By Steve Neu
As most of you already know the club is working on complying with the new requirements that were put into law with the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. One small part on that law is the requirement that “drones” and model planes that weigh more than 250 grams have placed on them the FAA registration number of the operator. If you haven’t already done so, in the next few months all club members will need to register with the FAA and obtain and display the number on the outside of your models—the rules are pretty lax as to location and size so for now you can be creative in making the numbers non obtrusive. Here is the link to the FAA registration web site as well as to a AMA instructional video on the subject.
Also, as part of the same 2017 law our cub is required to obtain a “LOA” (Letter of Agreement) with the tower at Lindberg Field. This letter for the most part spells out what what we do and what safety rules we operate by. Mostly it is common sense stuff but we will all need to make sure that we observe the various requirements so as to preserve our access to a unique model flying location. There will need to be some adjustments to old habits— one of the most important ones is for pilots flying larger models and other higher performance planes to have a spotter stand with them to keep them informed of full sized aircraft that may be in our area—and to descend to 50 feet if the full size plane gets within 1 mile of our field. The requirement to descend is not new but the addition of a spotter is new and needs to be observed.
So—the bad news is that we will need to deal with some additional regulations. The good news is that with the work the “gang of 4” BOD members: Quan Nguyen, Eric Shapiro, Steve Belknap and myself plus Steve Manganelli have drafted a “LOA” and submitted it to our contact at the Lindberg Field tower for consideration. They may ask for some changes to our letter as submitted but we will do our best to make sure we can continue to operate safely with as few restrictions as possible. I want to make a special thanks to Steve Manganelli for crafting a LOA that is complete and written in the best bureaucratic style possible—30 plus years of working for the US government has not gone to waste. The feedback on the draft LOA from a former club member who now works for the FAA on safety issues was very favorable. We need to cross our fingers and wait for the response.