This commercial movie-camera multicopter uses hobby-type components.
Many light commercial sUAS operators are AMA members.
sUAS aircraft, models, and us
Safety is closely tied to the future of our sport. This point was made during an aerial cinematography
event held in Hollywood. Attendees
were mostly professional and
semiprofessional operators of remotely
controlled, camera-carrying aircraft.
The AMA was represented by Rich
Hanson (AMA’s director of public
relations and government affairs and
a recent inductee of the AMA Model
Aviation Hall of Fame), who provided
an update on the federal government
as it pertains to modelers and sUAS
operators. There is a large technology
overlap between hobbyists and
Quadcopters and similar machines can
be flown for recreational, scientific, and
commercial purposes, and competitively.
These aircraft come in all sizes and
shapes, and any given machine might
be a large sport model or a small
commercial camera platform.
My concern (shared by many serious-minded commercial operators) is that
some foolish outlaw pilot will make
the news with a disastrous failed stunt
and the incident will reflect badly
on more level-headed hobbyists and
cinematographers. I’ve seen online
footage that makes me fear for the
future of our hobby. The commercial
users feel the same about their jobs!
Rich made friends and allies in
Hollywood, and I hope these people will
stand with the AMA in supporting safe
operation of sUAS—whether they are
recreationally or commercially flown.
This conference was hosted by
Canon USA, at its building on Sunset
Boulevard. After the company
generously sponsored the conference
and let me attend, I felt like a heel taking
photos with my Nikon, but Canon
officials were even gracious about that.
There were some fantastic four- and
six-rotor multicopters on display, along
with beautiful state-of-the-art airborne
Canon camera equipment. I heard the
same thing from all the factory reps:
“Hey! Don’t touch that!”
After the guest speakers finished,
we all went outside for flight
demonstrations. Wow! Those aircraft
equipped with cameras are amazing.
The pilots are serious—not only are
they acutely aware of the importance of
safely flying near people, they also have
expensive cameras onboard.
These are methodical, prudent fliers—
the type of people I think we need on
our side as we work with the FAA. The
light commercial sUAS industry could
also benefit from our help.
Thinking Outside of the Circle
Larry Renger told me about a
different effort to shape the future of
aeromodeling. He and the Knights of the
Round Circle club have been using the
new ET- 1 CL electric trainer indoors and
outdoors to give kids their first taste of CL
flight. The rugged models are made from
recycled Coroplast political-campaign
signs (insert your own joke here).
The electric power system has an RC
throttle control operated by an assistant
outside of the circle. The instructor and
trainee can concentrate on flying, and
the throttle jockey is ready to cut power.
At the 2014 AMA Expo, the club
taught approximately 60 kids how to
use the ET- 1. Airspace and flight times
were available for the CL fliers. That RC
room was fully booked with product
demos and aerobatic shows, so it was
a big deal to give this project priority.
Kudos to the organizers! I tried to get in
on the fun, but my white beard stood
out among the school kids and I was
booted out of line.
For new readers, a CL pilot holds
a handle that attaches to the aircraft
with two thin wires. The model flies in
a circle with the pilot controlling the
elevator. It is the only type of model
flying where you can actually feel your
control inputs affecting the airplane.
You won’t get dizzy if you do it
properly. If you have never tried CL, you
are missing something great.
Do you crave danger or excitement?
If so, visit the Education Resource Area
(the Free Flight room) at the next AMA
Expo. Gorilla Glue again sponsored a
101 Model Aviation APRIL 2014
SAfety comeS firSt