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FAA Policy for UAS Operations

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Old 02-15-2007, 01:47 PM
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Default FAA Policy for UAS Operations

Just released:

http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2...07/E7-2402.htm

It refers to AC 91-57 and defines model operations pretty clearly. One interesting thing is that commercial use of UAV are NOT part of what they consider a model and may therefore require operation under different rules or perhaps even being certified. This would include aerial photography and such using what we think of as a model, IF it is done for commercial uses. It may even extend to the RC blimps and such flown at sports stadiums, etc. That is clearly a commercial use.

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Old 02-15-2007, 02:10 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

Wow, my son is 15 and wants to go into business doing aerial photography with a rc heli. According to that he will have to have a certificate of airworthiness, under the experimental aircraft guidelines. Wont be long and we will have to have liscence as
a hobbiest. It is really scarry, big brother is taking over, the kings animals(hunting licsence for your own land) and now the kings air.
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Old 02-15-2007, 02:48 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

Well I'm sure the FAA is not targeting modelers who want to go in business, but they should set some kind of guideline seeing that aerial photography can and is most likely done in areas that can be hazardous or out of the ordinary. Not too many people need to have photos taken of their flying site, why would someone have to pay someone else for that? Bottom line, technology has finally caught up with RC airplanes ...... errr UA's.

But it's like anything else, you can take full advantage of having this special permit/license. If you hold this license you won't be undercut in price or service by someone who does not hold it. You can plainly advertise your business as a fully licensed and insured aerial photographer in plain site. Where the person who tries to do it without will not be able to advertise plainly. Being a "fully licensed" photographer will increase your customers desire to utilize your services instead of someone who "thinks" they know what it takes to photograph in a location which could be hazardous.

Being in business either big or small always has it's operational issues to deal with. Making money is never simple but since the advancements of UA's, you can still make money at, in fact even more thanks to some of the cool toys they have out there. It's just you have to deal with issues like this on the flip side. But those flip side issues can be to your advantage, just have to know how to take advantage of them.

Private pilots have been dealing with this for many years now. We can't hold a camera out a window and shoot a photo if we are going to get paid for it. That is only available to the person who took the time to get his/her commercial license. Why ... so that people who want to make it a business, won't be undercut by a recreational or private. It protects the person that earned his/her rating and should be rewarded for taking the extra step.

I would still pursue your business dreams for you and your son. How bad could it really be to obtain the license? Just take advantage of the situation. Get licensed, get insured and put a marketing package together that will scare your competitors away. Also you now have a reason to charge more for your services seeing a special license is required. It will all work itself out.
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Old 02-15-2007, 03:27 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

I am told by a real estate friend of mine that in thisarea, people looking to buy home want aerial views of the property and surrounding areas. I thought a heli and a camera would work. I am just exploring it.
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Old 02-15-2007, 03:34 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

ORIGINAL: JUGFLIER
I am told by a real estate friend of mine that in thisarea, people looking to buy home want aerial views of the property and surrounding areas. I thought a heli and a camera would work. I am just exploring it.
You're exactly right and you made a good point. So now you want to fly a heli in a potentially populated area, no rules, no boundaries to photograph this home. Do you want a competent pilot who holds a license to do this, or someone that can walk into a hobby shop grab a heli, camera and have 5 hours of training on G3. Could be, errr prolly is one of the main reasons the FAA wants to put licenses in the hands of commercial UA pilots. Makes total sense. We are not talking about RC fields here, but places where people live, work and play. There should be an operational standard for sure.
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Old 02-15-2007, 03:53 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations


ORIGINAL: STLPilot

ORIGINAL: JUGFLIER
I am told by a real estate friend of mine that in thisarea, people looking to buy home want aerial views of the property and surrounding areas. I thought a heli and a camera would work. I am just exploring it.
You're exactly right and you made a good point. So now you want to fly a heli in a potentially populated area, no rules, no boundaries to photograph this home. Do you want a competent pilot who holds a license to do this, or someone that can walk into a hobby shop grab a heli, camera and have 5 hours of training on G3. Could be, errr prolly is one of the main reasons the FAA wants to put licenses in the hands of commercial UA pilots. Makes total sense. We are not talking about RC fields here, but places where people live, work and play. There should be an operational standard for sure.

You make valid points.
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Old 02-15-2007, 03:54 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

ORIGINAL: JUGFLIER

I am told by a real estate friend of mine that in thisarea, people looking to buy home want aerial views of the property and surrounding areas. I thought a heli and a camera would work. I am just exploring it.
I actually know of a few folks who do this type of thing. It would look at first blush that the FAA would not consider this recreational RC modeling but rather a commercial use. Not sure that they have any plans to do anything about this type of flying however.
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Old 02-15-2007, 04:25 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations


ORIGINAL: JUGFLIER

I am told by a real estate friend of mine that in thisarea, people looking to buy home want aerial views of the property and surrounding areas. I thought a heli and a camera would work. I am just exploring it.

You would be better off and make a lot more money if you simply download Google Earth Pro.
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Old 02-15-2007, 04:30 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

I actually know of a few folks who do this type of thing. It would look at first blush that the FAA would not consider this recreational RC modeling but rather a commercial use. Not sure that they have any plans to do anything about this type of flying however.
Commercial is commercial, if you make money from it. I doubt the FAA would put levels on commercial use for UA's pilots, just like plumbers need to be licensed to take hair out of your drain or run new pipes in your entire house. When you make money from anything, even a little, it's no longer a hobby, it's a business. The perk of the business is that you get to play with really cool toys, but it shouldn't sway you away from having fun while making money because the FAA wants you to hold a license. Just think of it as a privilege, a reward for a job well done, i.e. a license.

The only thing in question would be commercial training of other RC pilots??? The AMA says you can do it under their insurance, but will the FAA allow it??? I'm wondering if commercial RC training falls under AC 91-57 or not? Wonder if someone from the AMA could chime in.

You would be better off and make a lot more money if you simply download Google Earth Pro.
You won't get anywhere close to the resolution from Google Earth as you will from 400' with a good camera. Google Earth is good for site surveying, but not for what a homeowner wants to see, even with the enhanced versions. Plus there are a lot more applications for UA commercial pilots then just shooting homes which are more desirable then what even a commercial fs pilot can snap, especially horizontal to vertical shots at low altitudes. Much cheaper then hiring a fs heli photographer.
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Old 02-15-2007, 10:44 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

I guess you haven't had the opportunity to see the "good stuff" in Google Earth. You'd have to get awful close with the camera to match it.
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Old 02-16-2007, 06:11 AM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

Here is an enhanced version of Google Earth. This is as good as it gets for Google. [link=http://earth.google.com/images/sampleprint.jpg]LINK[/link]

Here is a typical real estate aerial shot. [link=http://www.ctrivervalley.com/images-pictures-photos-of/Aerial-Photos-Pictures-CT/Connecticut-Attractions/55A-Katharine-Hepburn-House.jpg]LINK[/link]

Google even markets the real estate version for customers who want to survey the area, but not the home. That's where a commercial UA pilot would come in handy. Like I said before, making money is never easy, there is always work involved. If it was easy as making a lot of money from a $600 investment in Google, I'd be there too.
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Old 02-16-2007, 10:14 AM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

Good thread guys. STL i am looking at what would be a good platform. I know the camera will also determine it, but these are my considerations. Probably electric for noise issues, esp. in residential areas. I'm thinking electric will be more stable with less vibration, and no smoke to obscure the picture.

I am thinking of a digital system for the camera with a ground monitor. The ability for one person to fly it, and the other one direct and take the best shots. You think i'm on the right track?
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Old 02-16-2007, 10:49 AM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

This worries me a bit because I know I fly above 400' in some cases. It also states that it is understood that models will be flown within visual distances. I can see most of my planes higher than 400'. I guess somewhat of a loop hole there.


Model aircraft should be flown below 400 feet above the
surface to avoid other aircraft in flight. The FAA expects that
hobbyists will operate these recreational model aircraft within visual
line-of-sight.
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Old 02-16-2007, 10:59 AM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

The visual line of sight is meant to define planes under the direct control of the pilot and not under autonomous control. The AMA Safety Code has similar wording in it.
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Old 02-16-2007, 11:11 AM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

JugFlier,
I talked to a guy recently in Nashville who does this type of work with a heli. He uses an electric version with a very large high discharge NiMH if I remember correctly. He converted the heli himself and told me he gets flight times of around 12 minutes which is plenty for what he is doing. With the light wieght cameras which are available there is no limit to what will be available in the future which these types of platforms.

AS to a business venture, my guess is that it will be pretty simple in the future to get the FAA to certify these, especially since they already have a pretty well documented history. Of course it may take them a while to get some type of "license" made up for AUV types of operators, but I am only speculating since this all appears to be a new issue which we were alerted to a year or so ago by those in the know. If you do a search you will see where we were all being warned that it was coming. Like you said the king is going to get his, and any where there is potential for you to make a dollar, the government is going to intrude to make sure they and the insurance company gets their cur. Don't foget also the local business licenses which will find their way into your pocketbook.

I am sure your son though would be able to handle the heli project, I have seen him fly, he has good hand and eye coordination and should have no problems making a go of it.
Tommy
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Old 02-16-2007, 01:53 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

I am hoping he may be able to help work his way thru college. Thought this may be better than wal-mart.
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Old 02-16-2007, 03:29 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

JugFlier,

Funny you should mention insurance in this. Yes, the commercial ventures will no doubt require insurance. Any ideas which way the rates might go? No doubt driven by perceived risk until some good statistics can come into play. Plus a little greed on the side of the insurance companies. But I think more importantly, due to the "similarities" with the hobby, what this might do to AMA insurance, the AMA, membership dues and even the hobby in general?

Especially considering any idiot can strap a camera to a model, chuck it into the air and whack something or someone with it. Then claim he's just combining his two hobbies of R/C models and photography! Would AMA insurance pay? This certainly opens a whole new realm of possibilities!

The Mule
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Old 02-16-2007, 03:44 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

It doesn't really suprise me that both on this thread and those over at RC Groups that are addressing this issue. It appears that most of the people responding haven't read what the FAA is proposing. WRT model airplanes used for commercial photography

The FAA recognizes that people and companies other than modelers
might be flying UAS with the mistaken understanding that they are
legally operating under the authority of AC 91-57. AC 91-57 only
applies to modelers, and thus specifically excludes its use by persons
or companies for business purposes.
The FAA has undertaken a safety review that will examine the
feasibility of creating a different category of unmanned ``vehicles''
that may be defined by the operator's visual line of sight and are also
small and slow enough to adequately mitigate hazards to other aircraft
and persons on the ground. The end product of this analysis may be a
new flight authorization instrument similar to AC 91-57, but focused on
operations which do not qualify as sport and recreation, but also may
not require a certificate of airworthiness. They will, however, require
compliance with applicable FAA regulations and guidance developed for
this category."

THAT is an increadably flexible and revolutionary concept for most of the folks in DC.
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Old 02-16-2007, 03:50 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations


ORIGINAL: Stubborn Mule

JugFlier,

Funny you should mention insurance in this. Yes, the commercial ventures will no doubt require insurance. Any ideas which way the rates might go? No doubt driven by perceived risk until some good statistics can come into play. Plus a little greed on the side of the insurance companies. But I think more importantly, due to the "similarities" with the hobby, what this might do to AMA insurance, the AMA, membership dues and even the hobby in general?

Especially considering any idiot can strap a camera to a model, chuck it into the air and whack something or someone with it. Then claim he's just combining his two hobbies of R/C models and photography! Would AMA insurance pay? This certainly opens a whole new realm of possibilities!

The Mule
The only commercial entity the AMA would pay for is for commercial flight instruction. This has nothing to do with the AMA or a hobby, this is a business which involves using a RC aircraft, no different then using a full scale aircraft. Insurance is the price of doing any business and as far as the price goes, it will be a custom quote which could be as much as 10%+ of your revenues, but that's the cost of doing any kind of business. But who pays for that? The customer pays for it in the end, just bill it into your rate. If you look around there are not a lot of established businesses that do RC photography, sounds like a good time to get into it now and take advantage of a broad and potential market. He who gets his name out there first and offers the best service wins.
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Old 02-16-2007, 04:08 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations


ORIGINAL: STLPilot


The only commercial entity the AMA would pay for is for commercial flight instruction.
I am not sure what you meant to say but I believe the AMA covers only casually (non professional) paid flight instructors...not commercial enterprises.
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Old 02-16-2007, 04:18 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

ORIGINAL: littlecrankshaf
ORIGINAL: STLPilot
The only commercial entity the AMA would pay for is for commercial flight instruction.
I am not sure what you meant to say but I believe the AMA covers only casually (non professional) paid flight instructors...not commercial enterprises.
From the insurance policy overview: The policy does NOT cover business pursuits; that is any activity that generates income for a member beyond reimbursement of expenses, except coverage is provided for an individual paid flight instructor.

You can take it as commercial or professional as you want, either casually, full time or a full blown commercial RC flight school, what's the difference what you call it? Does it depend on the amount of money you bring in? Go see how much Jason Shulman charges for his services $250-$600 a day, I'd call him a professional. Why would you not want to utilize a professional person and service to teach you how to fly RC?

Again there is no casual commercial business, you get paid or you don't get paid, beyond reimbursements and it's commercial. The FAA says the same exact thing for FS pilots. This protects the guy who wants to do it as a side job or a full time gig. Either way it benefits the AMA and that's why they support it. The AMA does not address how big you can take it i.e. the amount of revenue you can bring in. Why would they, more members for them. Prolly the same reason they have the $1 program for kids, in the end, they'll get theirs.
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Old 02-16-2007, 09:01 PM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

Guys, for all reading this thread. Esp. if you are an electric flier and dont think you need AMA. It is the issues like those dealt with in this thread that the AMA is dealing with. There is no question that without the AMA this FAA document would look much different. Last week myself and another club member was talking to Jay Mealy and he made reference to the fact that he had a meeting with the FAA later that day. Less than a week later, this. I know the AMA is not a perfect oganization and yes you can fly your park flier just about anywhere, and yes your homeowners policy is your primary insurance, but its worth 58 bucks a year to make sure we don't lose this hobby. Or we will all have to go back to control- line or free flight.
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Old 02-17-2007, 03:23 AM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

It looks to me as though the AMA has lobbied so well, we'll never have anything to worry about regarding the R/C modeling hobby. It's all in the bag, a done deal.

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Old 02-17-2007, 03:43 AM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

ORIGINAL: STLPilot

ORIGINAL: littlecrankshaf
ORIGINAL: STLPilot
The only commercial entity the AMA would pay for is for commercial flight instruction.
I am not sure what you meant to say but I believe the AMA covers only casually (non professional) paid flight instructors...not commercial enterprises.
From the insurance policy overview: The policy does NOT cover business pursuits; that is any activity that generates income for a member beyond reimbursement of expenses, except coverage is provided for an individual paid flight instructor.

You can take it as commercial or professional as you want, either casually, full time or a full blown commercial RC flight school, what's the difference what you call it? Does it depend on the amount of money you bring in? Go see how much Jason Shulman charges for his services $250-$600 a day, I'd call him a professional. Why would you not want to utilize a professional person and service to teach you how to fly RC?

Again there is no casual commercial business, you get paid or you don't get paid, beyond reimbursements and it's commercial. The FAA says the same exact thing for FS pilots. This protects the guy who wants to do it as a side job or a full time gig. Either way it benefits the AMA and that's why they support it. The AMA does not address how big you can take it i.e. the amount of revenue you can bring in. Why would they, more members for them. Prolly the same reason they have the $1 program for kids, in the end, they'll get theirs.
Even after STL's lengthy reply I am not sure what his point is...If there are others that are unsure as well, I thought I would post this:

C:\PDF\#500-H.doc 040327 ism
Liability Insurance Protection Program
For Paid Instructors
(February 7, 2004)
AMA recognizes that the number of volunteer flight instructors is limited. We also realize that, generally, “club training nights” are limited to once or twice per week. While we believe that the traditional form of teaching a new modeler to fly as a benefit of joining a club is an important aspect of
the Academy and our system of chartered clubs, we also appreciate the fact that there are times when a club’s training program may not fit into the schedule of some new modelers. Many of those new to model aviation have limited and specific times in which they can enjoy their new hobby. Some want to advance their skills more quickly or be trained at their convenience. They are willing to pay a reasonable fee for this.
To ease the burden on our volunteer instructors AMA sees a place for those that instruct for a fee. In
fact, there are several, full-time, commercial RC Flight Schools operating very successfully in the United States, which are not insured by the AMA’s liability insurance company.
AMA has developed a program, outlined below, to provide “paid instructors” with liability insurance protection.
1. As a benefit of membership, AMA’s insurance protection will extend to those members who provide flight instruction for a fee on a casual basis.
2. This coverage does not extend to any commercial operation or business pursuit.
3. The coverage only applies when an AMA member is instructing another AMA member.
4. The coverage only applies when the instruction is being provided at a recognized model flying facility or during an AMA chartered club's previously planned and advertised "official" event.
5. Clubs reserve the right to either allow or disallow the use of their facilities to a paid flight instructor while providing instruction for a fee.
6. Clubs reserve the right to charge a fee for the use of their facilities to a paid instructor member when instructing for a fee. All agreements pertaining to these fees will be a matter strictly between the club and instructor.
7. AMA will provide, on the AMA Website in the Members Only section, a searchable database of all members who wish to be identified as flight instructors. This database will include both volunteer instructors and those that charge a fee. Inclusion in this database is on a voluntary basis. It is the instructor’s responsibility to insure that his or her name is listed and that the information in that listing is accurate. The database will include the instructor’s name, address, telephone number, email address, and club affiliation. There will be an indictor next to the names of those instructors that charge a fee.
8. AMA assumes no responsibility and makes no assertions as to the competency of any instructor listed in this database.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So you can see for yourself AMA's position. BTW I think Hossfly had a big hand in getting this one through. Thanks Hoss!

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Old 02-17-2007, 08:33 AM
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Default RE: FAA Policy for UAS Operations

It's funny that someone so supportive of finding the loopholes to shoot paintballs at airplanes can't see the loopholes in this policy.

1. As a benefit of membership, AMA’s insurance protection will extend to those members who provide flight instruction for a fee on a casual basis.
---With no set limit.

2. This coverage does not extend to any commercial operation or business pursuit.
---Other then the fact you can charge whatever you want.

3. The coverage only applies when an AMA member is instructing another AMA member.
---Terrific, $500 a day which includes a free membership to the AMA if you don't have one already.

4. The coverage only applies when the instruction is being provided at a recognized model flying facility or during an AMA chartered club's previously planned and advertised "official" event.
---Since when does the AMA recognize a "flying facility". What is a flying facility? The field in my backyard would suffice, I hereby recognize it.

5. Clubs reserve the right to either allow or disallow the use of their facilities to a paid flight instructor while providing instruction for a fee.
---What a bunch of guys.

6. Clubs reserve the right to charge a fee for the use of their facilities to a paid instructor member when instructing for a fee. All agreements pertaining to these fees will be a matter strictly between the club and instructor.
---Ahh so clubs can even get a piece of the action and the deal is only between the club and the instructor. $400 a day for me, $100 a day for the club. Which club is going to turn that down. I'll have 5 students at a time, net the club $500 a day, lotta clubs would jump at that.

7. AMA will provide, on the AMA Website in the Members Only section, a searchable database of all members who wish to be identified as flight instructors. This database will include both volunteer instructors and those that charge a fee. Inclusion in this database is on a voluntary basis. It is the instructor’s responsibility to insure that his or her name is listed and that the information in that listing is accurate. The database will include the instructor’s name, address, telephone number, email address, and club affiliation. There will be an indictor next to the names of those instructors that charge a fee.
---Terrific, I'll get my name on the list!

8. AMA assumes no responsibility and makes no assertions as to the competency of any instructor listed in this database.
---Cool.

If I was to ask whomever at the AMA if I'm right about any of this wouldn't their response be something the same as asking about if paintball is ok? Something that would sound like "at this time we see no breech of AMA agreement with your flight instruction". It's funny how selective your mind is. You realize that if you had another job then just to follow my posts, we would never communicate? That would be nice.
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