a lot of college students who struggled to pass the FAA Private Pilot exam. A lot of people who currently fly model aircraft are not the best at learning from books and taking tests. Should they be barred from flying a model because of this, or will they have to spend a couple hundred dollars to take a “Pass the FAA Drone Pilot Exam” course. This goes beyond ridiculous.

          3. Compounding the absurdity of this rule is that a “hobbyist” eg. a 17 year old kid can fly and photograph from a Quad virtually without restraint and use the photos for any purpose – this is not considered a “commercial” use. Realtors, however are subject to the same restrictions in flying but if we use the photos of a home for sale (taken with the owner & neighbor’s permission and release”) that is considered a “commercial” application. Because of this “commercial” designation – which has absolutely NOTHING to do with the actual flight itself but rather the disposition of the photos produced, we are required to have an actual pilot’s license the same as if we’re flying a regular aircraft – but the hobbyist is not subject to the same requirement. Even if we accept no compensation for the photos, joined the AMA, taken flying lessons and have a substantial investment in our equipment, our requirements are more restrictive than a kid with any type UAV taking photos of whatever, without permission and doing whatever he wants with them.

          4. You are assuming that the FAA exam that is mentioned is going to be the same type exam as one taken by a person to get their pilot’s license. The test for model flyers may only be one to insure that the prospective flyer knows the proper safety rules, especially ones that have to do with flying around airports and full scale aircraft. Let’s not panic until we know the final outcome of all this.

        2. I help administer a volunteer training program at my local club. Already, we have to tell a new person who is interested in learning model aviation to go join the AMA, join our club, register with the FAA, buy an airplane setup, then come back to start learning.

          We will lose even more interested people if we tell them they also have to go take an aeronautics knowledge test.

          This whole registration debacle will look like a walk in the park if they end up requiring a knowledge test for RC modelers.

          1. Just one more way to make the law abiding guy into a criminal. Say – this would be a federal offense, wouldn’t it? Guess they’ll confiscate your guns if you don’t register or take the tests…

      2. Chad, you have said it is a “working draft” as we have seen with the drone registration the A.M.A. is a weak group. As such a working draft might as well be the final draft. And it shows what intentions they want to come out of this…

      3. The simple fact that such language is even IN the “staff working draft” is full proof that AMA is NOT effective in protecting us from government in any way at all.

        This line: (7) the operator has passed an aeronautical knowledge and safety test administered by the Federal Aviation Administration online …

        I’ve been flying models since 1955 – and never even one minor incident in all that time. What member of Congress knows as much as I know about setting-up, safety checking, flying model aircraft? Which FAA administrator has such knowledge to design such a test?

        I’ve taken government tests – 22 years of them. I don’t need to know the structural limits of a 747 main wing spar to fly my 69″ plane. I have no need to show the government how to “properly” calculate weight and balance on a plane that’s been flying just fine for 40 years, or how to calculate fuel reserves. This is very likely the direction of any such test.

        No, this is not AMA representing me. This is a HOBBY, not a career. It’s also the end of that hobby.

        I’m sorry to see it go.

        AMA either IS or IS NOT going to protect us. In what I’m seeing so far, the evidence says we have NO protection. As such, this year I waited 2 months into 2016 to renew because of my doubts. This may be the last year. Why should I throw good money after bad to support an organization that is simply “going along with the crowd”?

      4. Yeah, but it puts dumb/wrong ideas in the stupid minds of the politicians!

  3. Chad,

    I just want to express my gratitude for the AMA for fighting the fight for us but also want to express my concern that the items in the “staff working draft” are unacceptable. We absolutely must ensure those items don’t come into law.

  4. I know this is a working draft, but I’ve already alerted my senators to understand and really consider the language in the bill as it evolves. I had mentioned that our charter has already lost members due to registration, touted our impeccable safety record nationally and locally, to please listen to the AMA and their recommendations and how our club contributes to our community. Hopefully AMA will assist in working language in which protects our fields from the gross FAA overreach. It still seems like the government doesn’t understand the difference between traditional ‘line-of-sight’ model aircraft and “drones”. I would think if the regs hit sUAS that were not line of sight such as the so called “Drones”, with a definition that states somewhere how a drone can operate without direct operator input (GPS & geofenced control, return to home). Hopefully for our sake, AMA can get members and chartered fields exempt from FAA control as part of a CBO. Good luck AMA, we wish you the best. Thanks.

  5. The draft of the Senate bill can be found at

    The section on unmanned aircraft systems begins on page 52, with the section on model aircraft beginning on page 85. The parts J. R. pointed out as being very concerning start on page 86, with further information on the test we will have to take found on page 90.

    Chad, can you assure us that the AMA is working to remove the test requirement from the bill?

    1. Hi Dan,

      We continue to be engaged daily with the Senate Commerce Committee including Chairman Thune. The bill’s language will change and has changed prior to this release – for example we have already successfully advocated against earlier bill language that prohibited technological features like auto stabilization and will continue our efforts to protect the hobby.

      The link you provided is a “staff draft” and will undergo multiple revisions. We are still very early in this process.

      1. Hi Chad,

        I appreciate that the AMA is engaged daily on this issue. Does that engagement include, specifically, efforts to remove the test requirement?

        Thank you

      2. I would have preferred to have seen the 400 foot altitude cap and test requirements to die before the auto stabilization. Auto stabilization does not threaten our hobby to the same extent as a 400 foot cap or testing does.

        One big question still on my mind is was the AMA surprised by these two provisions, or did you see them coming??

        1. Bill Malvey-“I would have preferred to have seen the 400 foot altitude cap and test requirements to die before the auto stabilization. Auto stabilization does not threaten our hobby to the same extent as a 400 foot cap or testing does.” I couldn’t agree more! I understand the tremendous interest in sUAV’s being stoked by technology, but if auto-stabilization equates to an easy means to weaponize our aircraft in the minds of our leaders, then such technology should be considered a bargaining chip to be sacrificed given our safety record to date has most assuredly been built without it.

          1. We are working to exempt AMA from the 400′ altitude limit along with other elements listed in the bill. The auto stabilization removal was not a higher priority, I simply mentioned it to demonstrate that a bill’s language changes frequently. This is a long process and the bill’s language is still only in the committee.

          2. Chad – Are you working to exempt AMA from the testing requirement in the bill?

          3. AMA is working through the process and will continue to push through amendments and revisions. I will share more as soon as I have details.

          4. Chad,
            Thank you for your continued efforts. I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to fly thermal duration again in the near future. What are AMA’s plans for the thermal duration contests this summer in Muncie, etc… where surely RC pilots will exceed the 400’ elevation?

          5. We have made progress to improving the Senate proposed bill by pushing through an amendment to exempt AMA members from the 400′ altitude limit after engaging the leadership of the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee. There is still room for improvement and we will continue advocate additional amendments and revisions. Read more at

      3. I am fairly new to the AMA and joined because it was a prerequisite of the club. Since the FAA rule was announced, we have heard a lot of “we are working the issue”, “it is a long process”, “be patient”, “that is a staff members draft”,and “we will share when we have more information”.

        By waiting, and being patient, we have ended up by having to register with the FAA, pay another “fee”, and now our data we provided to the Government is open to public disclosure. I am totally disillusioned with the AMA. We pay for club membership, AMA membership, FAA registration, and now we get to watch a great hobby be torn apart by lobbyists and people who do not know the difference between a drone (RPQ-1), a quadcopter, and a model aircraft.

        Recent testimony to Congress pointed out that the U.S. Military has been flying real drone missions in U.S. airspace. A USA front pager for one day and then the discussion disappeared. There are a number of Air National Guard Bases, Air Force Bases and Air Force Reserve Bases being realigned to fly drones (real military drones that are used in military operations today).

        The problem with the use of the term “drone” is that the media, and politicians, have taken it to mean anything from a hand-sized copter to a fixed-wing model aircraft.

        It is time to write all of our Senators and Representatives and tell them what is being done to the hobby by the over-reach of the FAA and its blatant disregard for Section 336.

        Remember, we are dealing with a Congress that said “you have to pass it before you can read it”. The same people who have passed a number of onerous laws over the last ten years. Most Senators and Representatives rely on these same “staffers” to provide them with the information on whether or not they should vote for or against a bill.

        Sadly, it looks like the AMA is being sucked into the process also.

        1. Isn’t this exciting – waiting and wondering what tiny little box of “freedom” we’re going to be squeezed into when all the verbiage and balsa dust has settled?
          Have you looked thru the commercialized tabloid titled Model Aviation of late? In between the mind-numbingly numerous reviews of all the toy (ARF) offerings that lazy folks can purchase, are pages and pages of multi-rotor ads. The whole damned rag has turned into a toy catalog – and THAT means MONEY. Nothing wrong with money – I wish I had more of it. But find a publication from another realm that has so damned many ads pushing multi-rotors! I challenge you.
          A year and a half – maybe two years ago – I was writing AMA to say I thought it was a mistake for “MODEL aviation” to embrace the remote-controlled toys referred to as drones. I thought that with the growing number of “incidents” with these airborne devices and the looming stigma that was sure to develop, the AMA would really be wise to distance themselves from them altogether. Let those “enthusiasts” develop their own niche and grow a representative organization out of it. Of course, the LURE of all that ad revenue and the intoxicant of millions of prospective, new AMA members was/is just TOO tempting. The time or two I got a reply, they were polite brush-offs. Not surprising.
          Well, as one might expect, the FAA started to lift it’s sleepy head to address these dangerous drones. So let’s see…. where IS the focal point of this emerging fad? OH look! They’re being taken under the wing of those other toy flying sorts – the AMA. Well, we better have a look-see about them! And since a remote-controlled flying thing is just that, let’s cover our administration’s collective asses by registering their membership and defining WHAT they may fly and HOW and WHEN they might fly it. Yeah – gotta look good when some innocent kid flies his birthday present multi-rotor into a 737’s engine.
          And… when such an incident does take place – it won’t matter whether the kid had ever even HEARD of the AMA – or took time to read the tiny, little “Know before you fly” badge on the corner of the drone packaging – the FAA will come calling – AGAIN. And let’s face it – they really don’t have a choice. But the “agency” that DID HAVE A CHOICE – a choice whether or not to be “home base” for multi-rotor fun, will be the end recipient of whatever “actions” the FAA decides to mete out. And with Congress’ favorite dinner for it’s constituents – a big plate of FEAR – it’s not modelling liberty were likely to be treated to.

          1. Bob Kay, Your comments about the multirotors/”drones” reminds me of the disdain some flyers had when the electric planes started on the scene. They are now a major part of the hobby. You can and also buy them,(as well as glow, gas, etc..Models) RTF and as able to cause mayhem if used improperly as a multirotor. BTW, Have you read the article where it was figured out that statistically the chance of a “drone” causing injury or damage is 1 in 187,000,000 years?
            As to your point of Model Aviation selling out to the “drones” that again is just unjustified. I see no more advertising in the magazine than at any other time, and it just happens that Multirotors are popular right now so suppliers (most of whom have also been advertising other products for years), are now showing these new products.

            The FAA did not”lift it’s sleepy head” because MA is advertising new product, if anything it was more likely wall street and business journals making predictions about the huge expected sales market for the holiday season.
            FAA’s “incident reports” have been debunked as pure BS, and the latest statistics further bear that out.

            While bashing the AMA folks, please remember that it was the persistence of our reps that got a favorable bill passed in Congress. The Senate is only starting it’s part. Hopefully we can expect similar outcome there as well. We will deal with “proposed language” by working through the process. It is a something that is a lumbering beast and we can’t expect it overnight. It is politics as usual, and we have to go through the process (which is their process, not the AMA’s) at the pace it allows. Have faith, the sky is not falling….. yet.

  6. When the AMA participated in last year’s registration fact-finding discussions they bragged that they were “in the know. “Don’t worry, we are here for YOU, the modellers.” Yet, they were then completely blindsided by the resultant registration fiasco and the takeover of our beloved hobby by the FAA. NOW Chad, you are saying exactly the same thing about this proposed revision. “Have faith in the AMA–We will see that you are protected.” We’ve been down this road before and were sucker-ambushed. The stakes are even higher now with a revised law that could change everything. Stop the double-talk promoted by your organization and get real. The future of our hobby is seriously at stake. (We’re the ones still having to click on “Registering your Drone,” etc..) If the proposals are adverse to our position, the passed law may well reflect those proposals. Protect us, Fight for us, Go the Max for us, and quit the administrative double talk.

  7. I fail to understand why a 400 foot cap or a test on airspace rules threaten the hobby. I’m not aware of any laws of physics make it impossible to fly models below the cap.

    1. There are a number of reasons that the 400 ft cap does not make sense. First, when training new pilots, or when flying a larger model for the first time, it is in the interest of safety to fly at a high altitude to allow recovery from unanticipated attitudes (“dumb thumbs”) or other issues such as flame-outs, and so forth. Second, thermals do not usually develop to any major extent for flying sailplanes, especially in longer duration contests and completion of League of Silent Flight tasks. Third, large models, such as those flown for IMAAC competition, require a fairly large swath of sky to complete their maneuvers. Fourth, free-flight models often are taken to high altitudes by rising air currents before dethermalizing, and there would be no way to prevent this other than banning the sport. There are many other examples why a 400 foot ceiling does not make sense. The AMA leadership recognizes all of these and has always been protective of our wonderful hobby/sport.

      1. As for “dumb thumbs”, if they’re having that much difficulty at 400 feet, then I argue they shouldn’t be flying. As for thermals, what’s driving the “need” is the “want” of a particular type of competition (long duration). Why not just fly a different type of event? Similarly, the IMAAC “need” for a large swath of airspace is driven by the “want” to fly large planes. Why not just fly smaller aircraft? A 48 wingspan aircraft at 400 feet cuts the same visual arc as a 122 inch wingspan aircraft at 1000 feet; and a 68 inch wingspan at 400 feet is the same visual angle as a 178 inch aircraft at 1000. Lastly, we already transducers that feed altitude into telemetry systems, how about switching technology of dethermalizers from time to air pressure? Again, the “need” is driven by a “want” – in this case to do it the way they’ve always done it.

        1. Wow. Obviously someone who’s never enjoyed the feeling, freedom, and challenge of sailplanes. Not just for competition, but for pleasure.

          Let’s take this to the extreme of your argument — let’s say the FAA banned ALL RC hobby aircraft — not too far-fetched from the direction this is going. OK, the response is, you can still fly control-line planes…you don’t NEED to fly RC planes, you only WANT to fly RC. Would you be happy with U-control?

          The point is that all these regulations aren’t to make the airspace safer, they’re SUPPOSED TO

          1. [sorry, aborted my reply early]

            SUPPOSED TO safeguard from idiots and terrorists, who won’t bother to register themselves or their aircraft. The only ones affected will be the law-abiding modelers.

          2. I actually enjoy Control Line quite a lot. Have a .25 size and a .40 size that are quite fun.

            If the FAA bans all hobby aircraft, then I’ll just get licensed and fly under their exemption program.

          3. This hobby isn’t just about your personal enjoyment. It really is the foundation of interest in aviation for our youth. So you’ll just get licensed and fly? What about the 12 year old with a $10 a week allowance?

            Surely when you were young, you experienced the thrill of free flight models and u-control. The hurdles you seem to be comfortable would take that out of the reach of a large number of children.

            With the reduction in expense of RC aircraft, we’ve seen an increase in interest. Now we seem fated for aviation to fly away from the common person.

            I implore you to consider the future of our youth and our country.

        2. Great thought! Let’s avoid all FAA paperwork and restrictions. All we need to do is fly aircraft under .55 lbs.

        3. Frank,

          Precision Aerobatics, which is a form of international competition recognized and governed by the FAI uses models that fit within a 2M x 2M box and our aerobatic box starts at 125m out from the pilot closes at 175m out from the pilot, with the “ideal” being 150m out, it extends 60 degrees left, right and up from the pilot’s position. A little math will show you that the top of that aerobatic box is about 984 feet. We don’t spend a lot of time at that altitude, but it does happen.

          Further, as models get smaller, aerodynamic characteristics change significantly as the reynolds numbers change dramatically as you scale things down. The models become less capable of handling wind and other external factors, the phrase “bigger flies better” applies very much to model aviation.

          As to training, I’ve trained hundreds of kids and adults to fly as the lead trainer at my club. I would be happy to take you up for an introductory flight so you can experience remotely piloting a model aircraft. We fly “three mistakes high” — it gives the student a chance to make a mistake, attempt to correct it themselves (the only way learning really happens) and then the instructor has time to recover the plane if the student makes a mistake in their correction. The buddy box system we use has been proven. The youth who learn to fly at RC clubs around the country are the next generation of aeronautical engineers and military drone pilots, etc. In fact, many of our top precision aerobatics competitors in the US have a day job designing and testing our military drones as well as training our military pilots to fly them! If you want to impact the US’s ability to compete on the modern battlefield you have no more effective path than to kill model aviation!

          When we train pilots at any AMA field around the country, one of the first rules we train is “see and avoid” — full scale aviation *always* takes priority over our models and we have plenty of time to see and avoid full scale planes flying over our fields.

          The simple fact is that we’ve been safely and successfully conducting model flight operations above 500 feet in the NAS for over 60 years.

          When we get into “need” and “want” my argument would be that every aspect of competition draws a different sort of person and drives a different sort of innovation. That innovation is the very thing that keeps the US competitive, in industry and in military applications of small-scale aviation. Thermal duration competition has had a direct effect on our ability to develop long-range and long-duration stealthy spy drones, etc.

          1. Peter,

            I’m well versed in aerodynamics and aeronautics, and management of operational aviation safety programs. I’ve also taken a sparrow to an armored windscreen at 450 KIAS and seen the damage that can cause. I’m a self taught RC flier, never even used a buddy box, and my original trainer is still intact almost ten years and two engines later. I now fly mostly helicopters and smaller electrics because I don’t have to schlep ten miles one way to a rough grass field, but can walk less than five minutes and be flying in a park. Due to my military career, I’ve also had the opportunity to observe operations at a number of RC clubs in a number of different states.

            While aerodynamic characteristics change as the aircraft get smaller, if everyone is flying aircraft that meet those same rules, then there’s no change to the integrity of the competition. Again, nothing prevents saying aircraft shall fit into a smaller box and require less airspace.

            The reason I support a 400 foot limit is I’ve been at too many fields and seen too many operators who struggle to control their aircraft let alone fly the aircraft and have situational awareness of anything that isn’t in their field of view. Furthermore, there are no visual acuity standards to make sure model operators can indeed even see approaching aircraft. Additionally, there are no audio standards to make sure they can hear them either. And lastly, one doesn’t need to look far in online forums to see that knowledge of FARs is dangerously lacking among some. And yet these same folks are supposed to see and avoid?

            Thus I strongly support a national 400 foot AGL limit on model aircraft along with a process to request NOTAMS for sanctioned events / fixed fields. As the vast majority of manned aircraft operate above 500 AGL except for takeoff and landing, this mitigates the risk in a way that’s easy to communicate, implement, and enforce.

            However, there is an additional risk that needs to be addressed, specifically military aircraft operating on VR, IR, or SR routes at low altitudes and high speeds. While the centerlines are depicted on sectionals, the route widths are not (up to 10 nm either side of centerline). A military aircraft hitting a model anything at 450 KIAS presents a grave danger to the crew and to people on the ground.

            So, I’m a strong supporter of a national 400 foot AGL cap, no flight inside lateral limits of class B or C airspace, and no flight inside lateral limits of military training routes. If there is some compelling want to fly higher, then the NOTAM process ensures pilots of manned aircraft are aware.

          2. Frank-

            I’ve got some aerospace experience as well; 42 years of launch vehicle and space craft design and operations. I don’t support the notion of a 400ft. rule. In my experience simple rules like this are dangerous because they lead to a mind set that discourages situational awareness and the use of judgement in unique circumstances. The more encompassing rule, which can be more generally applied is : “give way to manned aircraft-get the heck out of the way”.

            There are many manned aircraft that do fly below 500ft. In urban and suburban environments there are medical and police helicopters. Out in rural areas where I fly RC, there are GA and ultralight folks who like to “buzz” around low and slow. I know I have to, and do, get the heck out of the way. I am glad to to it. Heck I like a good flyby. Other than near airports, using the existing coordination process, a 400ft. rule is more dangerous in my opinion.

            If you have followed any of the RC forum blogs I think you will find RC folks who, already with the FAA’s 400ft. guidance, consider that they own the airspace below 500 ft.; and in that airspace, it is the manned vehicle’s responsibility to avoid sUAVs since the manned vehicle is where it shouldn’t be and is “more maneuverable” (actual quote by the way).

            The simple, one unambiguous rule that works at any altitude and situation is to see, avoid and get out-of-the way no matter what.


        4. It is alarming to me how easily fellow modelers will throw a section of the hobby under the bus that they either do not understand or do not like. We are talking about segments of the hobby that have existed for decades with a perfect safety record which you apparently feel have no right to continue to exist. Very sad in my mind.

        5. Is this comment for real???

          What Frank Mellott is saying is that we should make everybody who owns or participates in the flying of a very large segment of the hobby to go find a different hobby.

          And oh yeah, those planes you invested thousands of dollars in (I have at least $10K), good luck selling them now for more than 1/20th what you paid.

        6. There is no “need” to fly model aircraft at all. But there is such a thing called freedom to do what you want unless it interferes with someone else’s rights.

          US modelers have been exercising their right to fly model aircraft for longer than manned aircraft has been in existence with a much, much (repeat much) better safety record.

          Now you are defending the outright banning of a huge segment of the hobby in response to a falsely perceived threat that has absolutely no basis in fact.

          1. Ian,

            There is no affirmative “right” to fly model aircraft. Just like flying full scale, it’s a privilege subject to law and regulation. Heretofore it’s been loosely regulated, but the increase in the numbers of sUAS, significant technological changes, and a budding commercial sUAS industry has driven the need to change “the way we’ve always done it.”

            This isn’t about whether I like or don’t like certain activities. I read the Bard report and I’m convinced there’s enough of a risk to manned aircraft that additional operational restrictions on hobby sUAS are warranted. Some will say “but there are more birds,” to which I say is true, but then look at all the active programs to control birds in/around airports, and yet there are still strikes. Hobby sUAS is a privilege that can be regulated. Why not drive the risk as close to zero as possible?

            I support a national 400 foot AGL cap not because I don’t fly sailplanes, I do have one, but rather because the vast majority of manned aircraft fly above 500 feet – except in/around airports, on Military Training Routes (MTRs), and other limited special cases (fire fighting, news and police helis, medevac, line inspections, and agricultural for example).

            We need to collectively realize that the public’s tolerance for a sUAS impacting a passenger plane is zero. From a public policy standpoint, any rules have to be relatively simple and consistent to be enforceable. So, for these reasons, I support a national 400′ AGL cap on non-commercial sUAS operations, a prohibition on non-commercial sUAS operations inside lateral limits of Class B & C airspace w/o permission of cognizant ATC facility supervisor, and complete prohibition on all sUAS flying inside the lateral limits of MTRs during hours of operation. I also support creating mechanisms to allow those who want to fly higher to use the NOTAM process to ensure manned aircraft are aware of locations and maximum altitudes.

        7. According to your logic, there is no “need” to fly models at all, only a “want”. This would mean that you, too, should avoid flying models of any size. I would suggest that your hobby ought to be boats, cars, and model trains under that logic.

          From this and your previous comment it appears that you are just trolling. I don’t see the need to feed this particular troll any further.

          1. I don’t have any issue staying below 400′, flying .75 size planes, helis – and I’m not alone. We just celebrated the fact that several clubs in the DC area are flying again and staying below 400. Sure, they can’t do everything they “want,” but it hardly killed the hobby.

        8. Frank, perhaps you have forgotten what it was like to learn to fly RC. Altitude is the friend of the beginning pilot. Thermals are tiny at the ground and get bigger as they rise. They really don’t get very good below 300-400 feet. If a thermal is caught at 300 feet the aircraft can easily exceed 400 feet in less than a minute. Please don’t try to dictate what kind of aircraft and tasks others should fly just because it might not be what you want to fly. Bigger airplanes do fly better. It’s just a matter of physics. Air doesn’t scale down. If this is all about safety, let’s use our existing safety record as a tool in our favor. In that case, “the way we’ve always done it” speaks pretty well for us.

          1. I respectfully disagree. What’s worked in the past is not a reliable indicator of future success, especially when the technology of what you’re discussing has changed in a fundamental way – in this case FPV, GPS aided flights, etc. Your last sentence reminded me of a quote:

            “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the slogan of the complacent, the arrogant or the scared. It’s an excuse for inaction, a call to non-arms. It’s a mindset that assumes (or hopes) that today’s realities will continue tomorrow in a tidy, linear and predictable fashion. Pure fantasy. In this sort of culture, you won’t find people who proactively take steps to solve problems as they emerge.”

            – Former Secretary of State & Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell

        9. Frank. I am not sure it is fair for you to make suggestions for people to change their hobby because you see fit. There are surely many reasons people choose the style they want based on their own life experiences.

        10. Ah, wants vs needs. Would you like to live in an environment where all your needs are met, with little to no effort on your part? Go to prison. Three hots and a cot. Medical care. Library services. Just no freedom.

          The Declaration of Independence states government should protect our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. If someone is happy flying a model airplane with a 7 foot wingspan at an altitude of 600 feet, what is the compelling national interest to prohibit it?

        11. I don’t NEED to fly any kind of aircraft (well, I do for my own enjoyment), I WANT to fly ANY KIND of aircraft I’m able to fly.

          That’s called FREEDOM.

          Government wants to control/eliminate the whole sport – that’s quite clear to me.

          I WANT to keep my home. I WANT to keep my vehicle. I WANT to keep my life.

          Who are you, or any government to say I can’t? 400 feet? Fly smaller aircraft. 200 feet – fly smaller aircraft. Where’s the limit to government control?

          Sorry people. Getting tired of seeing government stepping all over the Constitution and our freedoms.

        12. WOW I hope that you are happy flying realflight on your computer because with that type of thinking that’s all you will have.

        13. Frank, obviously you have not been in the hobby very long. We don’t need ANY restrictions on our model aircraft. The safety record of the hobby speaks for itself. I fly full scale aircraft and the LAST thing you want/need is the FAA or any govt entity involved with a hobby. The knowledge and experience that it teaches our youth is priceless. My suggestion is to put this in the bill, “if you are an AMA member in good standing, you are exempt from listed restrictions.” I participate in aerotow events all over the southeast, if you restrict to 400′ you might as well shut the sailplane part of the hobby down. Only the law abiding pilot will obey, NOT the ones that want to do bad things.

        14. Seems to me your commits are rather biased and self-serving.
          There are several members of our club wno fly gliders and
          Need the higher altitudes for thermals. Also just because
          You prefer the smaller model aircraft, there are many who
          Build and fly the larger aircraft. Several members in our
          Club also fly these.

          There are new comers to the hobby and instructors who prefer
          To fly at higher altitudes for one reason or another. Who are
          You to dictate to other AMA members what they can fly and
          At what altitudes?
          Are you so good you never have ‘ dumb thumbs’? I doubt it.
          Drop the condescending attitude and consider other members
          Needs. What are you going to do ehen the ‘ gestapo Faa ‘
          Starts stepping on some of your preferences for aircraft
          And flying techniques? Grow up !!!


          1. Seems to me your commits are rather biased and self-serving.
            There are several members of our club wno fly gliders and
            Need the higher altitudes for thermals. Also just because
            You prefer the smaller model aircraft, there are many who
            Build and fly the larger aircraft. Several members in our
            Club also fly these.

            There are new comers to the hobby and instructors who prefer
            To fly at higher altitudes for one reason or another. Who are
            You to dictate to other AMA members what they can fly and
            At what altitudes?
            Are you so good you never have ‘ dumb thumbs’? I doubt it.
            Drop the condescending attitude and consider other members
            Needs. What are you going to do ehen the ‘ gestapo Faa ‘
            Starts stepping on some of your preferences for aircraft
            And flying techniques?

        15. The pattern and giant scale box is 1,000 feet high. Most people who say 400 feet is no problem are flying above that most times they fly. They really don’t know how high that is.

    2. You might want to ask people who are involved in RC soaring, IMAC, pattern, and jets if they share your opinion on this statement.

    3. Frank,

      I have been flying RC Sailplanes for a bit over 20 years. RC Soaring pilots safely fly over 400 feet all the time. If a 400 foot altitude cap were enacted (among other things it would have a negative affect on our ability to train for international competitions (which won’t be designed with a 400 foot cap) and will negatively impact our ability to draw international pilots to our events. Some events that have historically been done will basically be impossible (like cross country soaring) with a 400 foot cap. A lot of history of RC Soaring would be totally trampled on.

      In some places or for some types of models I agree that things like altitude caps or tests or whatever might make sense. But a blanket cap of 400 feet or requiring a FAA test be completed for some 2nd grade boy scouts before they can do a model aviation project with a club is just way too draconian.

      Ryan Woebkenberg

    4. OMG, Frank. I suppose you’d prefer birds pass a test and file a flight plan, too?

  8. I am new to the hobby and do not like the idea of having to take a test for the FAA. I have nothing to hide, however I am a firm believer in,If it’s not broke , Don’t fix it. The instruction and flight training I will recieve from my local club will be more then adiquite for the safe and legal operation of my Plane.
    The drone pilots are the ones who have very little regard for rules and common courtesy. Let them take the test by the FAA. Put them on a low power freqency so they cannot fly the distance they are able to. 100 yards is enough area for drone flight. Thank You

    1. Let’s not get in a pointing fingers match. I fly quads for aerial photography, and a 100 yards is not nearly enough. Try shooting a video of follow me’ off the coast and see how far a 100 yards will get you.

  9. Just let the AMA do their job and get things going because this is going to take some time.
    I went through this once before with the BATFE when they tried to shut down high power rocketry and that law suit lasted 5 years. I hope it doesn’t take as long for his one.
    So just keep your cool and hang on until they have a chance to get things done and once they have done that if they report back and tell you to bend over and grab ankles then you can start to worry.

  10. “The AMA began its work to pass the Special Rule for Model Aircraft years before it was passed into law in 2012. Countless negations, revisions, and eventually mobilizing our membership to write Congress resulted in this special rule becoming law. The Special Rule for Model Aircraft was intended to prevent model aviation within a community-based organization like the AMA from overreaching and burdensome regulation.”

    Well, AMA, you failed! You are fired!

    1. The AMA has not failed. There are currently at least three lawsuits progressing through the court system, one originating from the AMA, that address the issue. No act of Congress can prevent an agency from trying to extend its boundaries to the fullest extent of its perception of the law. This is up to the judicial system to sort out. We modelers must be patient and wait this one out. Meanwhile, AMA is watching for more restrictive legislation at Federal, state, and local levels to keep our hobby whole. Don’t shoot the messenger in this case. Without AMA representation, we would all be operating surface-based vehicles instead of our beloved models!

      1. Well lets set the record straight; due to the AMA’s greed where are in this predicament. The AMA tried to manuver the FAA to pass a ruling in ehich all drone owners would have to become AMA members. Instead the FAA turned the tables on the AMA. Myself and hundreds of others begged the AMA 3 years ago to denounce the drone movement and refuse membership of drone pilots which would have shielded us from the governments focus. Since the AMA thinks they know best they have screwd us all and have not even had the courtesy to own up to its greed and mistakes. They have time and again ignored its membership and the wishes of its membership.

        Place the blame where it belongs… the corrupt, greedy and arogant AMA leadership as this is thier bag of garage! All of this hype is just their way of deflecting the attention away from their gross misdeeds.

        Now you have the truth… choose to believe in or no.… as for me I was witness to it so they can’t BS me!

        1. Rick Dunn (and all others denigrating the AMA. First off Mr Dunn, what are these “gross misdeeds” by AMA leadership? How are they “greedy and arrogant”? As someone who has been a memeber for many years, as well as knowing some of the individuals involved, and keeping a sharp eye on any information regarding this fight. I can say with certainty that we have some great people working for us. They have managed to get face time with Congressional representatives working on the current version of this, managed to get the exemption for model aircraft strengthened, as well as a definition of what constitutes a “community based organization” as called far in the law. This has already passed the house, and now it is time to deal with the Senates view. Our reps will be working there as well, along with our lawyers and advisors. The lawsuit filed last year is also still in play.
          Did you know that the majority of the AMA officials are volunteers? Other than permanent staff, President and below are ALL volunteers who spend an enormous amount of time keeping this hobby and our organization going throughout both time and the cahanges and tech that it brings. I am (based on what I have seen) convinced that the current people in power in the AMA are some of the best in this organizations history, and in the last 20 years or so have ushered in changes fom ARF’s, new Radio systems, the rise of electric power systems. Not to mention the explosion of communications and growth of the hobby online and in forums etc..

          I could go on but the point has been made. As I read comments in this and other forums I have continually seen people lashing out at the only organization that is fighting for us. Most of the negativity seems to come from peop;e who are poorly informed on what is going on, and who look no deeper than headlines and the doom and gloom commentary.

          Whatever happens, win or lose, it will not be from lack of effort from those involved.

          1. You just keep drinking that “Kool-Aid” Phil !!!! The AMA Leadership caused this and your refusal to acknowledge this fact makes you either ignorant or complicit.

            The AMA leadership created this mess as I stated in my earlier post; they are not fighting for us they are fighting for their free ride and I for one am disgusted by their blatant malfeasance!

        2. Rick Dunn,

          Regarding “The AMA tried to manuver the FAA to pass a ruling in ehich all drone owners would have to become AMA members. ” can you show the evidence of this?


      2. They have definitely failed. The f.a.a. took none of there advice for drone registration. And now they are re-doing the special rule. Dont you see they are aligning the rule/laws against anything that flies by remote..

        1. Craig, You are right the FAA did not take the adviceof the AMA, the FAA also did not care about the LAW passed by congress saying that they could not make rules for model aircraft. That is why there are lawsuits (AMA’s was started before the FAA even put the registration plan out). That is also why there is the new bill that congress has just passed which strengthens our protections. Now we must work with the Senate to keep this intact. I hear much “oh they failed” when the challenges we face in the Senate are spoken of, but where were you guys cheering when the success with congress was announced? Do you only react to the doom and gloom, rather than keeping current on everything related to the process?

          Mr Dunn, You say I should “keep drinking the Kool-Aid” but you can’t seem to back any of your statements I have questioned with a single fact. It easy to shout “THEY SUCK”, but what can you do when asked to back your claims up with some facts. If what you say is true, then I am sure that the membership would be as interested in hearing it as I am.

      3. The moment they started working to get exceptions for AMA members, trying to protect an insignificant number of people in a hobby consisting of millions of people and growing rapidly, they failed.

        Let’s be serious for a moment. “If people not involved in the AMA should follow these rules, then why shouldn’t your members?”

        The whole premise is not going to be taken seriously for such a small percentage of the hobby.

  11. I was quite disappointed when I saw the Senate version of the bill (not surprised, but disappointed).

    I understand that this is a work in progress and I also understand that the AMA is working hard on our collective behalf, but its starting to feel like we are being played here. What happened to all that talk about strengthening the protections for model aircraft?

    The test could be a pain, but we can probably deal with it if we had to. But the language about tower “approval” will end up dramatically limiting where we can fly, and the 400 foot limit will severely limit what we can fly. I fully believe that this has been the end game that the FAA has been building towards all along.

    AMA, please tell us that you are in contact with authors of the senate bill; Please tell us that we are doing everything we can to get this changed.

  12. Chad,

    The chart is great but would the AMA post/publish a list that specifically spells out what is and is not allowed by law/regulation/CBO edict or whatever that as an operator of a “model aircraft” is required of me at this very moment.

    This has gotten so convoluted with proposals, pending legislation, regulation, suggestions, recommendations, opinions, etc. that I’m beginning to wonder what the heck is real and imagined with respect to flying a model airplane.

    A simple time line with dates of implemented specific requirements and or changes would help create a clearer understanding of the regulation history of the hobby.

  13. I mentioned this before and it was basically ignored. What about the Sailplane Nats and the 400 ft restriction? This would be a perfect venue for the FAA to flex its muscle. Hopefully there will be at least a waiver for the Nats.

  14. On page 89, the draft Senate bill repeals the 2012 Special Rule for Model Aircraft:

    9 Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform
    10 Act of 2012 (49 U.S.C. 40101 note) and the item
    11 relating to that section in the table of contents
    12 under section 1(b) of that Act (126 Stat. 13) are re
    13 pealed.”

    This appears to undo all the good work the AMA put into establishing the Special Rule. Does the draft bill contain any positive aspects that offset this repeal?

    1. Wow!!! I just read that section and you are exactly right, Dan. In plainer language, it says that modelers would have no protection from the FAA at all, should this version of the AIRR act pass. Maybe we will all have to emigrate to Canada, where the rules would be less restrictive than these.

    2. I believe that the new AIRR act contains a new and improved version of the exemption for modelaircraft, which would make repealing the old one needed to avoid confusion. Strengthening the exemption and defining a “Community based organization” as it would pertain to that is what our reps were able to get included in the congressional version of the bill.

      1. Phil, that’s good to know and I was wondering if that might be the case. Is the new and improved version of the exemption provided by the text on pages 85 through 89 of the draft Senate bill?

  15. Can someone who has read through the new bill verify that the 0.55 minimum weight limit appears to have been removed? I can only find statements that refer to “under 55lbs” and no reference to a lower weight limit! Thanks

    1. Pete,

      I did a search for O.55 pounds in the pdf of the bill and there were no matches. All I found were matches for 55 pounds. Based on this, it appears that the 0.55 pound minimum weight limit does not appear in the bill. This has interesting implications, among them requiring all of the operators of the small toy multicopters to take the test. It also means that those of us who were seeking refuge from over-regulation by flying models below the 0.55 pound minimum in the FAA regulations will have to take the test. Having been subjected to many standardized government tests in my life, this is not something I’m looking forward to. It will also present a real obstacle to all of the youngsters who are given multicopters as gifts.

      1. Thanks Dan..I was a refugee. Now I will get rid of all my stuff and stick with non-air related modeling. I didn’t think I saw it but before I dust off my 60’s era soapbox I thought I’d ask for a second opinion. Appreciate it!

        1. Hi Pete,

          As a fellow refugee, I’d like to encourage you to stick with model aviation for at least a while longer. We can still fly our models that weight less than 0.55 lbs without registering with the FAA and it will (hopefully) be a long time before congress gets around to passing the test requirement. In the meantime, I plan to have a last fling with the hobby I’ve enjoyed for 60 years and wait to see how it all turns out.

          It’s also important for us all to stay in the hobby so we can try to get these regulations and laws defeated. Maybe if we all climb on your 60’s era soapbox, we can make our voices heard.

          Illegitimi non carborundum,


  16. I agree with Dan, We have a program for young people of our community who have been given small multi-copters, helicopters and planes for gifts. We work with them in the proper use and provide them with guidelines and rules provided by the AMA along with our own rules. Our goal is to instruct them in the proper use and prepare them for the many careers in this area. If the 0.55 pound minimum does not appear, how will effect programs such as ours. The testing process would be enormous.

  17. When CFR FAR 107 is published for UAS will then Public Law 112 Section 336 still apply? In other words which takes precedence over the other if their is a wording conflict? Hopefully FAR 107 will prevail and not the PL112 section 336 as this will be the achilles heel of model aviation as it is so small beans in such a large encompassing transportation bill.

    1. The bill voted out of the Senate committee yesterday, now going to the floor, repeals section 336, includes a 400′ cap, and requires a knowledge test.

  18. The a.m.a. has done nothing. The f.a.a. didnt take anything the a.m.a. had said into account when it came to drone registration. What makes anyone think the f.a.a. will do anything different this time? All they are going to do is align the two seperate laws. This is the beginning of the end of rc airplanes being fun..

  19. I feel it is my duty as a citizen of the United States to not comply with an obvious over reach of an out of control federal government. I can shoot an arrow higher than I fly my planes.

  20. I think people have got so focused new requirements for model aircraft (<400' and a mandatory test) in the draft of the bill that they have missed a much more important change (at least the March 9th version of the bill I saw) it says:
    ‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law relating to the incorporation of unmanned aircraft systems into Federal Aviation Administration plans and policies, including this chapter, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any new rule or regulation specific only to an unmanned aircraft operating as a model aircraft if-….”

    The ONLY in the sentence would imply they can apply all the rules for commercial UAS to model aircraft since those rules aren’t ONLY being applied to model aircraft. That is truly horrible.

  21. All of this makes me wonder who will enforce all these rules on the hundreds of thousands (probably millions by now) of RC aircraft out there? Your local police? Not chance! They can’t even come close to enforcing all the things that are on the books now. Then they have to be there while the crafts battery is still alive. Thirty minutes at best. The idiots who will go the a store, buy a Quad and fly it up the side of the Empire State building will still do it and be totally ignorant of the law”. They will be caught and hit with a few more fines but that won’t stop the next one.

    So will the FAA form their own police force? Where would that money come from? Congress is great for enacting rules that are unfunded and unenforceable. This is truly stupid.

    1. Paul, You bring up the million dollar question. Our Fed. gov. once again passes regulations that are unpoliceable. I am a AMA charter pres. and have been advised that we should not
      police our club but just advise. Unless someone files a legal complaint over an incedent
      these laws are unenforceable. Also, the Feds once again legislate against the law abiding
      and misses the law breaker.

    2. Paul, you raise a good point about enforcement. One possibility that concerns me is that the FAA will take the easy way out and send representatives to well-attended model airplane meets, where they will demand to see everyone’s registration and test documentation. They will then throw the book at anyone who is not in compliance. In this way, they can build the enforcement statistics to justify their rules and make examples of the modelers they catch in the process, with minimum effort on their part.

      Although the emphasis in the regulations seems to be on RC models, free flight and control line modelers could be caught up in this as well. The FAA FAQs assert that the regulations apply to “free flight” models (see Q17 at ), so the FAA could also go after free flight modelers. In the case of control line, Q21 in the FAQ link says that tethered UAS must be registered. Granted, it might take a stretch to apply this to control line models, but common sense is often not exercised by a bureaucracy. The AMA assures us that free flight and control line models are not included in the FAA regulations, but all it takes is an overzealous FAA enforcer and these modelers could find themselves facing charges of failure to comply with the regulations. The unfortunate victims might avoid the resulting heavy fines by taking the case to court, but only after paying lawyer’s fees and experiencing the stress of legal action.

      Of course, this conjecture represents something of a worst-case scenario. If the FAA takes this approach, it will do nothing to prevent the unsafe operation of drones and will only punish the modeling community. However, it will provide an easy way for the FAA to claim that they are enforcing the regulations. Hopefully, the FAA will not go this route, but how much do we trust them not to do so?

    3. Page 96 of the draft bill appropriates $5,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2016 through 2017 for enforcement.

  22. Does the AMA have a seat on the micro UAS Committee referenced below?

    Q. Who will be on the committee?
    A. The micro UAS ARC will consist of members of the aviation community and industry member organizations, manufacturers, researchers, and standards bodies who have a vested interest in micro UAS. FAA and other Agency subject matter experts may be requested to participate and provide technical support to micro UAS ARC members.

      1. Wow of the hundreds of legitimate concerns this is the one that you finally respond to!

        1. I share many of the concerns raised here however t is not practical for the AMA to answer many of the questions given the ongoing negotiations.

          Below is the list of committee members. The AMA seems to be one lone voice in representing the traditional hobby community. Some parties have seriously deep pockets and experience in lobbying government (Intel, Google, AT&T). I can’t help but think we are a bit outgunned.

          1) 3D Robotics (3DR)
          2) Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA)
          3) Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA)
          4) Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
          5) Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE)
          6) American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE)
          7) Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)
          8) ASTM International
          9) AT&T Technology Operations
          10) Consumer Technology Association (CTA)
          11) DJI
          12) Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)
          13) General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA)
          14) GoogleX
          15) GoPro, Inc.
          16) Helicopter Association International (HAI)
          17) ICON Aircraft
          18) Intel Corporation
          19) National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA)
          20) National Association of Realtors (NAR)
          21) National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO)
          22) News Media Coalition (NMC)
          23) Professional Aerial Photographers Association, International (PAPA International)
          24) Small UAV Coalition
          25) The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
          26) Toy Industry Association, Inc.

  23. Paraphrased from TNFAARA.3S.xml…

    In developing the consensus aircraft safety standards, the Director and Administrator shall consider the following:
    Geographic limitations,
    Altitude limitations,
    Sense and avoid capabilities,
    Remote identification capability.
    How to update a small unmanned aircraft system so that such systems meet the standards.

  24. This past weekend I was part of a R/C model aircraft show our club puts on in an attempt to raise public awareness of our hobby.
    We had a RTF electric trainer that we raffled.
    As part of our publicity we had a notice explaining that registration with the FAA was a requirement before this trainer could be flown.
    Many potential raffle ticket purchasers changed their mind at being made aware of this requirement.
    I have to believe this will not encourage new participants in the hobby!!

  25. Well after spending the biggest part of last year building my first big plane and having never flown it. I have decided after all of this FAA stuff to just take my loss and sell all of my stuff and go back to building plastic models. I feel utterly betrayed by the AMA.It looks like they are beginning the ground work to eliminate us for commercial gain.

  26. The AMA email mentioned the word “progress”. Where is it? Looks like we are going backward.

  27. There is a subtle, but perhaps critical, change in Sec.336 that shouldn’t be ignored.

    Sec.336 is now Sec.2129 of the Bill (p.85).

    As modified, this section limits the prohibition on FAA regulations to those regulations “…specific only to an unmanned aircraft operating as a model aircraft…”

    The addition of the words “specific only” means they could pass any otherwise prohibited regulation, so long as it also includes craft other than those identified.

    For example, a prohibition on flying above 10′ applicable to any craft under 60lbs would not violate the statute, because it includes craft heavier than the defined model aircraft. It isn’t “specific only” to model aircraft as defined in the statute.

    In those two words, they gut the protections we currently have under Sec.336.

    Please note that issue, in addition to the other clearly horrible provisions of this bill.


  28. I was just preparing to get involved in F3B and build a winch…with the reading of this I have changed my mind (there will be a lot of winches for sale really cheap very soon). It sounds like this second shot at congress to “strengthen” the original bill opened the “can of worms.” My emphasis from this point on will shift to sub 250gram DLG’s. I am NOT registering my “toys” and I am not taking a test for the FAA. Been there done that when I got my private pilot license.
    This has been my hobby since ten years old with my first RC built by myself at twelve in nineteen seventy four. General aviation died not to many years after I got my pilots license at the age of seventeen and sadly it looks as if my substitute for it will be killed in my lifetime as well.
    I do not care what any one says the introduction of multi rotor (quads) is to blame for where we are today. We did not have this problem before their introduction to the masses. Auto stabilization, GPS navigation and cameras on any craft should put it into a totally different category then anything else. Without those things we would not be here! If they are not separated from the rest of the hobby we are doomed. Like Flying Farmers and the rest of general aviation we appear to be on the verge of a sunset!

  29. This is getting way out of control….The senate draft of the “New” law ,(The FAA doesn’t follow the old law). Now they would like me to take a test…. Not fly around birds, and ask permission from an airport within five MILES if it’s ok to fly.
    Seems like they are trying to turn my hobby into a crime if you don’t adhere to rules , set fourth by people who have no idea what they are talking about. IE:the FAA/Congress and their cronies.
    The AMA seems to get waylaid at every turn. I think after 32 years of flying models this may be my last year in the AMA.
    It is getting hard to look forward to attend events. One event I was checking out wanted my FAA# just to reserve an RV spot?!?!? I won’t be going there this year….
    This reminds me of War of the Worlds, a percived threat and mass panic when there is nothing actually happening. Just a bunch of beauracrats running around with their skirts pulled over their heads screaming the sky is falling…
    END of rant……..

  30. I got a better idea than all this BS. Have the Committee who originally came up with the law including the Special Exemption for Community Based Organizations call a special hearing. And call in the head of the FAA in and ask him why did the FAA not comply with the law the House and Senate passed in 2012. Then have them tell the FAA they are going to introduce a bill to defund the FAA one million dollars a day compounded until they comply with the law that Congress passed !!! They are not above the Law !!!

  31. I think the AMA should partner with EAA and AOPA. If FAA re-authorization comes through with either ATC privatization or user fees, I will urge my legislators to oppose it, no matter how good it might be for RC.

    1. EAA & AOPA both support the bill that was voted out of committee yesterday. It appears there’s a limit to their support.

  32. First a comment on the graph above. while this is a good attempt at clarifying the process it disturbs me that next to critical phases of the process, it says:

    “AMA provides input…”

    and worse, the rest of the phases it says:

    “if needed, AMA provides input…”.

    Will I still support the AMA, I will argue that “input” is no longer sufficient but it is certainly “needed” and never should it be “if needed” in any phase of this process.

    Vigilance is key and we all need to support the AMA but the AMA needs to step up the fight. Lawyers and lobbyist need to be full time employed by the AMA, even if it requires higher dues. Maybe step back some of all the expenses on AMA facilities, admin costs and programs. After all, if we don’t win this fight, none of the above matters. We need a stronger financial and legal commitment to this fight by the AMA.

    Next, I read through the entire AIIR Act and many of you have seen the implications of this rewrite, 336 is gone, Model Aviation does no longer have a unique status and is subject to the FAA rules and regulation including airspace classification limitation.

    The 400′ exemption under the AMA seriously compromised (and yes I fly gliders, large ones, and my landing pattern starts at 300′!) but i see something more dangerous to our hobby that i haven’t seen mentioned yet by the AMA or anyone else, the “privatization of the Air Traffic System”.

    This can be more serious as the “Corporation” (as they call it) will have a board of directors composed of all representative of the commercial aviation industry (airplane and UAV manufacturers, pilot and ATC unions etc) but no room for the AMA. The same goes for all the different commities they will establish. Model Aviation will only have one place left to go, in the history books.

    The AIIR bill is directly geared towards large commercial entities and that is why I feel that it needs to be rejected in its entirety, period.

    I have been a professional pilot for over 33 years and fly large jets around the globe, I have seen the FAA at work, they have done a lot of good for full scale aviation but at the end of the day, like any other government entity, they seek expansion and more funding and Model Airplanes just don’t fit in their plans as a separate group, we are just “drones” and they want to keep it that way. Just look at the part of the bill that tasked the FAA to come up with and integration of commercial SUAV flown from the surface up to 600′, that’s where we fly mostly, do you think they will set aside airspace for Model Aircrafts?

    My 2 cents

    1. The senate bill did not do away with the AIIR or house bill. They are equally pertinent. First the senate bill will be voted on in the senate (if not already) and if it passes they have a conference to resolve the differences between them.

  33. As usual, the FAA is way behind the curve here. Instead of anticipating, they are reacting with quick “solutions” that are over simplistic.

    They want something that is as easy as possible for them and doesn’t cost anything. The current registration and fee system they came up with is very simple and inexpensive to implement, actually creating profit for them.

    It is not a comprehensive and intelligent approach to a somewhat complicated problem.

    I think the real solution is using the very technology that as given rise to the problem to help solve it.

    Full scale aircraft use aeronautical charts that are regularly updated so pilots know where to fly, where not to fly and what limits to maintain when flying within certain areas, etc.
    Model aircraft should have the same thing. It is common sense that certain areas within the nations boundaries require more restrictive or prohibitive conditions than others.

    1) A database should be established and updated which clearly shows model aviators what the rules are depending on where they are wanting to fly. They could go online to see this information or purchase a “UAS” specific printed Aeronautical chart for their area, just as full scale pilots do. Some areas would obviously be “no fly zones” while other areas would have minimal restrictions.

    2) The second part of this would be somewhat more complicated, but not out of the realm of possibility and technological advances would make it less costly over time.

    This would entail an onboard GPS which interfaces with the UAS Airspace database to set off a warning or even correct the aircrafts flight to avoid violating UAS Airspace restrictions within the current flight area.

    1. I have been thinking along the same lines. The real solution to this is electronics that make it pretty much impossible to hit anything. Sensor technology is advancing pretty quickly and I’m sure some sort of TCAS system could be built onto a lightweight chip with our current small electronics capabilities. I agree with the idea of an RC database/chart system. Not a bad idea for a company like Jeppesen to develop such a database since they already have most of the relevant data for such a project. It will take a bit of education on the part of the modelers, but I really don’t see the objection to understanding airspace rules and regulations if you’re flying in the same airspace as full scale aircraft.

  34. I have been reading alot of comments negative to AMA. AMA has been an excellent advicate for its members and the AMA created the guidelines that saved our hobby. Without them the Feds would have killed our hobby long ago. The FAA has over reacted to a few law breakers along with a news media stirring up the public, giving FAA over reaching power from congress, leaving AMA’s advise in the dust. Now AMA is left to pick up the pieces. Lets not blame AMA for government
    over reach. They need our support.

  35. Reducing this all down to it’s simplest terms:

    The FAA once again overreached their boundaries, ignored previously passed laws and ordered aero modelers to comply with registration in a federally managed and publicly accessible database, analogous to a sex offender database with high potential for identity compromise.

    This action not only demands blind obedience to a government agency, but provides absolutely no solution to the falsely over dramatized “immanent threat” posed by model aircraft operating within the NAS.

    Furthermore, Failure to comply with registration can result in fines potentially more extreme than those incurred for DUI!

    If you CAREFULLY read the Reauthorization Bill and have a rudimentary understanding of “legal-eze”, you will discover that this opens the flood gates for future regulations, enforcement strategies and more assaults on our rights.

    Beyond any of that, regardless of any perceived “good intentions” of the AMA, the future of model aviation as we have known it from it’s inception, now has the life expectancy of an ice cube in the Sahara Desert.

    The right to fly a model aircraft at a local school yard, public park, vacant lot, or by definition – in your back yard, is expediently being abolished and not only by the action of the FAA!

    If you have followed the trends across the USA for the past three-plus years, you know that the right to fly model aircraft is being prohibited by local governance agencies at a geometrically increasing pace. Pass an ordinance, post a “Operation of Model Aircraft Prohibited” sign and one more flying spot is forever eliminated.

    Many of you who have limited your participation in aero modeling to private clubs, may not fully comprehend the impact of the current movement against the general population of R/C hobbyists.

    However, when it reaches the point – and don’t delude yourself into believing it can’t happen – where the only opportunity to participate in flying models is via membership in an AMA sanctioned club, our once robust and camaraderie rich fellowship will be diminished to an elitist class collection of overly crowded, politically motivated flying sites, incapable of serving all but a small percentage of citizens who want – and have just as much right to fly as anyone else!

    I’ve been involved in aviation in some form for more than 60 years. I’m definitely an older man, but I still love flight as much as I ever have and am acutely aware of when something just isn’t right.

    The only way that the ever increasing incidence of injustices such as these will ever be rectified is through HIGHLY ORGANIZED AND FULLY COMMITTED MASS PARTICIPATION by concerned parties in a manner that will get the attention of the right folks. Check history for further verification.

    God Bless and best regards to all!

  36. The focus on “safety” in this entire mess is miss placed. The issue is SECURITY. The problem with that is the AMA can’t do or say anything about it. We don’t have a security policy or track record because before multi rotors (“drowns” if you must) it was not a problem. Our hobby never invaded anybody’s privacy or threatened anyone other than the errant fly away and that was not intentional or under control. If the issue really were safety and how high we fly or who was flying the “drown”, the free flight community would be on the hot seat. They have no control over where or how high the model goes. I know they are way in the minority but make the comparison to RC and the issue come in to focus quickly. The issue is intent and what one wants to DO with the aircraft that is the issue. If every one was truly doing this for the love of flight we wouldn’t have a problem.
    We are all victims of the advancement of technology and we now must address the application of that technology. Because we live in a society that does not limit such advances we must protect ourselves from those who would abuse it.
    BOTTOM LINE: We need this legislation to protect our hobby and segregate those who are destroying it by abusing the technology that we covet. We just need to make sure that through the legislative process that happens. Thank God we live in a country that allows us to be part of the process and have our small voices heard. The more we join together in a unified voice (Yes, the AMA!) the louder and more effective we will be. So be prepared to communicate with your representatives in Congress when the call goes out from the AMA top do so.

  37. When the government passes laws that are unreasonable all it does is force normal law abiding citizens to break the law. Although I plan to continue to be a thoughtful, considerate and safe RC pilot, I have no intensions of abiding by nonsense like calling the local airport before I fly nor do I intend to worry about going above 400 feet. Unless the federal government outlaws the sale of RC planes we are wasting our time talking about laws that will never be followed nor enforced at least in my .40-.60 size fixed wing RC world.

  38. There is no doubt that we are at a crossroads. And while technology has given us a great number of helpful additions to our hobby, it is technology that will do us in. FPV is so cool, but begs violation of the AMA rules and coupled with gyro stabilization of an easy to fly gyro-copter and we have given the casual user the tools to interfere with both aviation and privacy. What ever happened to common sense. Unfortunately none of the proposed rules will be observed by the careless, uncaring person just out to “have fun”.

    If the government would be honest with us, I am sure that only a small fraction of “drones” have been registered. The irresponsible may not even know about registration and it is doubtful they would send in the information. And worse, the FAA has no chance of enforcement…no manpower, no money. Local law enforcement doesn’t care. Only when there is a major disaster by one of these yahoos will the problem really surface….and then or hobby is dead.

    One possible suggestion is to limit flying of unmanned aircraft at AMA sanctioned flying sites. In other words, if you are not flying at an AMA field you are breaking the law. There is no reason that you couldn’t get an AMA charter for you favorite park. But we need to do more than just talk. Unless we get a handle on the hap hazard flying of the masses who bought cheap flying drones we will loose everything.

    I don’t mind a realistic licensing procedure nor some reasonable limitations IF those who don’t comply ARE arrested and fined out of existence.

    We are going to have to give up some freedoms or be grounded…..for ever.

    1. Just the fact you are willing to surrender even our current rights is what it is, surrender. No test, no license requirement will stop the current wave of non-RC hobby fools flying dangerously unless those fools are forced to pass a test and show license at point of sales. When that P.O.S subject is brought up it is quickly squashed by the retail legal representatives citing burdens. So you’re back to the original problem.

      Blaming technology is an easy excuse to justify the government doing what it is trying to do. You need to weed out the corporate special interests advocates bending the legislation in their favor at the expense of the hobbyist. In its current form the bill’s language displays pure contempt towards the hobbyist.

  39. The AMA safety code states “Model aircraft will not fly higher than approximately 400 feet above ground level within three (3) miles of an airport without notifying the airport operator“. My flying field is 4.5 miles from an airport. The FAA’s B4UFLY app states that “I am within 5 miles of an airport. By law, you must notify the airport operator and the air traffic control tower (if one is present) of your flight”. What’s the AMA’s position on the distance limit? If I fly under the AMA’s safety code, will the AMA come to my defense if the FAA decides to slap a fine on me?

    1. Safety in the airspace is essential when flying models. This includes see and avoiding manned aircraft which can be done through communication with your airport. You need to notify the airport of your flying location since you are within five miles, but you do not need permission. It is suggested you create a mutual agreement on flight operations, but legally it is not required. You may continue to fly under AMA’s safety code, which permits flight over 400 feet if conditions are met.

      1. Chad, our club, Charter No. 936, has successfully gotten a Caution Notice for model aircraft flying up to 1200 feet within a 1/2 mile radius of the center of our flying site. It is in the FAA Airport and Facility Directory for the airport that is closest to us. It does show up on electronic flight bags, but is not charted on sectional charts nor is it available as a Notam for Flight Service Station briefers unless the KEDU airport is the destination or departure airport. We have a notification of model aircraft operations letter signed by us and the operator of the only airport within 5 miles of us, which happens to be a local ag operation, private strip. Keep up the good work, ignore the madders who will only accept their form of anarchy. Regulation always follows population growth.

        I cringe when I read people comments about why you haven’t been able to get the upper hand with the FAA. They need to spend some time watching The Great Waldo Pepper. Yes, that was the CAA, but it’s been like it is now for that long. The FAA has killed general aviation, destroying the path of education that gave us experienced airline pilots since the beginning of commercial aviation. No one in FAA leadership seems to understand that but as time goes on travelers will pay the price.

  40. Sorry, but this is simply too little, too late. The damage is done. Everyone that wants to continue to exercise their Constitutional Right to “pursue happiness” and not be infringed by the Government, pursuing continued R/C hobby has had to register with the FAA and hand over their personal info to the DOT for supposed “safe keeping”. Being a retired IT Administrator I can tell you that is an oxymoron. There is no safe database. I have elected not to register and not participate in this infringement on our freedoms. I choose not to be apart of a law that, by default, turns children into felons by simply flying a toy 9 ounce airplane in their backyard, because they were not registered. The AMA has failed in my opinion to make any impact on the actions of the FAA due to the fact they are a “minor” player in all this. Myself and others I know are taking the same step and dropping out the AMA and requesting refunds for our dues prorated. We all saw this coming for years, why did the AMA wait so long to react and not be proactive? Why did they allow the FAA to “paint with the broad brush” and not simply address the real problem of that being rouge “multi-rotor” operators. The law could have been for these aircraft owners and that was all that was needed. All the violations reported were caused by theses R/C operators and not traditional fixed wing R/C pilots. It is appalling and a total overreach of Government. I am doing everything I can yo educate everyone of the details hidden in the law and encourage as many as possible to leave the hobby and the AMA.

  41. Hey Chad,
    Six months to a year ago there was a popular conspiracy theory about FAAmazon and Gnoogle, Wallyworld and others PAC’ing their way into the house and Senate and onto the registration panel. Well, these revisions by the House contain some words and phrases I haven’t seen before like, “Stakeholders” and “Major Stakeholders” when instructing the FAA to convene groups and set up committees to make decisions about further rules and guidelines. They are not even trying to be on the QT about what’s happening. Stakeholder means one thing, unless you were born at night and still put your tooth under your pillow. I know the AMA leaders who have walked those halls in DC know what’s been happening and since graft and paying for what you want is legal in our system, they can’t say too much about it and still get what they can for themselves/us, I just wish someone would man-up and tell it like it is. It would make it easier to stomach. At least I wouldn’t have to play like I’m too stupid to know the difference.
    Tell-em to be honest. We can/will have to take it.

    1. Along with our staff and volunteers in DC, we also have other industry partners and paid lobbyists fighting for the hobby. You are correct there are very powerful companies with much deeper pockets also walking the halls of Congress. In addition to our long history and impeccable safety record, one of our biggest assets is the fact there are hundreds of thousands of hobbyists across the country, many belonging to the AMA. When the time is right, we may have to mobilize the hobby to write Congress.

      This isn’t an easy battle, but it does look promising that some of our amendments may make it into the bill’s language. I am not privileged to share details until they are public.

      1. Since it was voted out of committee today, can you please share which specific AMA amendments were included? If not, when and where will they be posted?

      2. Where is this in the press? Why haven’t celebrities who fly models been involved? Burt Rutan might want to talk to congress and the press!

  42. I agree with the bulk of the comments here, the FAA has been involved in a massive over reach into a hobby that does not need being crammed into manned aircraft regulations. It appears that misinformed bureaucrats took a stand that was non sensical and then have been obstinate about changing anything to reflect reality.
    I have heard the local UAS FAA representative on two occasions, and he was misinformed, arrogant, and dismissive. You would never know that he works for us. This should be vigorously opposed, and I see no indication that the AMA is effectively working for our interests.

  43. As for the 400′ ceiling, don’t hold your breath on that going away. Amazon wants the airspace above 400′ up to, I believe, at least 500, if not more, to fly their delivery drones. You can bet that the lobbyist for Amazon are making very large contributions to the Senators and Representatives to make sure that they get the airspace they want, and to hell with the RC hobbyists.

  44. Keith, You’re right on the policy of scaring off new members. We have had some people come out and fly at the club field several times on a buddy box. Now that the FAA places these horrendous rules in place, the new guys are nowhere to be seen. One more nail in our coffin as I see it.

  45. Maybe it is time for a Revolution!……

    E-Flite UMX P3 Revolution! under .55 #

  46. Why isn’t the RC aircraft manufacturing industry screaming and or leading this fight?

    1. Hi Gary, fortunately there are a few manufacturers who are in DC with us making the case against over regulation.

      1. Is DJI one of them?? I just saw that the Small UAV “Coalition” is giddy with delight over the Senate Bill. They are dancing on the grave of model aviation, but at least Amazon will be able to deliver packages!! Woo-Hoo!!

  47. This is one of the few things in life that truly make me happy. It is crazy to me that the FAA has nothing better to do than to destroy something that so many people love. There are so many important things to focus on, but I guess destroying people’s hobbies and past times is the most important. If you truly love this hobby, just go out and fly the same safe way we have been for so many years.

  48. What I would like to know is how did all this mess get started? Who exactly came up with this mess? No one group of people created the idea. It had to come from one individual. Any idea who that individual might be?

      1. Ok, I looked at the bill and it appears to be sponsored by 4 Senators that in all probability have no clue as to what model airplanes are about nor do they care to know. I worked in a Federal agency for 30 years and it has been my experience that the people in charge with an agenda don’t want to hear what you have to say. Their mindset is already predetermined. Typical politicians!

  49. How many full size aircraft have been brought down because of rc aircraft? None that I heard of. Yet hundreds of people die every year in full size airplane crashes including people on the ground. Still, people fly. Spectators in air shows have been killed over the years. Still, no one bans airshows. There have been about 142,000 wildlife strikes with civil aircraft in USA between 1990 and 2013.From 1990 to 2013, there were 25 human fatalities attributed to wildlife strikes with US civil aircraft. Still, full size planes fly. On a side note…how many people die from gun violence in the U.S. each? Over 30,000 people die each year from gun violence. Still guns are not banned. Tens of thousands of people die every year from car accidents including pedestrians. Still, people drive…etc., etc.
    My point is that living is dangerous. Getting up in the morning and going outside greatly increases the chances of you getting injured or even killed. Still we do it. To pass restrictive laws that inhibit the “pursuit of life, liberty and happiness” without without empirical data to show that an overwhelming danger exists to the public at large greater than any other activity pursued by humans such as the examples given above is un-American and un-democratic. In my opinion, there are other agendas being driven which are less about safety in this whole FAA power grab. Any law passed is a freedom lost. So if a new law is needed lets make sure there is an overwhelming need for it in the first place. In the case of Model Aviation there is no need for any new laws at this time.

    1. That’s correct. None of what the FAA is doing to AMA modelers has anything to do with safety. The statistics do not support a position of action based on safety concerns. The real issue is the Govt. fears it’s own population to such a large degree that it feels the need to safeguard itself from ANY possible threat no matter how remote. Thus the gun-grabbing hysteria, drone hysteria, 3D printer hysteria, the ability to arrest, detain American citizens with no regard to their Constitutional or civil rights, secret police no-fly lists etc… Wake up, it’s not just model planes coming under Govt. scrutiny. YOU are under scrutiny, just for getting up every day and breathing. YOU are a potential threat, even though 99.9% of the people are not. Go read history, it’s all happened before. It’s not rational, it’s un-American, does not support free markets or innovation and it stifles creativity. This is what always happens when Govt. gets too big. It stops serving the peoples interests and starts serving it’s own interests.

  50. The AMA has sold their souls and all member souls down the drain. All I see, is we are paying some high salaries to people who won’take the fight all the way til they win for the membership. I refuse to sign up for Big Brothers list.

    1. I don’t think is is a matter of unwillingness to fight for the membership, but more that they don’t know how in the current political climate. Have you watched the recent presidential debates? Politicians have no integrity. Facts have no importance. Rolling around in the mud is the only thing they understand. AMA does not seem willing to go there.

    2. Yeah, probably my last year paying for AMA membership as well unless they can figure out a way to safeguard the hobby better than it has. It appears however that the FAA will pretty much do whatever it wants anyway since the AMA is just an informed opinion in the process and has no authority to demand anything. They(FAA)have an agenda and anything the AMA says to the contrary will be summarily dismissed.


    1. I tried to post an answer based on IRS 990 information, but darned if that comment hasn’t been moderated yet – despite the fact that others input way later have already been handled.

      Things that make you go hummmm….

    2. Hey Chad, how come this hasn’t been moderated yet but many others posted much later have been moderated? This information came off public documents.

    1. If I’m reading it correctly, Amendment xii (Booker 11) provides relief from the knowledge test requirement for micro UAS under 4.4 lbs with airspeeds less than 40 knots. This is good news for those who operate smaller models, but doesn’t help many others in our community.

      I’ve only made it through the first 30 amendments, so far. They are found at



    WILL THE AMA PREVAIL WITH THESE “NEGOTIATIONS”, I DOUBT THAT AND SO DO YOU. I AM ALSO A BIT CONFUSED WITH THE ARTICLE, I QUOTE – “Countless negotiations, revisions, and eventually mobilizing our membership to write Congress resulted in this special rule becoming law.” IF THIS IS THE LAW THEN WHAT EXACTLY IS THE FAA RULE? “Today we continue our work to strengthen and protect the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.” DOESN’T THE LAW TRUMP THE RULE?

  53. If AMA is such a weak group, how is it that the Special Rule for Model Aircraft became law in 2012??? Has any other national, recreational member organization ever secured such legislation? And, had it not been for the 2012 Special Rule we’d have nothing to talk about here or maybe even fly today!

    One must realize, in the legislative process there are numerous drafts, amendments and bill versions that are floated. Not all of these become reality. What many are concerned about here is not the final bill, but the ideas of various legislators and their staff. AMA is in DC, on the Hill, working through each draft(s) amendment, etc., with Congressional representatives. The sky is not falling.

    1. I disagree with you, if the Special Rule for Model Aircraft is law since 2012 as you have alluded??? Why is the AMA going through the lengthy process you’ve outlined in your second paragraph??? Why not litigate to have the law enforced???

      1. Because the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, SEC 336, is part of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 112th Congress (2011-2012). That funding bill and the legislation runs out this year – it’s the way FAA is funded. Sorry if you were already aware of that. It does not make much sense to litigate a law if it will soon expire. Thus the reason AMA is back in DC, working to protect the language of 336, and improve it where possible, in the new FAA Reauthorization bill.

        1. Funding expires, law doesn’t unless repealed. The bill specifically repeals the 2012 section 336.

    2. And yet the bill is one step closer to becoming a law. It’s been voted out of committee, with fifty-three odd amendments. And the 400 foot cap, the knowledge test requirement, and the repeal of the beloved PL112-95 Section 336 are all still in the bill.



  55. Just read through all the amendments on the Senate Committee page. Unless I’m missing something, both the 400 foot limit and the knowledge test are still in the bill. Only amendment I read that even touched on our issues was one that allows faculty, staff, and students at institutions of higher education (as defined by a section of federal law) to fly at AMA fields for educational or research purposes w/o FAA approval. Requires AMA and local club approval.

  56. I cannot believe that a hobby shop in Atlanta has more to do with these forced regulations and tests than the AMA.

    1. Yes, but it omits a whole lot of military data on bird strikes. I can think of two fatals that were not included in this report (a helo and a large aircraft), plus countless grave risk of loss of plane/pilot near mishaps.

  57. This is a copy of the email I have recently sent to the AMA. I urge othere to get tough and do the same:
    To AMA Public Relations, (EVEN IF YOU DON”T CARE)

    I got into this hobby about 6 years ago because I am raising a challenged grandson and found that he really enjoys the model aircraft. I am appalled at the turn of events concerning the FAA and the special rule for model aircraft.

    It is quite obvious that a very large portion of the membership is very unhappy (to put it mildly) over the events of the past year or more concerning the FAA and governments attack on our hobby. Its also very apparent that the AMA doesn’t have the brass to put their foot down, hire the best attorney to just plain and simple tell the FAA that the Special Rule stands and that’s what were abiding by. This waste of our membership dues by flying to Washington I don’t know how times to debate this problem when there is a written rule in place was plain irresponsible and showed that the AMA doesn’t have any guts. The membership should have been advised from the beginning not to register any aircraft. The AMA needs to stop trying to appease the FAA when the FAA is illegally stomping on the current rule. It’s sad to say but the AMA is probably going to lose 20% of their membership this year. I for one am paid up for 6 years and I am debating on whether to ask for a refund. The FAA and the government not only don’t have the right to supersede the current rule but they also don’t have the manpower to enforce any interpretations that they see fit to impose. And the fact alone that an ultralight aircraft does not have to be registered but the FAA wants us to register our toy airplanes is proof that they are attacking or sport intentionally . Enough is enough. The AMA needs to grow a set and get this over with and stop wasting our membership dollars.

    Dale Bolen
    AMA membership #865518

    1. Hey Chad, grab this guy and grandson. Take them to Washington and tell the press how modeling helps kids to incuding autistic kids. Come on you can’t beat big money lobbiest without publicity!

    2. Unfortunately, all the FAA needs to trample the rule is have Congress repeal it in this new piece of legislation. Not only does it give FAA new authority (explicitly this time), but it gives them latitude to make rules (explicitly), and imposes a 400′ cap and an education requirement.

      Many more of these “enhancements” and we’ll not be flying at all!

  58. OH and BY THE WAY: This Grandfather will NEVER 1.Register any of my RC Aircraft 2. Allow my grandson to register any of his RC Aircraft 3. Call the airport control tower and ask permission to fly my RC Aircraft or allow anyone to tell me how, when or where to fly.

  59. It dawned on me that it’s rather easy for FAA and legislators (or staffs) to search these blogs and see all the AMA members declaring how they won’t follow rules.

    It seems that kinda undercuts the AMA’s argument that our folks aren’t the problem because AMA members “follow the rules.”

    My old boss used to say about such things that it is “handing them the stick to beat you with.”

    1. We all know AMA members are not the problem. That’s why we should not roll over and put up with government over reach from an agency that does not have the authority to regulate models and that is from Congress itself. The American people are tired of being bullied by a government sticking it’s nose in their business and dictating what they can and cannot do. I say let them read the posts.
      I hope they enjoy them and realize
      that those that do fly safe don’t welcome them sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong

      1. It doesn’t matter if AMA are the problem or not so long as AMA members are declaring they won’t follow the rules – thus they’re making themselves part of the problem

    2. Im not sure how old you are or how many times in your life you have seen your rights and freedoms attacted but i have seen too many. My father stood on the Missouri and watched the surrender documents get signed and secure our freedom and I am finished letting these attacts happen without voicing my opinion. Im sorry if i upset you but it is time to stop being quiet and timid and stand up for our freedoms and beliefs

      1. I spent my adult life defending democracy. But flying is not an affirmative right – even the AMA’s own document on “Sense and Avoid” says it’s a privilege.

        I argue it’s a privilege that can and likely will be removed if we as a group continue declaring a refusal to follow rules enacted by those with the power to do so as delegated to them by the lawmakers we elected.

        1. No disrespect intended Frank but I believe I have the right to go to the public park and fly my airplanes just like I would have the right to go there with my grandson and play baseball. There is no difference. And its obvious from the comments and this blog that a very high majority feel the same. The AMA didnt even have the considderation to respond to my letter a week ago. Do they REALLY care. Hmmmm.

    3. Actually it proves that regulation of this sort will not work. Just as banning guns will not work, banning light bulbs did not work (you can buy long live bulbs on the web), and will not stop free people.

    4. Open letter to the RC industry and Frank.

      Please share this letter with your treasurer and accountants. There are a lot of items I would have bought already, but this FAA VS unsafe Aerial Photography contraptions piloted over the public’s head and airspace controversy incorporating me (IMAC and traditional helicopter pilot) and my flying field, has caused me to stop buying anymore toys no matter how great they are.

      In the last few years I have purchased at least 15 RC transmitters and a few dozen receivers along with at least 35 airplanes and more than 15 helicopters. I fly my toys at AMA / Forest Preserve designated flying fields, your UMX models at the park next to my house, and in my backyard.

      I fly from 28 lb giant scale IMAC to 600 size helicopters and your UMX and Blade Nano helicopters and just about every one of your UMX airplane models. I have at least 8 NCPX and another dozen MCPX and BLADE models. I have over 25K invested that has now depreciated immensely since the 2015 FAA registration enforcement was enacted. Needless to say a few dummies and a few marketing wizards have ruined my 80 year old safe hobby overnight.

      The gross promotion by the industry of flying a cheaply made unsafe, unadvised, untrained and unsupervised aerial photography “drone” platform and the idea that it is safe to fly these over the public’s head with no training just for cash has destroyed a safe and established hobby. I will window shop but I really doubt I will be buying anything in the near future due to the unnecessary grouping of unsafe aerial photography multi rotors with cameras and FPV with the safe hobby of flying model airplanes at sanctioned flying fields. People like the people at Atlanta Hobbies are promoting grouping all pilots because they make more money if they can include 180,000 AMA members through forcing their idea of new profitable laws and mandatory training and testing. I have been safely and successfully flying for over 50 years. What do I need these guys for?

      You guys sell a lot of nice products, but the decision to mass market an item that is as unsafe, obnoxious and invasive as multi rotors with cameras and flown by untrained and unsupervised children encouraged to video and fly anywhere in public (Aerial Photography) is just plain wrong. What did you guys think these young, untrained or supervised customers were going to do? Join the AMA? Fly at an AMA flying field? Pay attention to public safety? Where was the safety concern by the industry?? Flying RC used to be fun and flying RC was a freedom we used to be able to enjoy safely. Not only was the hobby jeopardized but the entire American RC industry will be reduced to what it was reduced to in the late 70’s. Every hobby shop closed. Only a few guys at the fields. No kids were encouraged into the hobby by learning safe flying like at an AMA or club field.

      Just imagine if the few viral CB radio years in the 70’s caused you to now have to pay for a license /registration because someone used it “illegally”. Imagine if to use any radio for the rest of your life you were required to pay and register your radio and then just for good measure, they grouped all radio technology and transmitted music and the devices like a telephone and phonographs in it too – just so there is a big enough population for the government to harvest the fees to be able to sit back get fat and run and enforce the registration for a hobby trend. The difference is CB radios didn’t fly over your head with 10 inch carbon fiber propellers that could cut easily your face off.

      As they say, you can’t fix stupid – and I see many future years of a declining, once prosperous hobby industry due to the foolish marketing and unsafe use of multi rotor aerial photography contraptions. The fact that this is OK to be forcing AMA members and model aircraft pilots to be chastised and lumped in with aerial photography platforms unsafely flown over the public by unsupervised kids told me that this hobby and the AMA will be killed off pretty fast.

      Next thing you know Hillary types will want to confiscate AR-15’s and RC models – or else you are charged with a felony.

      I used to spend over $2000 a year at my hobby of flying RC models. Now I haven’t spent anything since the FAA, politicians and the government got involved with the purchase of my toys.

      If I were in this business or was the AMA, I would get involved asap and work really hard to separate multi rotor aerial photography (AP) and any FPV from traditional AMA pilots and flying fields and members who don’t have any use for an invasive unsafe FPV flying aerial photography multi rotor camera contraption and never will.

  60. So AMA, how’s that ’embrace the drones’ attitude working now? It seems to me that instead of showing the general public and lawmakers that we are a SEPERATE AND DISTINCT group, free from the problems that have gotten us to this point, the inclusive strategy has effectively chained us to the very ones who started this problem. Tell me, if you see someone being arrested for doing something stupid, do you run over and volunteer to join him?

    1. Yes indeed, that millstone with the big MR on it is weighing heavily these days!

  61. Hi Chad,
    In some of your earlier posts, you indicated some optimism that there would be amelioration to the worst of the language in the Senate version of the bill. It looks like that did not happen.

    Can you enlighten us as to what went wrong and what we need to do as a community at this point? Also, what is the AMA’s next step?

    Note: I have already written both my Representative and my Senator (Blumenthol – who is on the Transportation Committee).

    1. Hi Al,

      We are working with the leadership of the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee to push through amendments. We are still very early in this process and even amendments can go through multiple revisions. One amendment we can now disclose include allowing AMA members to fly over 400 feet who abide by our safety program. You can read more at

  62. I don’t see any comments about this, even more ominous, section of the Senate bill: the bill imposes requirements upon manufacturers to provide design,safety, and operational information to the FAA.

    Per these requirements, a small company that produces ARFs (Hangar 9, Top Flight, CompARF, etc.) will have to provide the FAA with manufacturing quality control data, safety testing, operations manuals, etc. before introducing for sale any new product. They will, by definition, then have to wait for FAA approval of this data before it becomes legal to sell their product.

    I’ve worked as an Aerospace engineer for 24 years. When the FAA says “provide quality control” information, they don’t mean what kind glue do you use and don’t care where it is manufactured. They’ll want to know how the models are made, what are the materials, how do you control material quality, how do you control manufacturing quality and processes, etc. This is the reason why a sheet metal and rivet Cessna, designed in the 50’s, with 70 year old engine technology costs north of $300,000 each to buy new.

    Does anyone here have any idea 1) how much cost this will add to kits (ARFs), and 2) how long it will take to secure this approval? This requirement, overnight, will make this hobby a plaything for for the wealthy.

    IT IS THESE requirements that will drive the final nails into the coffin of our hobby. Here’s how I see it: Manufacturers will stop making kits/ARFs because the can’t ($), or won’t, put up with this crap, people won’t have a source to acquire them, clubs will start folding up. DONE.

    Of course, this is an existential problem for the AMA as well because, obviously, if I can’t fly I sure as hell don’t have any further reason to pay dues.

    Someone from the AMA HAS TO GET ON HERE and provide us information beyond that stupid graphic of the legislative process, so we know what is going to happen!!!

  63. I’ve been flying model airplanes, helicopters and multi rotors for over 30 years. I have been an on and off again AMA member over those years. The last few years I have kept up my membership and donated money toward government affairs.
    The hardest problem I had when I learned to fly was finding a safe open area. I learned at my old elementary school after it closed down. While it was open they had signs all over the place stating no RC airplanes. After it closed those signs disappeared. Once a group of us started flying the signs came back because the school district still owned the land so we searched elsewhere. One of the problems has always been finding place to fly. Most public parks have banned flying RC anything years ago do to complaints. Luckily over the years local flying groups along with help from the AMA have created flying sites.
    Now with the advent of multi rotors it only takes a patch of ground to fly. Along with this the ease that it takes to fly a multi rotor many people are flying at local parks and parking lots. Many parks are banning flying again.
    I’m a member of our local club so I can have the privilege of flying at the closes field to my house. I also proud that my membership help support the airfield for all to use. My AMA membership also helps support all to keep their right to fly. The AMA is our best representation at the FAA and Congress. If you like them or not without them what do we have, nothing. There is no other group out there to represent us. The FAA gets lobbied by everyone most of which would like to see model aircraft banned or so regulated that no one will fly.
    I’ve seen our AMA representatives in action and I believe they are doing the best job they can. Change from our side doesn’t happen overnight. The AMA does have at least one lawsuit going against the FAA. Lawsuits aren’t cheap. Remember most of your dues is going to pay for the liability insurance and a little going to fighting for our rights to fly.

  64. The Senate bill, Section 336 from 2012 is repealed…

    44808. Special rules for model aircraft.”.
    (2) SPECIAL RULE FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT.—Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (49 U.S.C. 40101 note) and the item relating to that section in the table of contents under section 1(b) of that Act (126 Stat. 13) are repealed.

    However….The bills also have this…

    (1) IN GENERAL.—The Administrator, in collaboration with government and industry stakeholders, including nationwide community-based organizations, shall initiate a process to update the operational parameters under subsection (a), as appropriate.

    (2) CONSIDERATIONS.—In updating an operational parameter under paragraph (1), the Administrator shall consider—

    “(A) appropriate operational limitations to mitigate aviation safety risk and risk to the uninvolved public;

    “(B) operations outside the membership, guidelines, and programming of a nationwide community-based organization;

    “(C) physical characteristics, technical standards, and classes of aircraft operating under this section;

    “(D) trends in use, enforcement, or incidents involving unmanned aircraft systems; and

    “(E) ensuring, to the greatest extent practicable, that updates to the operational parameters correspond to, and leverage, advances in technology.

    So…my question is simple…Is the AMA engaged in processing an amendment, if so, what are the specifics…it is not a secret, it doesn’t tip you hand in the negotiation…

    I don’t see Section 336 added back in, unless the AMA creates separate rules for DRONES. I also don’t see the bills dropping the 400ft limit…

    AMA – What is your game plan here and why should I as a Soaring Junkie feel that my hobby is not about to be ripped out from under me???

  65. Looking at the process in the diagram, if the AMA waits to ask members to contact their congressional delegation until the final reconciliation of the house and senate bills, the battle will be lost. Now is the time to contact your members of congress, while the bills are being drafted and amended. Now is when senators and congressmen are willing to discuss changes. Once the reconciliation is complete, the deals are made, and positions are set. Please ask AMA members to speak up NOW!

    1. Spot on – ability to influence would certainly seem more limited the further it gets in the process.

  66. Follow the money everyone. This is about corporate control of the NAS for commercial use. Amazon, Google, NASA and a host of others are behind all this.

    If there is anything left for hobbyists it may be 200 ft. AGL and possibly designated fields. Who knows. Whatever it will be, it will be to promote commerce via draconian laws controlling model aircraft, and it will be one size fits all.

  67. Wow just what
    I wanted. AMA sold out to the FAA hoping for more of the increasing members fees. Perfect the gov web site said register my drone. I have no drone. 400,000 drones vs 188,000 paid members. 188,000 times 75$ is 14 million were is this money being spent? Not for me. You have sold out all your members and made tracks to the bank. What is the sum of money being wasted on the head of leadership? I will find a site where I do not have to bowl down to the so called leaders of this hobby. 14 Million? For nothing!

  68. why dont we do away with the entire regs for model airplanes.? The fact is, if terrorists wanted to use ‘drones’ they could use them without registering which is likely and without AMA which is likely. Why doesn’t the AMA push for NON REGISTRATION of PILOTS of MODEL AIRCRAFT on the basis if the PILOT is an AMA member and flies at a sanctioned AMA field there would be reporting criteria for suspected terrorists who may be among AMA pilots ( A snitch program) which will likely yield ZERO reports but its there nonetheless. And a safety training program sponsored by said club which meets safety criteria set up between the AMA and FAA to avoid airports, airplanes.. yadda yadda.. THIS IS COMMON SENSE PEOPLE@@!!! WHY ARE YOU MORANS WORKING TO DEVISTATE THIS HOBBY WITH OVER REGULATION.. ITS IDIOTIC>. KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID!!!

  69. Write a letter to all senators involved with the reauthorization bill and let them know the distinct difference between autonomous drones and model airplanes/helicopters. Model airplanes are not the problem. This is where the AMA went wrong. They did not provide enough separation between the two in the first place and the FAA simply lumped all of us together. Members must make the distinction that the AMA didn’t. The AMA instead, embraced the autonomous technology stating they would be governed by AMA rules as well. Sadly, many autonomous drone users don’t care about aero modeling or the AMA and it was a joke to think some of these people would follow any rules. It’s a fad for many who simply cause trouble elsewhere once it’s over. We must protect are own hobby by writing to members of the Senate as I did and explain the differences and the damaging elements within the proposed bill. (400 foot altitude restriction, certification etc.).

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