Where is RC aircraft flying allowed in the US?

fooot
  • Where is RC aircraft flying allowed in the US? fooot

    In the US, where are you allowed to fly RC aircraft? AMA says you should stay away from airports and below 400 feet. Is there any actual law about this?

    I'm guessing you are free to fly on your own property. How about other places? Does it have to be an actual RC field? Can it be a park, as long as you don't endanger anyone?

    If this varies with local rules, is there some reference for finding more information about which areas allow/disallow it?

  • The short version is that it isn't regulated (yet). For more details, read on.

    FAA has an Unmanned Aircraft (UAS) Questions and Answers page on their website which addresses this:

    Do I need to get approval from the FAA to fly a model aircraft for recreation?

    No. FAA guidance does not address size of the model aircraft. FAA guidance says that model aircraft flights should be kept below 400 feet above ground level (AGL), should be flown a sufficient distance from populated areas and full scale aircraft, and are not for business purposes. 1, 2

    The footnotes refer to the Advisory Circular Model Aircraft Operating Standards, which states:

    1 - PURPOSE. This advisory circular outlines, and encourages voluntary compliance with, safety standards for model aircraft operators.

    2 - BACKGROUND. Modelers, generally, are concerned about safety and do exer- cise good judgement when flying model aircraft. However, model.aircraft can at times pose a hazard to full-scale aircraft in flight and to personsand property on the surface. Compliance with the following standards will help reduce the potential for that hazard and create a good neighbor environment with affected communities and airspace users.

    3 - OPERATING STANDARDS.

    a. Select an operating site that is of sufficient distance from populated areas. The selected site should be away from noise sensitive areas such as parks, schools, hospitals, churches, etc.

    b. Do not operate model aircraft in the presence of spectators until the aircraft is successfully flight tested and proven airworthy.

    c. Do not fly model aircraft higher than 400 feet above the surface. When flying aircraft within 3 miles of an airport, notify the airport operator, or when an air traffic facility is located at the airport, notify the control tower, or flight service station.

    d. Give right of way to, and avoid flying in the proximity of, full-scale aircraft. Use observers to help if possible.

    e. Do not hesitate to ask for assistance from any airport traffic control concerning compliance with these standards.

    Note that this is "guidance" and recommended procedures that the FAA "encourages voluntary compliance with" in order to "reduce the potential for hazards and create a good neighbor environment with affected communities and airspace users."

    That being said, any city/county/state could have rules on their books, but there is not national guidance for this.

  • General American law: it's legal if it ain't illegal. And there's no overarching law that covers all RC airplanes. So the law is you can fly them except where you can't. That may sound unhelpful, but my point is that unless where you are has specific laws or rules against it, you're fine. There's also a general restriction on commercial use.

    What many people don't know about is Temporary Flight Restrictions(TFRs). TFRs happen all over the country for all sorts of reasons, and they are just what they sound like: a temporary restriction on flying over a certain area. They could be for wildfires, or large events, or VIPs. When the President of the US travels, there is usually a 30 mile radius TFR put up around the area.

    The reason I bring this up is these TFRs almost always include "no RC airplanes" as a restriction. So the President visits a city 25 miles away, you fly your RC airplane in your backyard, and you're technically breaking federal law.

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