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Terrorist 1 – Model Airplane Pilot 0

I am saddened to see more American freedoms taken away by American government decision makers. Because the president of the USA (code name V.I.P)  may fly into either Dallas or Austin Texas on Monday afternoon August 9, 2010, it has been deemed necessary to forbid (among a lot of real aircraft operations) the operations (flying) of ANY model airplanes within a 30 mile radius of these towns, from the ground up to but not including 18,000 feet. This is through the FDC publication of NOTAMS (Notice to Airmen) and issuance of a TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) Read Here and also follow the links to the actual NOTAM.

Since the term “model airplane” is not defined in these notices, it includes ALL model aircraft, from a $1.00 balsa hand launch glider to a possible radio controlled terrorist flying bomb. Of course the terrorist is not going to abide by the rules. The plan is obviously make the Terrorist attempt more visible breaking the TFR rule. The old forest and the trees excuse. Cut down the forest so you can see the tree.

First, the rule is almost non-enforceable. The area included is (A=Pi *R2) 2827 square miles. The intent is that it could be enforced. If the hobbyist launches a battery powered back yard flyer in this 4.5 hour long temporary flight restriction period, that MAYBE flies in a dome radius of 400 feet (more like 100 feet), the pilot is in violation of a FAR (Federal Air Regulation). It is going to be the model pilot’s responsibility to know whenever one of these TFR’s is created and check if the intended model flight area is included. Maybe the hobbyist pilot will soon be required to file a flight plan with the FAA before going out into the back yard to hand toss a glider in the air above 0.0 inches off the ground because It may intercept AF1’s flight path.

Yes, I am being silly but so is this requirement for model airplanes. It IS an intentionally poorly defined restriction that takes freedom and privileges away from the law abiding American citizen. At minimum, it makes an innocent person, flying a model airplane into a convictible law breaker.  To micro define the intent is not the answer either. The problem and the intent is to leave interpretation open to the entity who desires to enforce the rule. So anyone including me can read this any way they see fit.

In reality this is probably a non event to model fliers. But ignorance is not an excuse. The AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) to which I am a long time member, has seen fit to make me aware of this issue.

Will we ever see an Air Force fighter jet strafe a R/C model flying field because someone didn’t know a TFR was in place? The sky’s the limit…

UPDATE 8/9/10: This is a MAJOR EVENT to model aviation. To date model aviation has been regulated by the FAA by not being regulated. This WILL change. The advent of autonomous amateur and comercial pilotless or actually Remote Piloted Vehicals (RPV’s) and Unmaned Air Vehicles (UAV’s) operating in controlled airspace has focused unwanted and up until now, un-needed attention on the recreational world of Model Aviation.

My spin (first impression) about terrorist creating the TFR because of the VIP safety issues may still be valid but perhaps not totally accurate. The implication of restrictions for model aviation is far broader because of the autonomous RPV and UAV issues.

 I will be posting more on this in the future.

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