As the little girl in the movie Poltergeist once said, “They’re here.” I’m referring to the FAA, the large federal agency that, after reviewing AMA’s 70-plus years of safe Aeromodeling, decided it would develop federal regulations for operating model aircraft. Its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) was released to modelers on February 15, 2015.
The process that resulted in the NPRM went on for years. The directions it took were often of grave concern to the AMA. In the end I believe we prevailed.
The NPRM largely excludes model aircraft operated under a community-based organization, which the AMA is certainly one. This does not mean we are out of the woods, not by a long shot. Open issues remain, the most troubling of which is the FAA’s misinterpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act.
This rule, which the AMA could only have achieved with the support of our members insisting that their Congressmen and women take action to protect modeling, prohibits the FAA from making regulations affecting model aircraft. In response, the FAA issued its interpretive rule, which provided a large list of ways the FAA would regulate model aircraft.
The AMA has filed suit to prohibit this deliberate misinterpretation from being acted upon. The case is on hold as long as the FAA doesn’t take action, but beware this will almost certainly be the area we have the most serious issues with the FAA. You’ve supported the AMA in the past with your political action and we may be calling on you again for your support.
The Arizona Electric Festival is a District X staple. This year marked the 11th year for what has become one of the premiere events of the winter flying season. More than 100 pilots from not only the southwest, but across the country made the Superstition Airpark in Apache Junction, Arizona, home for four days in January.
Thursday, January 22, started off windy, but by midafternoon things had quieted down enough for most pilots to fly. Friday was a great day with light winds and moderate temperatures.
The flight stations were constantly full which meant spectators had a great variety of RC models to enjoy. Friday’s flightline was filled to overflowing with models of every type imaginable.
A couple models of note were the scratch-built foam B-29 Super Fortress and giant B-36 Peacemaker bombers. The B-36 had a 12-foot wingspan and cut a majestic appearance as it flew over the event. Its designer and builder, Barrett Hochhaus, has become a bit of an event icon with what seems to be a never-ending string of scratch-built classics.
Phoenix pilots Mike and Kevin Carpenter came with two 40% Piper Cub aircraft—one in the traditional yellow and the other in the L-4 Army livery. Each was impressive when flown alone but their formation flight was nice. Both models are Bill Hempel ARFs. They were both powered by four six-cell 6500 Thunder Power batteries.
Big events such as these are not only fun for the pilots but also for the spectators who get to see some of the best model aviation can offer. The Arizona Model Aviators, and especially Contest Director Bob Ruff, produced another in a long string of outstanding events.
Registration activities, parking and admission, pit security, and flightline supervision don’t just happen. The Arizona Model Aviators members did yeoman’s work to ensure the hundreds of people who attended as either pilots or spectators had a great time. Thanks folks!
My thanks to Jim Mohan for helping with this month’s column.
Until next time, live long and prosper.