Monday, June 20, 2011

Model plane pilots worry over looming regulation

WSLS10: Model plane pilots worry over looming regulation

Pilot Matthew Shimchock loves being behind the controls of his warbird. "You can have the same effect of having several of these warbirds up in the air at the same time, flying in formation, chasing each other around," he said.

It's a hobby he and the one hundred members of the Roanoke Valley Radio Control Club take seriously. "As little as a few hundred dollars or you can spend several thousand dollars
and several hundred hours of your free time putting together models."

And more people across the country are doing it. So much so, the Federal Aviation Administration is getting involved and looking into regulating unmanned aircraft systems and possibly setting strict limits on the model planes."How high we go, how fast we can go, how far we can go," Shimchock explained.

The FAA says its concern is safety, the safety of more than 100,000 aviation operations a day, including commercial air traffic and cargo operations. Radio control pilots argue their pastime is safe. "They fly from one point and return to the same point and usually flying around in a very fixed, controlled area," Shimchock said.

The FAA expects to rule by the end of the year, leaving Shimchock to appeal to his congressman and hoping the federal agency won't come down too hard on remote pilots.

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