Model fly­ers

Pilot - - AIRMAIL - Christo­pher Smith, Mil­ton Keynes

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.

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