Along with, I suspect, many other people, I have had an interest in aircraft and flying from a very early age. Alas, I have never been in a position financially either to gain a PPL or own any part of an aircraft except perhaps a wheel locking nut. I had a few third party fights in a Hunter and PR Canberra while serving in the RAF, and went solo in a glider while serving in Germany, because it was very cheap. On my return to the UK, I discovered that an aerotow at £2.10s (£2.50) was rather a lot out of my income of £13.6s.8d. per week. However I have greatly enjoyed flying radio-controlled models, flying the Cessna 172 on my X-plane 10 simulator, and the occasional read of your excellent magazine. The lead letter in the October issue, ‘Drone operators, and pilots’ caught my eye.
Your contributor Edward Peak clearly considers that flying an aircraft from the ground using radio-controlled contact does not make the operator a pilot. The umbrella organisation for model flying in the UK is the British Model Flying Association. If Mr Peak would care to go to the BMFA website www.bmfa.org/ and look at the members’ handbook, he will read on page 14 the exacting requirements that fall to any model flyer. At 8.1, he will see that this sport is governed by the Air Navigation Order legal framework of the CAA, and that failure to comply can, and probably will, lead to prosecution. Further reading of pages 14 and 15 will enlighten him as to the size and type of aircraft which can be flown, and the restrictions placed upon their use, particularly Article 95(167) at the top of page 15. I don’t mind if he thinks that I am not piloting a model plane, but I think he might agree that a person operating a jet-propelled model with a 3m wingspan, and a speed over the ground well in excess of 80mph, might disagree with him.
Unfortunately his experience of meeting an irresponsible (drone) quadcopter flyer tars us all with the same brush. There is some concern with regard to these individuals. The CAA may well decide that anyone purchasing one of these models may have to register first, and prove that they have received instruction from a qualified instructor before flying it solo. Many of us in the fixed-wing model brigade would welcome such a move.