What a busy month it has been! Activity has been high at AMA Headquarters with the recent flurry of FAA issues. As an AMA member, you can be assured that HQ is busy representing your needs and concerns.
President Bob Brown, Executive Director Dave Mathewson, and Governmental Liaison Rich Hanson have all been working many long hours. I have seen first-hand their concern and dedication to dealing with these issues. Be assured that your voice is being heard by the FAA and Washington!
Please do your part! When you receive an e-mail from AMA asking you to participate in this process, please take the time to engage! We need everyone to speak out when the call is made for you to take action!
Although the FAA issue is on everyone’s mind, we received a notice from the National Parks Service (NPS) about Policy Memo 14-05. This policy was aimed at solving the problem of “unmanned aircraft” activity in the national parks.
It seems that the NPS has had several incidents where RC aircraft were flown at Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial Park, with a negative impact. The NPS voiced concerns about “unacceptable impacts such as harming visitors, interfering with rescue operation, causing excessive noise, impacting viewsheds, and disturbing wildlife.” This is an interim policy that will be effective until the NPS can create a more comprehensive policy which includes a review of how model aircraft can be safely used in the parks.
The NPS has banned flying activity, with the exception of pre-existing permits from AMA model clubs that have a model flying site on park land. These operations will be allowed to continue to operate as long as they do so safely and in support of the park’s activities.
Although we are disappointed with the ban, we are very happy that the NPS has recognized the safe operations of the AMA clubs that currently operate at a few of our national parks. These clubs are to be commended for their positive actions and safe operation! Because of them, the AMA clubs enjoy a positive relationship with NPS. These clubs lead the NPS to approve of the exception for AMA clubs currently flying on NPS land with a permit, to continue to fly.
In our conversations with the NPS management, we learned that it intends to continue to approve renewals of permits for existing clubs, and to welcome new clubs that wish to create flying sites on National Parks Service lands by granting them new permits!
The only change is that now all permits will be issued by the National Parks Service Headquarters, and no longer by the local park management. Renewals will also be conducted in a similar manner. It will be up to the local park management to determine if the permit request is reasonable and in concert with “the purposes for which the park was established.”
Model aircraft operations, under the proper conditions and location, have proven to be an asset for the parks! We have a DVD showing how park rangers worked with AMA clubs to create parks and how it has been a positive impact for the park and the club. I am here to help even more clubs take advantage of this opportunity. If your club is considering flying in a national park, please let me know! I can help.
Along this same line, we are concerned that this policy may affect other clubs when state and local officials see what the federal government has decided to do. States may want to adopt similar policies that may not be so kind to model aviation.
In order for AMA to help our clubs and members, we would like to find out where you are flying. We would like each club to provide us with some information about its flying site(s). Are you on park land? What type? Do you lease land? These answers can help us to better protect your right to fly on these locations.
AMA conducted a survey of AMA clubs asking these questions. As an AMA club member, please ask your officers if they filled out the survey for AMA. If not, the club can contact me directly and provide the information.
Thanks for taking the time to provide us this information!