Military Models Blog

 

Rare 1914 Bing Autoplan Compressed-Air Powered Model Airplane on Display

I was unaware of any such thing as a compressed air powered airplane model but how about one made in 1914? I found this story on PR Web: The National Model Aviation Museum, located at the International Aeromodeling Center in Muncie, IN, is thrilled to announce that the Intermuseum Conservation Association (ICA) has completed the restoration of the Bing Autoplan. This exceptional aircraft is now on display at the museum, and is now the oldest original model airplane in its collection.

The National Model Aviation Museum, located at the International Aeromodeling Center in Muncie, IN, is thrilled to announce that the Intermuseum Conservation Association (ICA) has completed the restoration of the Bing Autoplan. This exceptional aircraft is now on display at the museum, and is now the oldest original model airplane in its collection.

During the early years of aeromodeling, most airplanes were powered with rubber-powered motors, but some builders used compressed-air models when they wanted to have a “real” reciprocating engine to power the airplane. Although the compressed-air models attracted attention throughout the model airplane community, they were expensive, fragile, and did not perform well.

The National Model Aviation Museum has always wanted to acquire and display a compressed-air model, but because the aircraft are delicate, they seldom survive intact. Thanks to the generous donation by Dick Moyer, however, the museum can now display an original model. Additional information about the restoration is available on the National Model Aviation Museum blog. The ICA put in many hours of hard work to restore the compressed-air model airplane. The restoration included cleaning the metal framework, the compressed-air tank, and the wheels. To match the original airplane, linen was stitched to the wings and tail. To keep the aircraft as authentic as possible, the tank was not repainted and the existing dents and scratches were not removed. Unfortunately, the original guy wires were too damaged to use so new wires had to be made.

A museum volunteer is working on full-scale drawings of the model airplane that will soon be available through AMA Plans Service.,p. The Academy of Model Aeronautics, founded in 1936, continues to be devoted to national airspace safety. It serves as the nation’s collective voice for approximately 175,000 modelers in 2,400 clubs in the United States and Puerto Rico. Headquartered in Muncie, Indiana, AMA is a membership organization representing those who fly model aircraft for recreation and educational purposes.

autoplan aircraft model powered by compressed air

autoplan aircraft model powered by compressed air

Finally Some Drone Rules That Make Sense!

After much back and forth about proposed rules for drone's this latest story breaks drone's into three categories by weight which makes the most sense to come out so far. Please read on and use the links below to add your opinion.

The FAA proposal offers safety rules for small UAS (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations. The rule would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations. It also addresses height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits.

The proposed rule also includes extensive discussion of the possibility of an additional, more flexible framework for micro UAS under 4.4 pounds. The FAA is asking the public to comment on this possible classification to determine whether it should include this option as part of a final rule. The FAA is also asking for comment about how the agency can further leverage the UAS test site program and an upcoming UAS Center of Excellence to further spur innovation at innovation zones.

The public will be able to comment on the proposed regulation for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register, which can be found at www.regulations.gov. Separate from this proposal, the FAA intends to hold public meetings to discuss innovation and opportunities at the test sites and Center of Excellence. These meetings will be announced in a future Federal Register notice.

Technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace and this milestone allows federal regulations and the use of our national airspace to evolve to safely accommodate innovation, said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The proposed rule would require an operator to maintain visual line of sight of a small UAS. The rule would allow, but not require, an operator to work with a visual observer who would maintain constant visual contact with the aircraft. The operator would still need to be able to see the UAS with unaided vision (except for glasses). The FAA is asking for comments on whether the rules should permit operations beyond line of sight, and if so, what the appropriate limits should be.

We have tried to be flexible in writing these rules, said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. We want to maintain todays outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry.

Under the proposed rule, the person actually flying a small UAS would be an operator. An operator would have to be at least 17 years old, pass an aeronautical knowledge test and obtain an FAA UAS operator certificate. To maintain certification, the operator would have to pass the FAA knowledge tests every 24 months. A small UAS operator would not need any further private pilot certifications (i.e., a private pilot license or medical rating).

The new rule also proposes operating limitations designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground:

• A small UAS operator must always see and avoid manned aircraft. If there is a risk of collision, the UAS operator must be the first to maneuver away.

• The operator must discontinue the flight when continuing would pose a hazard to other aircraft, people or property.

• A small UAS operator must assess weather conditions, airspace restrictions and the location of people to lessen risks if he or she loses control of the UAS.

• A small UAS may not fly over people, except those directly involved with the flight.

• Flights should be limited to 500 feet altitude and no faster than 100 mph.

• Operators must stay out of airport flight paths and restricted airspace areas, and obey any FAA Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs).

The proposed rule maintains the existing prohibition against operating in a careless or reckless manner. It also would bar an operator from allowing any object to be dropped from the UAS. Operators would be responsible for ensuring an aircraft is safe before flying, but the FAA is not proposing that small UAS comply with current agency airworthiness standards or aircraft certification. For example, an operator would have to perform a preflight inspection that includes checking the communications link between the control station and the UAS. Small UAS with FAA-certificated components also could be subject to agency airworthiness directives.

The new rules would not apply to model aircraft. However, model aircraft operators must continue to satisfy all of the criteria specified in Sec. 336 of Public Law 112-95, including the stipulation that they be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes. Generally speaking, the new rules would not apply to government aircraft operations, because we expect that these government operations will typically continue to actively operate under the Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) process unless the operator opts to comply with and fly under the new small UAS regulations.

In addition to this proposal, earlier today, the White House issued a Presidential Memorandum concerning transparency, accountability, and privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties protections for the Federal Governments use of UAS in the national airspace system which directs the initiation of a multi-stakeholder engagement process to develop a framework for privacy, accountability, and transparency issues concerning commercial and private UAS use.

The current unmanned aircraft rules remain in place until the FAA implements a final new rule. The FAA encourages new operators to visit: http://www.knowbeforeyoufly.org

You can view the FAAs Small UAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking later today at:

http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/recently_published/

An overview of the Small UAS rule can be viewed at:

http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/media/021515_sUAS_Summary.pdf

For more information on the FAA and UAS, visit:

http://www.faa.gov/uas/

Serious drone

6 Rotor Drone aircraft model

(UAS) in todays aviation system, while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future technological innovations.

FAA First Case Goes To Court Over Drones.

Now that the first case has made it to court, the results for model Aircraft pilots is not good. Read the story below to get an idea of where this is headed.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reached a settlement with the videographer to whom it issued its first fine for reckless drone use, ending a court case that challenged the government’s authority to regulate unmanned aircraft.

Raphael Pirker agreed on Thursday to pay the FAA $1,100 to settle the agency’s $10,000 fine for allegedly flying a drone recklessly to film the University of Virginia in 2011. Under the settlement terms, Mr. Pirker doesn’t admit to guilt and the FAA agreed to drop some of its accusations against Mr. Pirker.

The FAA declined to elaborate beyond the details of the settlement.

Mr. Pirker’s attorney Brendan Schulman said his client decided to settle because the length of time needed to finish the case and recent comments by the FAA “have diminished the utility of the case to assist the commercial drone industry in its regulatory struggle.” The FAA has said its authority to regulate drones stems from a 2012 statute that post-dates Mr. Pirker’s flight.

The FAA fined Mr. Pirker, a dual national of Austria and Switzerland, in 2012. The case gained attention after a federal administrative law judge ruled this past March that Mr. Pirker’s plastic-foam drone was a model aircraft and thus not subject to FAA rules for manned aircraft. The decision cast doubt on the FAA’s authority to regulate drones.

In November, the National Transportation Safety Board overturned that decision and ruled that drones are aircraft and subject to aviation laws, affirming the FAA’s regulatory power over the devices.

The FAA has effectively banned the commercial use of drones until it completes rules for the devices in the next several years. However, the agency has issued fines only against people who allegedly operate the devices carelessly or recklessly.

Since its initial fine against Mr. Pirker, the FAA has proposed civil penalties against four other people for operating drones recklessly.

Write to Jack Nicas at jack.nicas@wsj.com

Full Story

Staggering Cost To Fly A Military Aircraft: Chart

This Chart Shows The Staggering Hourly Cost Of Operating US Military Aircraft

The following graphic, courtesy of The Atlantic, highlights the disparity in flight hour costs for various aircraft currently in the US fleet.

Check out the cost of flying a military jet for one  hour

High Airfare? Click Image to Enlarge

The US military is set replace many of its aircraft with planes that cost substantially more to operate by the hour.

James Fallows, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, noted in a recent cover story for the magazine that costly military projects of questionable worth are becoming increasingly spread throughout congressional districts across the country. This means that projects such as the astronomically expensive F-35 become too politically sensitive to ever cancel, even if the planes themselves aren’t cost-effective once they make it to the air.

Aside from the Predator drone’s Reaper model, the A-10 Thunderbolt II is the cheapest aircraft to operate in terms of both flight hours and individual procurement costs. The A-10′s low costs are due to the plane’s rugged but functional structural designs.

Built like a flying tank for maximum survivability, the A-10 can be serviced even at remote or less-equipped bases and facilities, since a majority of the aircraft’s parts are interchangeable — including the engines.

The A-10′s low price tag and operating costs is antithetical to its proposed replacement, the F-35. Envisioned as a Jack-of-all-trades-type plane capable of a vast range of combat functions, the F-35 embodies the military’s drive towards having a single aircraft that can complete the full variety of possible missions.

Ideally, this focus on multi-role aircraft was meant to drive down overall operating costs. The F-35 would eliminate the need for more specialised and harder-to-maintain aircraft. Meanwhile, ta large F-35 fleet size would mean the military would have the expertise and the materials needed to efficiently maintain the aircraft.

Things haven’t gone so smoothly. The F-35′s per hour flight costs are almost triple those of the A-10. This is partially due to the lack of an efficient supply-chain for the aircraft, something that should be sorted out over the coming years. However, the costs also reflect the generally more expensive maintenance that the F-35 requires due to the aircraft’s perhaps overly complicated technology and lacking of interchangeable parts.

The Air Force has tried repeatedly to eliminate the A-10 for budgetary reasons. However, Congress has consistently moved to intervene on the Warthog’s behalf, saving it from the rust heap, at least for now.

Courtesy of Business Insider Australia

Safety Campaigns On The Way For Drones

As more Drones get into the hands of non pilot's pilots and the public are slightly worried about the possible accidents that could occur. I own a small drone with a camera and I can say it is really fun. But I can also say that it can get away from you and there is not much you can do about it. It could be because I am a rookie pilot but I can imagine what a more powerful model could do.

Alarmed by increasing encounters between small drones and manned aircraft, drone industry officials said Monday they are teaming up with the government and model aircraft hobbyists to launch a safety campaign.

Large Drone carrying a cooler

Drone carrying a cooler

The campaign includes a website — www.knowbeforeyoufly.com — which advises both recreational and commercial drone operators of FAA regulations and how to fly their unmanned aircraft safely. The campaign was announced by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and the Small UAV Coalition, both industry trade groups, and the Academy of Model Aeronautics, which represents model aircraft hobbyists, in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The two industry trade groups also said they plan to distribute safety pamphlets at industry events, and are working with drone manufacturers to see that safety information is enclosed inside the package of new drones.

Retailers say small drones, which are indistinguishable from today's more sophisticated model aircraft, are flying off the shelves this Christmas.

"In just a few days, kids old and young will unwrap presents, and many of them — maybe tens of thousands — will have unmanned aircraft," Michael Toscano, president of the unmanned vehicle association, said in a conference call with reporters. "This technology is very accessible and in very high demand, but information on how to fly safety isn't readily available. That's why we've created this safety campaign."

The FAA is concerned that amateurs are using the drones in a reckless manner, increasing the likelihood of a collision that could bring down a plane or rain debris down on people. The agency has been receiving about 25 reports per month this year of drones sighted flying near manned aircraft or airports, up from just a handful of reports two years ago.

"This is an issue of growing concern," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "The price of unmanned aircraft has come down and this newer and more powerful technology is more affordable to more people, yet many are not familiar with the rules of flying."

Small drones are available today for as little as a few hundred dollars. As of the end of 2013, about 1 million small drones had been sold worldwide for recreational and commercial use, according to industry estimates. Sales this year are expected to significantly outdistance previous tallies. Catalogs like Hammacher Schlemmer and Brookstone have prominently featured small drones this Christmas, while online retailer Amazon is offering more than a dozen different models priced from as little as $30 to nearly $3,000.

"Many of these operators have no aviation history, background or knowledge," Margaret Gilligan, FAA's associate administrator for safety, told a recent forum hosted by the Air Line Pilots Association. "They think they just bought something fun that they just want to fly around. They don't for a moment think, 'I'm entering the national airspace system.' "

Such operators don't intend to interfere with manned aircraft, but "they just don't know what they don't know," she said.

In response to safety concerns, Amazon created a special webpage on it's website with safety information for drone customers. Many small drones can only fly as high as a few hundred feet, which keeps them below most manned aircraft. But some drones on the market are capable of reaching altitudes as high as 18,000 feet — the start of "class A" airspace where most passenger and cargo airlines cruise.

Ben Berman, an airline captain who flies Boeing 737s, told the same forum that "the current situation is out of control."

In September, a New York Police Department helicopter had a near-miss with a drone. The pilots of a regional airliner recently reported spotting a drone 500 feet to 1,000 feet off the plane's right side during a landing approach to runway 4 of the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in South Carolina. The drone was described as the size of a large bird. The pilots of another regional airliner flying at about 10,000 feet reported seeing at least one drone pass less than 500 feet above the plane, moving slowly to the south toward Allegheny County Airport near Pittsburgh.

"An education campaign on Amazon.com is not adequate," Berman said. "Yes, if my aircraft goes down and we are mourning something strong will happen, but we can't allow that to happen to me or anybody else."

The near-misses and other close encounters may not be entirely the fault of drone operators. Nicholas Roy, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who has advised Google on drone technology, told a recent House hearing that "the vast majority of small (drones) are basically toy aircraft ... with the same reliability of a toy."

Prop Plane or A-10 Warthog?

Could a prop plane out do an A-10 Warthog? Our government thought that it could save alot of money by giving it a try. They actually had the theory tested.

The U.S. Air Force has a complicated relationship with its low- and slow-flying A-10 Warthog attack jet. And that’s putting it mildly. The flying branch has tried more than once to retire the ungainly A-10 in favor of speedier planes, only for lawmakers to block the move.

But on at least one occasion, the Air Force actually defended the heavily-armored, gun-armed Warthog from an unlikely challenger—a modern version of the World War II P-51 Mustang that Congress for some reason really loved.

In 1979, Congress demanded the Air Force test out the tiny Piper PA-48 Enforcer light attack plane—a derivative of the then-39-year-old P-51—as cheaper alternative to the A-10, which was brand new at the time. Five years later, the air service put two Enforcers through their paces.

The test revealed that the Enforcer was clearly incapable of competing with the Warthog. When they ordered the evaluation, American legislators did point out some real problems over at the Pentagon. “Congress expressed concern with the rising costs, increasing technological sophistication and decreasing readiness of tactical aircraft,” according to the official Enforcer test report, which we obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

The propeller-driven Enforcer promised to solve one of those problems. Piper claimed the plane would cost just a million dollars and be cheap to maintain.

Above and at top—one of the surviving Piper PA-48 Enforcers. Air Force photos The PA-48 was cheap because it was simple. Like, World War II simple. The Enforcer actually began as the Turbo Mustang, which Cavalier Aircraft Corporation developed in the late 1960s with the P-51 as a starting point. More than a decade later, Cavalier sold the rights to Piper, which renamed the plane as the Enforcer.

The practically all-new aircraft married the Mustang’s basic shape to a powerful turboprop engine. The plane had a variety of other improvements and could carry a range of weapons on 10 underwing pylons.

The various enhancements and the plane’s low cost gave the Enforcer some surface appeal. But in reality, politics propelled the modernized Mustang. By the time the evaluation kicked off in 1984, the Air Force had already been dodging the Enforcer—and its designer David Lindsay—for a decade.

After selling the rights to the PA-48, Lindsay had shut down Cavalier to free up time for promoting the plane. In addition to his aviation interests, Lindsay was a newspaper owner and publisher.

“In the mid-1970s, Lindsay achieved considerable traction … through briefings given to the House and Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees,” says Air Force historian Brian Laslie.

“The Enforcer has impressive credentials,” a group of U.S. senators—including powerful South Carolina Republican Strom Thurmond—wrote in a letter to Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger in 1974.

In the 1960s, the Pentagon had bought Cavalier Mustangs for Bolivia. The U.S. Army also purchased a few examples for experiments. Cavalier also sold upgraded P-51s to El Salvador and Indonesia. In the waning years of the Vietnam War, the Air Force had even briefly considered sending Lindsay’s planes to America’s Southeast Asia allies.

On the basis of those sales and near-sales, the senators insisted that the Enforcer “should not be cast aside by service biases.”

“How can we afford not to take the final step and flight test this aircraft?” the lawmakers asked. But the Air Force had just committed to buying the A-10. And political in-fighting had already forced a fly-off between the Warthog and the A-7 fighter-bomber. The flying branch was is no mood to hold yet another competition.

In spite of this hostility from his prospective customer, Lindsay continued to appeal to the Pentagon and Congress. Piper pitched the Enforcer to the Navy and Marine Corps, too.

“Some members of Congress considered offering the Enforcer to the Army if the Air Force refused,” Douglas Campbell writes in his book The Warthog and the Close Air Support Debate. But the Army was wary of that idea after spending years arguing with the Air Force over what kinds of aircraft the ground combat branch should be allowed to operate.

Fearing another caustic battle, Army officials declined to get involved with the PA-48 campaign.

When their Congressional advocates finally prevailed, Lindsay and Piper seemed caught off guard by the victory. Having crashed one of the two original Enforcer prototypes, the company decided to build two entirely new aircraft for the tests.

Piper spent three years getting the planes ready for their big day. Even so, the newly manufactured Mustangs—just five percent of the parts came from surplus P-51s—had serious problems.

For one, the Enforcers lacked propeller and pilot safety features that both the Pentagon and the Federal Aviation Administration required. But perhaps more importantly, the PA-48s could not safely carry the GPU-5 gun pod.

The pod contained a smaller version of the A-10’s fearsome 30-millimeter Gatling gun. The Air Force had originally built the pods in an abortive attempt to give fast-moving fighter jets the same destructive power as the Warthog.

Without the GPU-5s, the Enforcers had no guns at all. Piper representatives promised they would fix these problems, but the Air Force insisted on evaluating the existing prototypes. The tests did not inspire any greater confidence in the design.

The flying branch did conclude the PA-48s were easy to operator and repair. But the aircraft were also under-powered and handled poorly with a full load of bombs and rockets.

Pilots also had trouble seeing targets because of the Piper’s long nose. The flyers couldn’t reliably hit anything if they were “unfamiliar with a target area,” the evaluators note in their report.

And while the aircraft were hard for heat-seekers and radars to track, the Enforcers had neither the speed nor the maneuverability to dodge surface-to-air missiles or enemy fighter planes, the official report points out.

Lastly, the single-engined attackers were almost dangerously fragile compared to the A-10. While a Warthog driver sat comfortably inside a tub of titanium armor, the Piper’s pilot had no more protection than his World War II counterparts.

True, the Enforcer was cheap. But so was the A-10—at least, when compared to other aircraft the Air Force was buying at the time.

The Warthog “was nowhere near as expensive … as the B-1 or F-15, whose respective per-unit costs were something over $60 million and $15 million,” Campbell writes.

“The A-10 … is not a sophisticated aircraft by any means,” according to Laslie

The Air Force concluded that the Piper plane possessed no meaningful advantages over the Warthog. “The Enforcer was antiquated even when compared to the A-10,” Laslie notes.

Lindsay never found a buyer for the PA-48. And having survived that challenge and others, today the A-10 continues to serve on the front lines of America’s wars. Maybe it was a waste of time but I can understand wanting to save money on aircraft. These A-10 aircraft are super expensive, however our guy's deserve the best to keep us all safe from threats abroad.

A-10's ready to go to work

A-10's ready to go to work

Piper PA-48 Enforcers

Piper PA-48 Enforcers

Commercial License May Be Required

I bought a small Drone for $100.00 a month or so ago. I love it, the video is pretty amazing, great still shots, fun to fly. I have lost touch with using a remote control but it does come back with practice. Drones are getting very popular and let's face it, everybody wants one. Amazon, to deliver packages, Hollywood to shoot movie scenes, agriculture interests to monitor crops.

And everyone is waiting for the FAA to issue regulations as to how commercial drones might be allowed to operate in the U.S. Those regulations are supposed to come out by the end of the month.

The FAA has been struggling to write the rules for unmanned aircraft for several years. In 2012, Congress told the agency to get on with it and set a deadline for final regulations by September 2015.

According to sources, the FAA is considering requiring operators of commercial drones to get a license; the drones could be flown only as far as the operator could see them, and only in daytime.

That's a lot more restrictive than commercial groups want. But John Villasenor, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution who teaches at UCLA, says the FAA is in a tough spot. "If they come out with rules that are not protective enough and then there's some sort of an accident then they will be criticized for not having been more careful with this technology," he says.

"On the other hand, if they come out with rules that are viewed as overly restrictive in the name of safety then they are going to be criticized as impeding the growth of the industry, so it's a very difficult balancing act that they have to navigate.

In fact, the industry does think that, based on the initial reports, the FAA rules are unrealistic. Take for instance the line of sight requirement. Michael Drobac is executive director of the Small UAV Coalition, which includes companies like Google and Amazon. Drobac says technology will allow drones to be operated far from where their operator is based, making use of tablets or mobile phones to control them. "The reality is that the technology is there but the FAA doesn't necessarily know it or spend enough time with it."

Right now, commercial drones are being tested at six FAA-designated locations across the U.S. Drobac says companies don't much like that restriction either, because companies are in the process of designing their drones, "and they certainly do not want to share their proprietary data with others." He says the testing at the remote locations is also expensive for companies. "It's illegal for companies to test outdoors near their headquarters", Drobac says "and so they can't bring their entire teams."

Meanwhile the FAA is dealing with another drone issue. The agency says it's receiving about 25 reports per month from pilots who have seen unmanned or model aircraft operating near their planes. The consequences of even a small drone colliding with an airplane or getting sucked into its engine could be catastrophic. Everyone from an Alitalia flight landing at New York's JFK airport to NYPD police helicopter pilots have reported seeing small drones near their aircraft.

The New York incident led to the arrest of two men on reckless endangerment charges.

When they do come out, the FAAs proposed regulations will start a lengthy comment and debate period, with industry, privacy and other interests likely to weigh in. It may eventually fall to Congress and the White House to sort it all out and decide how restrictive a drone policy should be.

I understand the concern as far as interference with commercial aircraft and personal injury. The drone's to me are safer as long as they have rotor guards installed but range is an issue. The new technology out there now allows you to fly using a simulator and GPS for locating your Drone model when it fly's out of site. When I was flying my craft that has a range of about 200 feet, a wind gust caught it and carried it almost a half a mile away and over 200 foot up in the air above some huge tree's I thought I could never fly over. Boy was I surprised!

If you buy one just be careful to avoid busy areas as you learn how to operate it. If you stay tuned with us we will keep you abreast of all the laws and the processes as the US works towards a solution. I can say that the implications for these craft as we move forward is great for the hobbyist but has some bad potential for bad guys too!

Large Drone carrying a cooler

Drone carrying a cooler

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 agreen@timesfreepress.com 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 www.militarymodelsonline.com and www.shipmodelsuperstore.com 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:

Do

• 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.

Don't

• 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

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