AMA Flying Sites and
the National Park Service
A few months ago, I wrote about the situation with the National Park Service (NPS) and the new policy it enacted to restrict or eliminate RC models from
flying in the parks—at least that was how it was reported in
the national media.
In reality, the NPS only eliminated individual model flying
in random areas of the park. Existing AMA chartered clubs
that have established flying sites in parks are still allowed to
fly there, and are even encouraged to do so!
In speaking with NPS officials, the AMA found that
they are definitely in favor of model flying and have great
relationships with clubs that are currently flying in the parks
and have a permit to do so.
These clubs are prime examples of how to cooperate and
work with the NPS, and as a result, have access to unique
model flying sites. The NPS understands that in many
cases, model flying is an added attraction to the park and
increases the number of park visitors who want to watch
and participate in model flying.
As you are probably aware, the FAA Modernization and
Reform Act of 2012 that was passed by Congress includes
Section 336: Special Rule for Model Aircraft. This law
requires that all pilots operating RC model aircraft within 5
miles of an airport with a control tower contact the airport
and notify it of their operation.
Although the law was created in 2012, there was no real
way to enact it. The FAA was supposed to work with AMA
to make this happen, but it was not a priority. AMA has
taken the initiative to resolve this and help get our AMA
clubs to become compliant with the law. It was determined
that the best way to make this happen was to involve the
club officers through the club rechartering process.
The AMA Safety and Member Benefits department
created a survey-type document that was included in the
rechartering kit. The document asked clubs to indicate if
they had a flying site within 5 miles of an active airport
that has a control tower. Information was included in the
document to assist clubs with this determination.
After they were complete, these documents were
returned to AMA—along with the rest of the rechartering
documents—and put into a database that noted how each
club responded to the survey questions. Those that were
not within 5 miles of an airport were marked as such, and
that concluded their role in the process. Nothing else would
need to be done. Those that were marked in the affirmative
would move on to the second phase of the process.
The next step is for the Safety and Member Benefits
14 Model Aviation JUNE 2015 www.ModelAviation.com