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We Need a National Drone Pilot Association, and We Need it Now!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by bluntnose, Jan 30, 2016.

  1. bluntnose

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    With all that has been going on in the last year to threaten our sport, is there any question that we need a national association to represent our interests in all the places which are threatening us? Beginning with the FAA, maybe joining forces with the AMA (who are the only guys I know of who are at least challenging the new registration law in court), giving us all a written legal opinion on the legality of the FAA advice to local law enforcement (so we have something to show the officer when he comes over and asks for the kind of info the FAA has directed him/her to ask for). etc. etc.

    It won't be me, it can't be me, but please somebody start pulling together the right group to effectively form up such a group. The legal and lobbying expertise are out there to provide much needed help, we need the power and clout that can only come from a national organization.

    Think about it.
     
  2. Meta4

    Meta4 Moderator
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    Are they? If so, it's news to me.
     
  3. WetDog

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    Lots of luck. I doubt you can get a big enough group of people to agree on a common set of arguments. Look at the varied opinions here - fly FPV, don't fly FPV, fly over houses, don't fly over house. Agree with FAA (hey, there are a couple of guys), disagree with the FAA.

    The totally weird part of the is that DJI, arguably the largest drone manufacturer around, simultaneously tries to drink the FAA Kool-Aid (the Geofencing beta) while blowing past FAA guidelines (5 km range - that may be visual range for Superman, but not for us normal folk).

    Nobody can figure out what to argue for...
     
  4. Ralph M

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    Count me among those who thinks the FAA is mostly right. As someone who spent the time and money needed to get a pilot's license, I have huge respect for the need for safety when it comes to operating aircraft with human beings in them. Flying in the NAS - manned or UAV - is NOT A RIGHT, it is a privilege, and I am ok with reasonable controls on my use of a Phantom 3.

    I've read descriptions of flights on this forum that are very troubling to me, and seen videos on YouTube of flights that underscore the need for some kind of regulation. The idiots and yahoos are a minority, but they unquestionably exist, and in a civil society we sadly must make rules that are designed to control the behavior of the worst among us.

    I would be willing to put my time (and some money) into at least two efforts:

    1) Lobbying the FAA for an automated, online system for notifications to airports and other restricted areas. I think the system for filing flight plans should be a model for this program. If the system is easy and quick it will be used and respected.

    2) Working with state and federal parks to allow UAV use, in a regulated fashion, within the parks. This might involve designated use days, registration at the front gate, sensitive area restrictions, etc. - but that would be preferable to the absolute bans we witness now. If you think this is quixotic, Google Brandywine Creek State Park in Maryland and read about how some UAV enthusiasts worked around the park's ban on drones with the cooperation of the park authorities.

    I think recreational UAV pilots are FAR more likely to make progress for their cause if we assume that some level of regulation is inevitable, and then strive to shape those regulations to be reasonable and efficiently implemented. To just be angry and demand confrontation with local, state and federal policy makers is doomed to fail.
     
    #4 Ralph M, Jan 30, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2016
  5. N017RW

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    There are a few groups out there.

    It will take time for 'this' to coalesce and maybe one [group] will emerge or some other future organization will emerge dominant.

    The growth potential is logarithmic and it will be difficult for any one group to represent all interests.
     
  6. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
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    There are some groups out there but none have emerged as "the one". Meanwhile the AMA looks more and more outdated and misaligned. Having jumped through all the hoops the FAA requires for commercial operations, my biggest fear is local municipalities and ignorance.
     
  7. WetDog

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    That makes sense and I just don't understand why DJI didn't go that route instead of the silly Geofence system that they did.

    And that is the only way you will ever make progress - working with at least most of the stakeholders. Yes, it's a PITA that you can't just jump out of your car and drone around in some places, but there are huge swaths of land (at least in the Western US) that you can do exactly that.
     
  8. WetDog

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    Yep. But it is early in the game. Hopefully the AMA will figure it out. The one thing they have going for them, and it is a really big thing, is the fact they have been around for a while and have some street cred. Starting a new organization (The American Association of Well Behaved Drone Pilots or whatever) will take years to get noticed on Capitol Hill and within the FAA. The latter organization being more conservative than a Southern Baptist Deacon with a 16 year old daughter.
     
  9. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
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    The AMA has this old world notion that people will only fly at flying fields in their anoraks. That's the last thing I want.
     
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  10. JTC

    JTC

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    I agree whole heartedly Ralph. I also think that we need to reshape the public's perception of what we fly by no longer referring to them as DRONES. This evokes and image of something that causes destruction and also a tool for spying. We should call them something like a quad copter, or even an UAS since that acronym isn't widely used. When I am flying and someone approaches me and asks "Is that a drone"?, I say no it is a quad copter. They then seem more interested and friendly at that point. Just an idea, but we do need to shape what the future of this hobby is to become before others do it for us.
     
  11. John Williams

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    [LINK REMOVED AS PER GUIDLINES]

    Instead of paying the AMA who've done nothing for the RC community outside of collecting millions of dollars, help support John Taylor's lawsuit against FAA.
    Drone Legal Fund - Contribute
     
    #11 John Williams, Jan 31, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2016
  12. bluntnose

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    Excellent idea, between UAS and quadcopter I much prefer quad. I'm afraid that even UAS is getting to have the connotation of something dangerous we need to legislate against.

    As to whether it's early in the game or not, I'm not as optimistic. Between the FAA rule from above and the municipalities rules from below, there's a real danger that the quads will quickly get so restricted as to take the fun out of it. One thing an association could do is present the positive side of quads to municipalities thinking of passing restrictive ordinances. As for impacting the FAA, after reading up a little on the coming development of commercial drones, my concern is that the FAA will be or already has been captured by big money interests, who see our little recreational toys as a mere nuisance to their goal of making millions from commercial quads. The FAA is supposed to be coming out with a more complete regulatory scheme for all drones, including larger commercial drones (I mean quads) later this year. Could be that's also step two in the restriction of recreational drones. Step one, mandate the registration of all quad operators (don't tell me you thought you were just registering your quad . . .), step two mandating further restrictions on the operation of all quads. These new restrictions may be communicated directly to the previously registered quad owners through their indicated means of communication, so that any later sanctions may be maintained because all quad operators are presumed to have knowledge of all restrictions.

    Slightly Orwellian? Yes. But given the public statements of the guvm'nt people involved, not really too unlikely. Certainly the best way to keep regulation realistic would be to have input to rulemaking bodies by a positive pro-quad association BEFORE the regs/ordinances are in place.

    That's my story and I'm sticking with it.
     
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  13. John Williams

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    The FAA broke the law. I wouldn't call that being "mostly right".
     
  14. John Williams

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    This entire charade is designed to close off the NAS to hobbyists and secure it for Big Drone (commercial). Appealing to the FAA will accomplish nothing as they are part of the cabal. Make no mistake, this is about MONEY and POWER. If DJI, 3DR, Yuneec and _____________ really cared about the model aircraft hobby, they'd be in court with John Taylor this month. I don't own a DJI product, but it's fairly obvious what they're doing with GEO. While 3DR is not at this time requiring users of their Solo to get "permission" to fly and recording those events (yes, DJI is doing that), 3DR is now focusing on commercial use of their products. See Dronecode. DIY support is done.

    With all this in mind, the FAA is by law restricted from further regulating model aircraft according to Section 336
    [​IMG]

    As for the argument there needs to be more "reasonable" regulation because manned aircraft pilots are concerned about safety, there are already laws on the books. The goal by anti-consumer owned UAS is to effectively ban them from NAS except for use at only "sanctioned" (read AMA) fields. Been there, done that, and one reason why I quit AMA long ago. Who wants to wait in line to fly their copter/plane? The only reason AMA welcomed MR's is increased membership ($$$). The "old guard" AMA members detest MR's and anything with FPV, GPS, gyros, accelerometers etc. I know these people well. Do a search for AMA fields and see how many pictures you can find of MR's. The field owners hate them for the most part.
     
  15. Ralph M

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    As somebody who has interacted professionally with government at all levels throughout my adult life, I don't think anybody is seeking restrictions just for control. The primary motivation is to reduce the downside if something bad happens. For the FAA, they see the potential for UAVs and manned aircraft to occupy the same space with potentially fatal outcomes. FAA officials don't want to be blamed if the worst case happens. Similarly, local and state authorities are struggling to understand the technology, but what they get loud-and-clear are the complaints from citizens about invasions of privacy, nuisance noise and even fear of physical injury.

    When it comes to the FAA, I think it will be possible to work to a reasonable set of rules. Here is why: First, there are federally required processes for gathering citizen input. If you don't think these are effective, ask the FCC about what happened with the "net neutrality" issue. If UAV owners and pilots make themselves heard, it will be reflected in the final rules. Second, the FAA is - albeit VERY slowly - accommodating itself to changing technology and use cases in the NAS. The relatively recent creation of the sport flying category is a good example. Dealing with UAVs is just the next frontier.

    As for local and state officials, two things need to happen. First, the idiots and yahoos who send their personal drones into emergency situations (fires, floods, crime scenes, etc.) need to stop. NOW. Their recklessness has pissed off law enforcement, fire fighters and other first responders. Thanks a lot. Second, UAV advocates need to pick their battles carefully. Reversals of all-out bans aren't going to happen. But, say, working with thoughtful park officials can lead to re-opening some public spaces to UAV use under reasonable restrictions.

    Finally, it is worth noting that Phantom (and Inspire) owners and pilots are not typical quadcopter users. Most of us do not fly our birds for sport; we are doing it to capture video and still images from unusual and creative perspectives. As DJI likes to emphasize, our aircraft are actually flying camera platforms. That creates some special use cases that, as we deal with authorities at all levels of government, we can and should persuasively advocate, even if it separates us from the sport guys.
     
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  16. PinnacleRun

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    I would join an association in a heartbeat and would not even question a yearly fee to be apart of it!


    Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots mobile app
     
  17. John Williams

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    As stated, there are already laws on the books. See Section 336. Reckless endangerment is a universal law that applies to more than just automobiles.

    The FAA has broken the law by creating law that doesn't exist. They also broke the law by bypassing public comments. I fail to see the difficulty in understanding that. If they are not stopped, they will assume they can do anything they want.. First, level the playing field so that everyone, including FAA, is within the law. FAA purposely waited until just before Christmas when Congress was in recess. Yet, they already had B4UFLY working and throughout the year there was much talk about what was going to happen. This was no emergency. The FAA is lying through their teeth.

    Model aircraft is well defined. FAA simply rewrote the law. If aircraft is aircraft, then hobbyists should be required to follow all the same requirements as manned aircraft pilots do. That is why Section 336 was written. FAA does not get to pick and choose which part of the law they will adhere to.

    DJI products are no more special than the DIY guys with camera platforms. One is purchased RTF, the other is not. The difference is the latter can have much more invested by several thousands of dollars, or much less depending on their preferences.

    This is what we're up against, and yes it is about money and control, basically a corporatocracy.
    RC Groups - View Single Post - I'm starting my own Official Community Based Organization
     
  18. Clipper707

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    Ralph M, great post and I agree with everything you say except the above. Without getting too much into political philosophies, I believe the sky IS the limit and we the people have a right to it. Of course, there should be reasonable controls because there will always be ignorant and/or irresponsible operators, myself included.

    Being late to the party poses its challenges, but doesn't diminish the right.
     
  19. Clipper707

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    We're asking the pre-existing owners of the airspace to carve out a slice for us. A National Drone Pilot Association is a good idea.

    The AMA has never been about wide-spread access for video/photography purposes and our objectives may not be the same.

    And can we please get over the drone word, already?
    • It's accurate.
    • It includes octos and hexes.
    • It's too late. That argument (if there was one) was about 2 years ago.
    • It's here to stay.
    Think "UAS" is better? Google "UAS" and click images and scroll down.
     
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  20. Jeff48920

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    So who is really willing to do the work?
    I will commit to doing pro bono legal work for such an outfit but someone else needs to do the executive stuff.
    This won't be a part time amateur game it's going to take real $$$ and work even with a free lawyer. Think about the fact that we will need professional or semi pro lobbyists.
    I have worked with and against federal regulators all my professional life and whiners and crybabies won't ever get in the front door.
    It will be a serious endeavor so, if you are up for an all consuming run at the Feds let's start by setting up a real forum just for this.
    Membership fees are going to be the #1 issue and anything less than $100/ year isn't going to pay the website fees.
    How committed are you really.
    An Executive Board will need to be established as well as a "corporate" structure. FEIN numbers and bank accounts will need to be established. It should be a Not For Profit structure. Are we planning on being an "educational" structure or a "club".
    If you want to be effective looked to the NRA as a template.
    Only Serious people need to apply for leadership positions. It will be a solid ***** of a job.
    We not only are going to be fighting FAA but also consider that FCC, the Professional Airline Pilots association, Air Traffic controllers and airport managers will have a dog in the fight.
    Keep thinking if the Rank and File drone fliers will spend the $$$$ to keep the Association viable.

    That is just the tip of the iceberg. Are you really this committed?
     
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