Radio Controlled Aircraft Hobbyists Battle With Feds to Protect Their Hobby

The FAA recently changed its mind about exempting model aircraft.

academy of model aeronautics
The AMA is leading a battle against the federal government to protect model aircraft pilots.Academy of Model Aeronautics

Radio control aircraft hobbyists are currently standing up to the FAA, Department of Defense, and select members of Congress in order to preserve the freedom of their pastime, to fly small model aircraft in select locations around the U.S. In a petition, RC pilots say their fight revolves around "Rule 336," which is a section in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act from 2012 that exempts model and remote control aircraft enthusiasts from regulation if they were flown for "hobby & recreation" purposes.

Earlier this summer, the federal government reversed the original ruling, leaving enthusiasts vulnerable to federal regulation. The FAA and some industry officials claim something must be done about ’drones/multi-rotor copters’. The claims ignore the hundreds of thousands of safe, rule-abiding fixed-wing R/C pilots, the petition said. Congress passed legislation that keeps Rule 336 intact. However, the Senate has not finished formulating its version. The clock is ticking toward the September 30 expiration of the short term authorization for the FAA’s initial changes.

The original legislation was created by Congress in the hopes of guiding the FAA in commercial drone operation, according to a Gizmodo report. The fight to protect radio controlled aircraft pilots now is being led by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, who are lobbying in Washington. "If Rule 336 is modified or removed, our hobby will be dealt a heavy blow - hobby shops will close, club memberships will drop, flying fields will disappear, and young pilots will be discouraged from the great fun of building and flying models," the petition said.