It’s contagious

The disease called Government.

We have all heard of the confusion the seeps from the ATF and their ever changing regulation decisions. But in the case of this federal agency, they actively participate in and promote what they currently deem illegal.

The attraction of drone racing is easy enough to understand. What puzzles me is how an organized sport could emerge in the face of what appears to be a legal prohibition on the whole activity.

You see, in June of 2014 the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued its “interpretation” of current regulations on model aircraft, an interpretation that bars FPV flight. Or at very least, it bars the used of video goggles for FPV. Whether you can use a video monitor to fly a radio-controlled model aircraft is open to interpretation of the interpretation.

The FAA’s justification for prohibiting FPV is that the pilot’s eyes are not on the aircraft, which in its view is contrary to the part of the 2012 law that says that for a flying device to be considered a model aircraft, it must be flown “within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft.” Traditionally, modelers have taken “visual line of sight” to mean that the model must be close enough that the pilot can see it if he looks in the right direction. But with its 2014 interpretation, the FAA redefined this phrase to mean that the pilot needs to keep the model in sight at all times, and it very specifically prohibited the use of video goggles.

You’d think that after issuing such a formal statement, the FAA would frown on something like the recent Drone Nationals. In fact, the FAA fully supported this competition and even sent two representatives to Sacramento to attend. “We started a dialog with [the FAA] from the moment we designed the event,” says Scott Refsland, one of the organizers.

Hopefully they weren’t just there collecting evidence.

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