Drone Pilot Challenges FAA on Commercial Flying Ban

A company specializing in aerial filmography using radio-controlled planes wants to force the agency’s hand on fines constraining for-profit drone use

Model airplanes took off as a hobby in the U.S. after the Wright brothers credited their toy helicopter as the inspiration behind their flights in the early 20th century. Comprehensive books were published on the subject, and thousands of model aircraft clubs were established. Perhaps it was the nation’s fond history of model planes that prompted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), not officially established until 1958, to avoid regulating these tech toys.

In 1981, however, that all changed. The FAA, which has the authority to regulate all American civil aviation, mentioned model planes for the first time in an “Advisory Circular,” signed by then director of air traffic services R. J. Van Vure. The document sets forth voluntary guidelines that address basic safety concerns. It essentially asked radio-controlled copter hobbyists to avoid flying their aircraft above 120 meters, and near airports, spectators (for untested planes), full-scale aircraft and noise-sensitive areas.

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