• I guess I’m in trouble then. Last year I was watching a utility company line crew trying to get a line across a pond near my house. They couldn’t figure out how to do it, so I attached a spool of fishing line to my R/C helicopter and flew it across the pond for them. They used it as a messenger line to haul a rope across the pond.

  • Basic blackmail: give us absolute power or we’ll refuse to do our job at all and hurt you when we can.

  • Jim,

    I think it was recreational as to you. You picked up some fishing line and flew it across a pond to test your navigation skills. It’s interesting that it’s come to the point where a decent, neighborly act of a citizen generates a legitimate worry of regulatory sanctions.

    Here’s the FAA Q&A on this, for what it’s worth:

    Do I need to get approval from the FAA to fly a model aircraft for recreation?

    No. FAA guidance does not address size of the model aircraft. FAA guidance says that model aircraft flights should be kept below 400 feet above ground level (AGL), should be flown a sufficient distance from populated areas and full scale aircraft, and are not for business purposes.

  • Russell,
    I wasn’t too worried about it then and I’m not now. I’ve dealt with the FAA for most of my adult life and I’m not surprised at their opinion on this.
    I have to wonder how much of this is a desire to have control of anything that flies or is it pressure from some parts of the aviation industry? One of the mandates of the FAA is to promote the aviation industry. Some components of that industry are aerial surveying and aviation photography.
    I find it interesting that the FAA chose to prosecute a person for making a movie with what it calls a “drone”. The only other way to make that movie would involve hiring a company that does aerial photography and paying for the use of their helicopter and personnel.
    That would have cost tens of thousands of dollars, taken several days and would have required a permit from the FAA. Now it can be done in a few hours with equipment costing around a thousand dollars.

    I also noticed that the word “drone” is used to describe the aircraft used to make the movie. The definition of “drone” when it is referred to aircraft is an aircraft that is autonomous, meaning controlled by itself. When I flew my helicopter across the pond it was a RPV, remotely piloted vehicle, not a drone.

    I used to work for a utility company line crew. When I think about the time spent and the number of sprained ankles we had pulling cables down a heavily grown right of way, I wish that the FAA would make up it’s mind. I can see a business opportunity in flying messenger lines down a right of way with my R/C helicopter.

  • Meanwhile, in Montana, where’s the FAA when you need it?

    Watch a Congressional Candidate Shoot Down a ‘Government Drone’