Military Models Blog


FAA Still searching out regulations for Drones

Drones are aircraft and therefore should be regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board said this week in its long-awaited decision on a 2011 drone incident at the University of Virginia involving Raphael Pirker. The FAA claims Pirker flew his drone too close to people, through a tunnel with people inside, only 10 feet above ground and up to 1,500 feet above ground.

The FAA claims Pirker flew his drone "directly towards an individual standing on a ... sidewalk causing the individual to take immediate evasive maneuvers so as to avoid being struck by [the] aircraft," according to court documents.

Pirker responded that the FAA doesn't have the authority to regulate drone use because there aren't clear definitions in place whether drones, or unmanned aircraft in general, are subject to existing aircraft regulations.

A lower court judge agreed with Pirker and was ready to dismiss the FAA's complaint, but the FAA filed an appeal earlier this year to have the decision reviewed.

On Tuesday, the FAA's appeal was validated, as the NTSB ruled that existing definitions of aircraft are "clear" and "unambiguous," and that there is no language exempting unmanned aircraft, model aircraft included, from FAA regulation.

The complaint against Pirker now returns to the lower court, where a judge must decide whether Pirker was actually operating his drone in a reckless manner.

But the NTSB decision has many implications for drone users across the country.

Until now, there has been confusion about drone regulations and how or when drone use is permitted.

Scott Shaw, attorney at Evans Harrison Hackett PLLC in Chattanooga, said U.S. drone regulations are unclear and have resulted in confusion.

But he said Wednesday that the NTSB ruling is "now the only binding decision on the issue," and it "puts a pretty solid lid on anyone considering using drones commercially."

For that reason, the NTSB decision is considered a step backward for advocates of commercial drone use.

"I think at this point no one can operate a commercial drone and argue that the FAA regulations are inapplicable because the UAV is a 'model aircraft,'" Shaw said.

The FAA isn't expected to release extensive new unmanned aircraft regulations until September of next year. In the mean time, Shaw said the NTSB decision should have drone users thinking twice before flying.

Thanks to Alex Green at or 423-757-6480.

Man Builds Replica of the Red Baron

Mr Ford, from Egginton, South Derbyshire has spent 5 years building a replica of the famed Red Baron Tri-Plane. The project started in his in laws garden and has ended with this beautiful replica. See the story here:  Red Baron Rides Again

Aircraft Models Under The Christmas Tree?

From all of us at and we wish you all a safe and happy holiday. If you are giving our models for gifts we encourage you to order early to beat the rush for Christmas and order your wood models now! When you get to check out type in coupon code 001 and save a few dollars on us. This offer ends soon so hurry.

This story below was a pretty good read, I am interested in the Drone phenomenon and actually bought one myself, they take some killer pictures and video. I spent $100.00 on mine and have since found some cheaper. They are super cool.

Quadcopters, drones, unmanned aircraft systems: Whatever you call them, there's likely to be a lot of them under trees Christmas morning and hovering over houses and backyards by that afternoon.

"We sold about 600 of these last Christmas," Larry Bennett said, pulling a tiny helicopter with four blades — one in each corner — from the display case at his east side store, RC Hobbies Plus. With the flip of a couple of switches, tiny electric motors whine, sounding like a dentist drill, then the copter lifts off from the countertop for a quick trip around the shop.

Plunk down $40 at Bennett's shop, and you can walk out with this quadcopter that fits in the palm of a hand, even a tiny hand.

For $20 more, a slightly larger quadcopter comes with an on-board camera and can handle flights outside in calm winds. It has to be plugged into a computer, tablet or cellphone to retrieve the images though.

The popularity of the quadcopters is that they require very little — if any — practice to fly, unlike remote control airplanes, which might take years to master.

"Anybody can fly it. It doesn't take anything special," said Ron Kovach, a member of Lafayette Cloud Jockeys, a RC aircraft club.

As Kovach busied himself tinkering with a large remote control airplane, Tony Venezia and Matt McDonough launched their quadcopters into the cloudless sky, hovered over the field and streamed video back to McDonough's tablet. A review of McDonough's video is the stuff of kids' dreams when they imagine what it's like to fly.

Matt McDonough's dji Phantom 2 quadcopter captures video as it hovers about the airstrip of the Lafayette Cloud Jockeys Wednesday, October 22, 2014, in McAllister Park. McDonough said the Phantom 2 is very easy to fly.

"People have used them on boats and taken pictures out there in the ocean," Venezia said. "The views that you get are so fantastic to what a normal person could do, and it's a lot cheaper than renting an airplane or a helicopter."

Someone flew a quadcopter with a video camera into the New York City Independence Day fireworks show earlier this year. The video went viral, but the simplicity of the quadcopters — the ability to carry cameras and stream high-quality video — are the toys' curses and blessings.

"Privacy issues," Venezia said when asked what was controversial. "Are people taking pictures of people? Your back backyard, your pool?"

The blessings include that quadcopters can fly over crops and determine, by using special cameras, if there are problems. But the FAA will not allow commercial use of the quadcopters, so farmers have to own their own, Venezia said.

Another value is that a quadcopter fitted with infrared cameras can search for missing people over fields or above treetops, he said.

A copter with these capabilities is affordable. For those willing to jump up to the $700- to $1,000-price range, the copters come with cameras mounted on a gimbal that stream steady video to tablets or phones, Bennett said. McDonough paid $1,200 for his rig. The same quadcopter, camera and gimbal set is now about $750.

So far, Lafayette police Chief Patrick Flannelly said officers have not received any complaints about the quadcopters. On the West Side, where the toys are popular with students, police rarely take a report, Capt. Gary Sparger said earlier this year. When officers have taken a complaint, they forward it to the FAA representative at Purdue Airport.

The utility of these aircraft is not missed on police agencies. Flannelly said Lafayette police have considered using them in tactical situations, which Venezia said gives rise to constitutional rights issues of unreasonable searches. Right now, the FAA is reviewing its policies over the use of quadcopters in commercial applications.

Quads must be flown within the line of sight, Venezia said, which means you can't allow them to fly too high or too far. Bennett said the range is roughly a mile or so from the control box and the battery life is roughly 15 minutes.

Some of the copters for sale at Bennett's shop can fly and hover around 3,000 feet — admittedly in ideal situations. But that would be out of sight, which is not allowed.

In fact, within 5 miles of an airport, those operating remote control aircraft — quadcopters, model helicopters or remote control planes — are supposed to contact the tower to inform the FAA of where and what they're flying. Within the 5-mile range, remote control aircraft — including quadcopters — are not allowed to exceed 500 feet. Beyond the 5 mile range, it's whatever the machines can tolerate.

With the toys being sold at hobby stores, department stores and even truckstops, Al Borges, president of Lafayette Cloud Jockeys, said neighbors should expect to see more and more of the remote control toys.

The rules While most new owners of quadcopters won't take time to even read the directions, let alone research the FAA rules, here is what the administration says:


• Fly at a local model aircraft club.

• Take lessons and learn to fly safely.

• Contact the airport or control tower when flying within 5 miles of the airport.

• Fly a model aircraft for personal enjoyment.


• Fly near manned aircraft.

• Fly beyond line of sight of the operator.

• Fly an aircraft weighing more than 55 pounds unless it is certified by an aeromodeling community-based organization.

• Fly model aircraft for payment or commercial purposes.

Courtesy of JConline


World War Two Dive Bomber Found On The Ocean Floor.

This old aircraft is a Stuka that has been on the bottom of the ocean for 60 plus years. It is amazing the condition this airplane is in considering how long it has been submerged.

Nearly 70 years after it crashed into the Adriatic Sea, a rare German World War Two dive bomber has been discovered off the coast of Croatia

. The National Conservation Institute says a well-preserved Stuka dive bomber was found lying on the seabed. As the Daily Mail reports, previously, two other Stuka bombers had been discovered, but they were in much worse condition.

An institute official said, "The engine, which was most likely ripped off when the plane hit the water, was missing and was found nearby, but the rest of the aircraft is complete and in very good condition. The plane is lying on its wheels as if it smoothly landed on the seabed."

Stuka bombers were designed to handle steep dives and were able to accurately drop bombs at low altitudes. It's believed this particular Stuka bomber was piloted by the Italian forces and was hit by the Yugoslavian navy sometime in April 1941.

See our model for sale here: Stuka Model For Sale

Stuka Aircraft

Original Aircraft

Stuka on sea bed

Stuka on sea bed

Stuka on Ocean floor

Cockpit Underwater Stuka Aircraft model

  Stuka history: The Stuka operated with success after the Battle of Britain, and its potency as a precision ground-attack aircraft became valuable to German forces in the Balkans Campaign, the African and Mediterranean Theaters and the early stages of the Eastern Front campaigns where Allied fighter resistance was disorganized and in short supply. Once the Luftwaffe had lost air superiority on all fronts, the Ju 87 once again became an easy target for enemy fighter aircraft. In spite of this, because there was no better replacement, the type continued to be produced until 1944. By the end of the conflict, the Stuka had been largely replaced by ground-attack versions of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, but was still in use until the last days of the war. An estimated 6,500 Ju 87s of all versions were built between 1936 and August 1944.

Lawsuit over Drones and The FAA

I found this story very interesting. Now that toys can be perceived as a threat where is the government going to draw the line? R/C model planes have been around since I was a kid. My first model plane had strings attached to it but it did have a cox gas engine and flew very fast. Hopefully this ruling does not ruin the hobby for our kids!

Model aircraft hobbyists, research universities and commercial drone interests filed lawsuits Friday challenging a government directive that they say imposes tough new limits on the use of model aircraft and broadens the agency's ban on commercial drone flights.

The three lawsuits asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review the validity of the directive, which the Federal Aviation Administration issued in June. The agency said the directive is an attempt to clarify what is a model aircraft and the limitations on their operation. The FAA has been working on regulations that would permit commercial drone flights in U.S. skies for more than 10 years, but the agency is still at least months and possibly years away from issuing final rules to permit flights by small drones. Regulations for flights by larger drones are even farther away.

Part of the agency's challenge is to distinguish between planes flown by hobbyists and those used for commercial applications, a distinction that's become harder to draw as the technology for model planes has grown more sophisticated.

A law passed by Congress in 2012 directed the FAA to issue regulations permitting commercial drone flights by the fall of 2015, but prohibited the agency from imposing new regulations on model aircraft. The FAA directive is a backdoor imposition of new regulations on model aircraft hobbyists and commercial drone operators without going through required federal procedures for creating new regulations, said Brendan Schulman, a New York attorney representing the groups that filed the lawsuits. Federal procedures require an opportunity for public comment on proposed regulations and an analysis of the potential costs of the regulations vs. the benefits.

"People who have been using these technologies for years in different ways are concerned that they are suddenly prohibited from doing so without having their voices heard, and without regard to the detrimental impact on the commercial drone industry," he said. Schulman pointed out that hobbyists have been flying model aircraft nearly 100 years, but he knows of no instance in which a model aircraft has caused the crash of a manned plane or helicopter.

"In situations where there really is no safety issue there appears to be not just some restrictions, but an outright prohibition on activities that have been done for a long time very safely," he said. An FAA spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuits.

The lawsuits were filed by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, which represents more than 170,000 model aircraft hobbyists; the Council on Governmental Relations, an association of 188 research universities; and several commercial drone and model aircraft interests. Among them are UAS America, a fund that invests in the commercial drone industry; SkyPan International Inc., an aerial photography company; FPV Manuals LLC, a company that sells video systems for unmanned aircraft operators and an association representing commercial drone operators. All argued that the FAA policy would impede their activities, from hobby use to research and innovation.

r/c model aircraft

R/C Model debate rages on


Plane, Boat or Drone?

Drones have been in the news a lot lately in the US. And I don’t mean the large, lethal military drones that operate in war zones, but the small Phantoms, Parrots and similar quadcopters favored by many hobbyists and independent commercial photographers and videographers. Weighing a couple of pounds or less with a maximum speed measured in feet, these tiny flying machines – called model aircraft by many operators – have been defined as “aircraft” by the FAA most recently in an interpretive rule published June 25. Defining these small UAVs as aircraft makes them subject to many of the same regulations as full-scale aircraft, including certification, airworthiness and operational requirements, like having a pilot’s license.

According to the recently-published interpretation, the FAA has “historically…considered model aircraft to be aircraft that fall within the statutory and regulatory definitions of an aircraft, as they are contrivances or devices that are ‘invented, used, or designed to navigate, or fly in, the air”. Whether the FAA has historically considered them to be aircraft is the subject of much debate; many drone attorneys and at least one NTSB administrative law judge consider model aircraft to have been long-excluded from the regulatory definition of aircraft, which most of us consider to include aircraft significantly larger than the ones you can easily hold in the palm of your hand.

But the question here is not why the FAA considers hand-sized drones to be aircraft, regardless of their size or the altitude at which they’re operated. But why it can’t decide that an 1100 pound passenger-carrying Flying Hovercraft that looks like an aircraft – wings and all – and can fly at speeds of 70 miles per hour (and more) and at altitudes of 20 feet to more than 50 feet in the air, over water or land, is also an aircraft. These flying machines, called WIG craft or wing in ground effect craft, fly on the air cushion created by aerodynamic lift due to the ground effect between the craft and the surface, the same as occurs between any aircraft and the ground on landing.

The question of whether these flying machines were aircraft came up when a friend asked how come Hammacher Schlemmer was advertising a Flying Hovercraft in its catalog with the claim that only a boat registration was required and not a pilot’s license. The Flying Hovercraft first appeared in the catalog in 2012. It is currently priced at $190, 000. Intrigued, by the question of how these craft avoided FAA regulatory requirements when tiny drones did not, I called the catalog company which promised to have a representative call me. I also called the manufacturer, Universal Hovercraft in Rockford, Illinois, and left a message. To date, no calls have been returned. How many have been sold and how many are being operated is unknown but there are quite a few videos on YouTube.

Here is a link to a Discovery Channel video that includes a conversation with the craft’s designer, aeronautical engineer, Bob Windt. In response to how high the craft can fly, he states: “It will go real high. But it’s not safe to do that.” I also called my local Coast Guard field office which promised to speak to its headquarters office and call me back. I’m still waiting. According to its website, no Coast Guard safety standards currently exist for WIG craft, although it claims to be working on them and will be getting “further assistance from the [FAA]”.

I also put the question of whether a WIG craft was an aircraft to the FAA. The initial response from an FAA spokesperson was “we haven’t made any determination whether any WIG [craft] is an aircraft because we’ve not received any applications for certification. We would have no reason to make a determination prior to someone applying.” That seemed like a bureaucratic non-response so I tried more directly, asking whether a commercially-advertised craft that weighs 1100 pounds, flies 70 miles per hour and can go to altitudes of 20 to 75 feet is considered an aircraft by the FAA. The response I got was that according to Frank Paskiewicz, FAA’s Deputy Director for Aircraft Certification, no decision had been made: “we simply haven’t made any determination yet. …It really depends on how someone wanted to operate it.”,

I think WIG craft embody some amazing technology that could have many beneficial applications. But their potential for raising safety concerns is also significant given their weight, speed, altitude and locations where they can fly. At least the FAA should be able to determine if they qualify as aircraft under its regulations.

By John Goglia

Plane, Boat or Drone

Plane Boat Drone?

New Chinook for British Armed Forces

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) unveiled the first upgraded Chinook helicopter of a planned new fleet this week. The helicopters are part of the country's $1.7 billion (1 billion pounds) campaign to strengthen their military force.

The new Chinook Mark 6, a helicopter that U.K. Secretary of Defence Philip Hammond calls "the battlefield workhorse of the RAF," will bring the British helicopter fleet to 60 — the largest in Europe.

The RAF ordered 14 upgraded Chinook helicopters in 2011 — a time when the British were fighting in Afghanistan and there were calls for more heavy-lift helicopters, reported BBC News. All 14 Chinooks will be delivered to the RAF by the end of 2015, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defence. [Supersonic! The 10 Fastest Military Airplanes]

The RAF is relying on the aircraft's improved hardware to provide a "significant uplift in helicopter capability" to support the army "on the front line for decades to come," Hammond said in a statement.

The new Chinooks boast increased safety and stability through a new digital automatic flight control system, giving pilots improved handling of the aircraft. Chinook helicopters are used for a range of military operations and peacekeeping efforts overseas.

The first Chinooks were designed and manufactured in the 1960s by Boeing, an American aerospace company that still manufactures the helicopters for the U.K..

"Chinook has proved itself time and again on operations, most recently in Afghanistan," Air Chief Marshal Pulford said in a statement. "The new Mark 6 variant will ensure the Chinook fleet is able to continue to play a key role in future operations, wherever they may be."

Pulford added that the new Chinook helicopters are some of the most advanced that the RAF have ever operated.

Caroline Wyatt, a BBC News analyst, believes the new helicoptersare a necessary addition to the British fleet, whether they are deployed for military operations, peacekeeping or humanitarian tasks. "All three services need to remain ready for whatever conflict they may be called on to intervene in at short notice," Wyatt said. "Assets such as Chinooks are among the most useful military assets for transporting troops and equipment to wherever they may be needed in the years to come."

  chinook-helicopter-model   By Jillian Rose Lim

FAA Rules Concern Some Modellers

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Darrell Abby carefully wipes down the fuselage of his Curtiss P-40 Warhawk for its first flight of the day.

He checks the flaps, wiggles the rudder, pumps in gas and monitors the air pressure for the landing gear. Then he pulls on a gray heavy work glove before spinning the propeller to start the engine.

While Abby's warbird has a wingspan of 86 inches — the real deal is 37 feet — the pre-flight checks he performs mimic those taken by a pilot before crawling into a cockpit.

"We're very big on safety," said Abby, a 66-year-old retired Delta Air Lines pilot at a recent "fly-in" of model aircraft buffs in Fort Worth. "In my opinion, these things are like a real airplane."

So it should come as no surprise that Abby and other hobbyists are in a four-foot hover over the Federal Aviation Administration's recent efforts to clarify its rules for flying model aircraft in the wake of recent incidents involving small remote-controlled aircraft, commonly referred to as drones.

Published in the Federal Register late last month, the FAA proposal restates some of the agency's established rules for model aircraft and tries to shed new light on others with the stated purpose of protecting the public both in the air and on the ground.

"We want people who fly model aircraft for recreation to enjoy their hobby — but to enjoy it safely," federal Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said last month.

But opponents to the FAA's recent attempt at rule-making say that what the agency is doing flies in the face of a law Congress passed in 2012 to protect the model plane community from "overreaching and onerous regulation" by the federal government.

Comparing it to the ongoing debate over gun control laws, Abby and others say a few bad actors are causing trouble for the vast majority of model aircraft owners who operate their miniature bombers, fighters, helicopters and blimps responsibly and safely.

"The FAA is trying to take part or all of our hobby away on a knee-jerk reaction to a specific problem that they will never be able to control," said Ed Couch, who has been involved in aeromodeling for 62 years. "It's the individual, not the vehicle, that is causing the problem."

The FAA says it published the new 17-page interpretation of its rules after receiving multiple inquiries regarding its enforcement authority over model aircraft. There have also been several high-profile incidents involving unmanned aircraft in the past year.

In March, a U.S. Airways jet flying from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Tallahassee, Florida, nearly collided with a remote-controlled aircraft. The airline pilot described the aircraft as a camouflaged F-4 Phantom jet.

Last month, the owner of a remote-controlled quad copter was flying — in apparent violation of FAA airspace regulations — over downtown Dallas and Arlington. He eventually lost control of the aircraft while flying over the $1.2 billion AT&T Stadium and it crashed onto the roof.

But observers say the FAA's urge to restate the rules can really be traced to a ruling in March by an administrative law judge that dismissed a $10,000 fine against Raphael Pirker, a businessman who in 2011 used a remote-controlled foam glider to take video for the University of Virginia Medical Center. The FAA said Pirker's actions were reckless and is appealing the decision.

Despite complaints from the modeling community, the agency says it's simply trying to clear up ambiguities in its existing regulations.

The agency says the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 prohibits it from putting into force any regulation regarding model aircraft if it meets several criteria.

But the law does not prevent the FAA from any future rule-making that may affect model aircraft, such as the use of airspace for safety or security reasons, the interpretation states. The clarification was published June 25 and comments can be submitted for 30 days.

"What we were doing was clarifying the FAA's authority under existing legislation," Les Dorr, a spokesman for the agency, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ( ). The FAA also restates that flying for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited and it gives examples of what is OK. Taking photos from a drone for fun is OK; a real estate company doing so for a property listing, not so much. Viewing crops grown for personal enjoyment to see if they need watering, go right ahead. But if those crops are part of a farming operation, no can do. "We have a mandate to protect the American people in the air and on the ground and the public expects us to carry out that mission," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said.

At the field in east Fort Worth, Abby and other members of the Greater Southwest Aero Modelers were celebrating the Fourth of July with a cookout and a fly-in.

Parked along the main runway are several large-scale models, some of them "scratch built," others from "almost ready to fly" kits. Besides Abby's P-40 Warhawk, there is a Messerschmitt Bf 109, a Vought F4 Corsair and a North American P-51 Mustang.

Club members carefully fly their planes, keeping them in sight at all times, often with a second person standing next to them acting as a spotter.

In flight, some of the smaller engines have the high-pitched whine of lawn edgers, while the grumbling from the bigger airplanes — which can fly up to 120 mph — resembles chainsaws.

But the biggest buzz at the annual event is the fear that the FAA's "clarifications" may ground them.

Tim Lovett, a retired Hurst police officer and president of the club, is afraid that what the FAA is doing is a "gateway" to more stringent and unnecessary regulation. "It makes me wonder what the next step is," Lovett said. "When we are at a field like this, we don't interface with full-scale aircraft. We are a model aircraft hobbyist organization, so we don't and shouldn't come under the auspices of FAA control.

"Anytime model aircraft interfaces with a full-scale airport control areas then I've got no problem with the FAA being involved, they need to be for all of our safety. But outside of that no. I don't see it," he said.,

The Academy of Model Aeronautics, a community-based membership organization that has existed since 1936 and has more than 165,000 members nationwide, also issued a statement saying it is "extremely disappointed and troubled by the approach the FAA has chosen."

The Muncie, Indiana-based group said the FAA frankly is ignoring the intent of the 2012 law passed by Congress to exempt their activities from regulation if it is conducted safely.

"The people writing these rules are by and large people who don't have experience with or a background in this industry," said Rich Hanson, a spokesman for the AMA. "They would shackle the one organization that is operating safely and responsibly."

Brian Huff, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Arlington who is conducting cutting-edge research in drones, said the FAA's clarification is one of the largest rule changes he's seen.

"To me the criteria should be if it is being operated in a safe and appropriate manner rather than if it is being used for sport and recreation," Huff said. "People who want to put these (drones) to good use, that will slow them down."

Couch, owner of Over the Top, a company that flies small blimps in the American Airlines Center and AT&T Stadium, said he wants the freedom to enjoy his hobby and grow his business.

"Whether I'm flying a 30-foot airship for the Dallas Cowboys or a 13-inch model, it makes me no difference, it's part of my roots," said Couch, a retired engineer and technician at Vought and Lockheed. "We are not geeks, crazies or someone lurking in the background bound on taking the government down. As a group, we love aviation in all its glory."

MMO 712-aircraft model Blog MMo 7.12.14 By MAX B. BAKER, Fort Worth Star

The Drone or Model Aircraft Debate

This story has been updated to clarify that House Bill 2710 does not apply to model aircraft.

A Southeast Portland resident recently purchased a drone for spying on Union Pacific and local developers.

The news raised legal questions for readers, so we did a little extra research. First, some background on the situation:

Robert McCullough, an energy economist and president of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, jokingly sporting vintage flight goggles and a leather helmet for flight practice with his new drone. Melissa Binder/The Oregonian

Robert McCullough is president of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association. He purchased a 2.6-pound flying camera (and christened it "Flying Monkey 1") several weeks ago, with the intent of capturing video of activity at the Brooklyn rail yard and neighborhood development projects.

He has no intention to spy on residents, he said. McCullough intended to donate the drone to the neighborhood association, but said Wednesday he's leaning against it because he's heard from a couple of concerned neighbors.

His only plans to only fly the drone above public right-of-ways to avoid legal trouble.

But it turns out drone regulation is pretty tricky.

Does McCullough need approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly the drone?

Yes, which was news to McCullough. The administration's online FAQ says commercial or business use requires certification and recreational use does not, implying those are the only options. But FAA officials confirmed this week that commercial use is just one example of a non-recreational purpose and that all drone use that isn't just for fun requires federal permission. Gathering information about Union Pacific or a developer's activities for use in negotiations or litigation isn't purely recreational, according to FAA officials, so McCullough must attain a Certificate of Operating Agreement before using the drone for any surveillance. So far he's only flown Flying Monkey 1 for practice. (Note: The first FAA stamp of approval for flying a commercial drone over U.S. soil went to BP earlier this month.)

So, I can fly a drone just for fun without FAA approval?

Yep. But if you want to use that drone for any purpose other than recreation (even something seemingly innocent, such as academic study) you might want to talk to the FAA first. McCullough -- who testified before Congress as an expert witness against Enron Corp. in 2002 -- thought his plans qualified as recreational.

Didn't the Oregon legislature pass a law regarding drone use last year?

Yes. House Bill 2710 limits when a law enforcement agency can and cannot use a drone or disclose information acquired with a drone. The bill also sets parameters for the use of drones by public bodies and lays out a few ground rules for general use. Those rules are:

It's a class A felony to intentionally fire a projectile or shine a laser at an airborne aircraft (or crash into it) with your drone.

Interfering with a drone licensed by the FAA or operated by the military is a class C felony. You can sue anyone who flies a drone less than 400 feet above your property if they've done it before and you told them not to do it again (unless the drone is taking off or landing in the lawful path for an airport).

HB 2710 doesn't apply to model aircraft, as defined by the FAA. The administration defines model aircraft as a device that's capable of sustained flight used solely for hobby or recreation purposes and stays within the the operator's sight.

Is a neighborhood association a public body?

That answer is a little muddy.

If McCullough does not donate the drone to the neighborhood association and operates it himself, he's likely only accountable to the rules that apply to the general public (such as not shooting airplanes). However, if the neighborhood association uses the drone for surveillance, the part of the Oregon law pertaining to public bodies could conceivably apply.

Neighborhood associations probably aren't public bodies, but it would be up to a court to decide. State law says entities created by local government are a part of local government. Portland created the Office of Neighborhood Involvement to facilitate the neighborhood system and recognize neighborhood associations, but neighbors technically create the associations.

Here's what the state law says about public bodies:

Public bodies must register drones with the Oregon Department of Aviation before flying the aircraft and provide an annual report on the frequency and purpose of the aircraft's use.

Public bodies cannot operate a weaponized drone.

Any image or information gathered by a public body with a drone that isn't approved by the FAA can't be used in a judicial, administrative, arbitration or other adjudicatory proceeding. It also can't be used to establish probable cause or reasonable suspicion that an offense has been committed.

Is my privacy protected from drones?

Sort of. HB 2710 allows you to sue anyone who flies a drone over your private property at a height of less than 400 feet -- if they've done it before and you've notified them of your distaste.

But the bill doesn't apply to model aircraft, so if the operator can see the drone and it's only being used for hobby or recreational purposes, you're out of luck.

Still have questions? Post in the comments section or email me.

-- Melissa Binder

3rd Combat Aviation Brigade gets some upgraded UH-60M Choppers

Two pilots with 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade listen to instructions on a UH-60M Black Hawk simulator given by a training contractor May 28 on Hunter Army Airfield.

HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. – Army Black Hawk pilots with 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade have been undergoing instruction on the new M Model UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter—which nine Army Aviation CABs have already received—over the past several weeks on Hunter Army Airfield.

The new digital platform replaces an older analog control system. Gauges and dials have been replaced by four large digital screens, or multi-functional displays. The Black Hawk M Models also have advancements that allow the aircraft to automatically adjust speed in flight to arrive at a location at a time specified by the pilot.

Rotor brakes, changes in rotor blades, and exhaust orientation will be the biggest changes the pilots will face, along with adjustments in cockpit management.

Army Lt. Col. Bradley Bruce, product manager for UH-60M Black Hawk, arrived to 3rd CAB from Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. He says that the fielding of aircraft in an aviation brigade is similar to the block of instruction a pilot would receive in pilot training at Fort Rucker.

“The advantage to the CAB is based on the multiple deployments we have been through; it allows the CAB to get their UH-60M qualification at their home station. They get to go home to their Families. They also get to train on their own unit’s aircraft and airspace,” said Bruce.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dennis Snyder, a standardization pilot with Company B, 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment is excited about the upgrades to the aircraft.

“You have the computers working for you,” said Snyder. “It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.”

Snyder said he was initially worried about the system being digital, but said there are backup systems that are engaged should there be a failure. He adds the instructors conducting the training did a great job presenting the material in methodical demonstration.

Bruce said the contractors conducting the training are Soldiers, noncommissioned officers, and Instructor Pilots who first fielded the M Model and have since gotten out of the Army to work for contracting, or retired and are now supporting the government.

One of the pilots going through training was Chief Warrant Officer 2 Denise Griffie, Company B, 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment. She said learning to fly the aircraft was relearning the aircraft and that for many pilots, who are set in their ways of the analog aircraft, it was not without transition.

“There’s so much new stuff in this aircraft; it’s all digital. It’s like learning a new aircraft, it really is,” said Griffie.

Story by Sgt. William Begley