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"Drone" vs "Model Aircraft"

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"Drone" vs "Model Aircraft"

Old 12-10-2015, 01:01 PM
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cj_rumley
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Default "Drone" vs "Model Aircraft"

There has been a lot of discussion of late prompted by DOT/FAA intention to require registration of small UAS. The agencies made no attempt at making a distinction between categories of recreational sUAS, but the apparent consensus is that a line between them needs to be drawn. I share that view, though it isn't always clear which side of that line folks are referring to when using the terms. Here is how I attempt to define the gist of it in very general terms, rather than technical and/or legalese fine print. If you have different meanings intended in the course of discussions here, please join in and say so. And yes, my take is intended to provoke, so lay on retorts to that as you will.

Model aircraft
- any remotely controlled unmanned aircraft flown by an operator in possession of a current AMA membership card. Operated in accord with AMA Safety Code, which overrides any regulatory requirements, limitations and constraints that may be advised or imposed by FAA unless endorsed by the AMA Executive Council, by incorporation in the AMA SC.

Drone
- any remotely controlled unmanned aircraft formerly known as a model aircraft (prior to sec. 336) flown by an operator that is not in possession of a current AMA membership card. Expected to be operated in accord with FAA regulations and/or advisories. Currently the authorization to fly them is the Advisory Circular 91-57 (as revised). Object of contempt for real model aircraft flyers (def. as revised).
Old 12-10-2015, 01:44 PM
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init4fun
 
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Hi CJ ,

My simple definition is ;

Model Aircraft = Flown for fun , within line of sight of the operator .

Drone = Flown for a specific mission other than just the fun of flying (photography , search & rescue , weather data , etc) , within sight of the operator or not .

A Model Aircraft's only mission is the fun of seeing it in the air (candy drops and battle re enactments counting as fun , rather than mission) .

A Drone is not flown for fun , it's flown for the business of whatever mission is assigned to the flight , and is nothing but a tool to facilitate the mission's goal .
Old 12-10-2015, 02:02 PM
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Hold on just a second here. There are many people that have photography as their hobby. It just so happens that the Multi-Rotor (or even a helicopter, requiring more skill) are a perfect platform to fly a camera around to get a photo from unique angles. The photo hobbyist is doing it for fun. That person may not be an AMA member or even know about the AMA.

The line should be drawn between commercial and hobbyist. With an exception with the commercial side. Which is allowing hobby manufactures to continue as normal, and events to have cash prizes.
Old 12-10-2015, 02:12 PM
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Nope , no flying cameras whatsoever that aren't part of AMA doc. # 550 condoned FPV .

Now Tim , your definition may differ from mine , and that's exactly what CJ wants to hear , ALL of our ideas of the difference between the two devices .

Flying cameras are the bane of the traditional model aircraft's existence ! Wench ! fetch my my torch & pitchfork ! I'm a goin DRONE huntin ! ......
Old 12-10-2015, 02:14 PM
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Kidding , just kidding !

Maybe .....

But I DO stand with my post # 2
Old 12-10-2015, 02:27 PM
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cj_rumley
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Originally Posted by init4fun View Post
Hi CJ ,

My simple definition is ;

Model Aircraft = Flown for fun , within line of sight of the operator .

Drone = Flown for a specific mission other than just the fun of flying (photography , search & rescue , weather data , etc) , within sight of the operator or not .

A Model Aircraft's only mission is the fun of seeing it in the air (candy drops and battle re enactments counting as fun , rather than mission) .

A Drone is not flown for fun , it's flown for the business of whatever mission is assigned to the flight , and is nothing but a tool to facilitate the mission's goal .
I like it, init. My KISS criteria to distinguish between them has been 'where' and 'how' they are operated and you add 'why.' Makes sense. My immediate thought 'was why leave out photography/cinematography?' but on a moment's reflection it really doesn't leave it out - just moves the platform used as a 'tool' for that pursuit into the drone category.
Old 12-10-2015, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by cj_rumley View Post
I like it, init. My KISS criteria to distinguish between them has been 'where' and 'how' they are operated and you add 'why.' Makes sense. My immediate thought 'was why leave out photography/cinematography?' but on a moment's reflection it really doesn't leave it out - just moves the platform used as a 'tool' for that pursuit into the drone category.
Thank You for the kind words CJ .

All joking aside , of course I would not now or ever ban aerial photography . But I would call the tool used to accomplish that goal a drone rather than a model aircraft . So now we have the "where" , "how" , and "why" covered , I truly do look forward to reading others' ideas on this
Old 12-10-2015, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by TimJ View Post
Hold on just a second here. There are many people that have photography as their hobby. It just so happens that the Multi-Rotor (or even a helicopter, requiring more skill) are a perfect platform to fly a camera around to get a photo from unique angles. The photo hobbyist is doing it for fun. That person may not be an AMA member or even know about the AMA.

The line should be drawn between commercial and hobbyist. With an exception with the commercial side. Which is allowing hobby manufactures to continue as normal, and events to have cash prizes.

And I have said many times that MR/AP is a fine hobby onto itself, but it is NOT model aviation.
Old 12-10-2015, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by init4fun View Post

A Model Aircraft's only mission is the fun of seeing it in the air (candy drops and battle re enactments counting as fun , rather than mission) .

A Drone is not flown for fun , it's flown for the business of whatever mission is assigned to the flight , and is nothing but a tool to facilitate the mission's goal .
So by this definition as was pointed out by another person on another forum, giant scale glider aerotow tug pilots would be flying drones and not model aircraft since the sole purpose of the flight is to accomplish a task, e.g. launching a scale glider.
Old 12-10-2015, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Silent-AV8R View Post
So by this definition as was pointed out by another person on another forum, giant scale glider aerotow tug pilots would be flying drones and not model aircraft since the sole purpose of the flight is to accomplish a task, e.g. launching a scale glider.
Silent , there will always be folks who need to pick apart every last letter of every word , but it really isn't all that difficult ;

A Tow plane towing a glider is part of the glider's launch gear , and since the glider is being flown for fun , it's support equipment of course falls into the model aircraft designation .

Simple logic ..... This must be lacking on whatever lesser RC forum you've been hanging out at .
Old 12-10-2015, 03:25 PM
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cj_rumley
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Originally Posted by Silent-AV8R View Post
So by this definition as was pointed out by another person on another forum, giant scale glider aerotow tug pilots would be flying drones and not model aircraft since the sole purpose of the flight is to accomplish a task, e.g. launching a scale glider.
Maybe I should leave this to CombatPig..........his planes are drones because they are tools for towing around streamers and shredding those towed by other such drones.
Old 12-10-2015, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Silent-AV8R View Post
And I have said many times that MR/AP is a fine hobby onto itself, but it is NOT model aviation.
Well that is where the grey area is at. I agree partly. I would like to believe there are model aviation enthusiasts that have picked up a MR, then have attached gadgets to them like sensors, cameras and other wholesome equipment. But I also think there are more people whom have purchased a MR for the primary reason of photography.

I also believe that the photo tool will loose its appeal, and 250 FPV racing will become a dominate force in our community.
Old 12-10-2015, 03:36 PM
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The definitions need to be simple and bulletproof.
The most obvious way to differentiate between the two is..... models that are equipped to be flown beyond line of sight and models that are not equipped with that capability.
If the plane has a camera mounted to capture images, that is still Traditional RC as long as the plane is not equipped to be flown beyond line of sight.
Old 12-10-2015, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by TimJ View Post
Well that is where the grey area is at. I agree partly. I would like to believe there are model aviation enthusiasts that have picked up a MR, then have attached gadgets to them like sensors, cameras and other wholesome equipment. But I also think there are more people whom have purchased a MR for the primary reason of photography.

I also believe that the photo tool will loose its appeal, and 250 FPV racing will become a dominate force in our community.
A 3D mobile camera tripod just a fad? Not much into photography, are you.
Old 12-10-2015, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by TimJ View Post
I also believe that the photo tool will loose its appeal
Now see , I don't say this just to play "point & counterpoint , but I believe drones used as a photo tool will increase in popularity in certain operations . Look at real estate listings , they used to need a manned heli to get their great looking overhead shots for the sales listing . Now , for a fraction of the cost , they are able to hire a drone photography contractor and have the same photos for pennies on the dollar compared to the old way . I can see commercial land surveying , guided by GPS , being a lucrative drone job of the future as well .

Of course , none of the above falls into the model aircraft classification , those above listed jobs are for drones ....
Old 12-10-2015, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by combatpigg View Post
The definitions need to be simple and bulletproof.
The most obvious way to differentiate between the two is..... models that are equipped to be flown beyond line of sight and models that are not equipped with that capability.
If the plane has a camera mounted to capture images, that is still Traditional RC as long as the plane is not equipped to be flown beyond line of sight.
CP, I think you'll find wide agreement with the BLOS flying part, not so much that it is a simple and bulletproof identifying feature, though. How does anyone observing and not participating in the operation know what the craft is capable of?
Old 12-10-2015, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by cj_rumley View Post
CP, I think you'll find wide agreement with the BLOS flying part, not so much that it is a simple and bulletproof identifying feature, though. How does anyone observing and not participating in the operation know what the craft is capable of?
CJ is correct here , without any "for fun VS for a specific mission" distinction , a loophole is opened whereupon a commercial photography outfit could claim model aircraft status just by keeping the flying camera platform within sight of it's operator .
Old 12-10-2015, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by TimJ View Post
I also believe that the photo tool will loose its appeal, and 250 FPV racing will become a dominate force in our community.
Yes, in the model aviation community. I see FPV racing as just another form of pylon racing. But MR/AP is a branch of the photography hobby, not part of model aviation.
Old 12-10-2015, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by cj_rumley View Post
CP, I think you'll find wide agreement with the BLOS flying part, not so much that it is a simple and bulletproof identifying feature, though. How does anyone observing and not participating in the operation know what the craft is capable of?
CJ, the "tip off" is when the observer never sees the camera equipped plane flown beyond the limits of the field. All he sees is the plane flying the same, predictable route within the operator's line of sight.
Old 12-10-2015, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by init4fun View Post
CJ is correct here , without any "for fun VS for a specific mission" distinction , a loophole is opened whereupon a commercial photography outfit could claim model aircraft status just by keeping the flying camera platform within sight of it's operator .
Of course, Fun vs Pay is an iron clad distinction that should be at the head of the list.
I didn't submit an entire list of definitions, just one that I think is pretty solid.

Last edited by combatpigg; 12-10-2015 at 04:33 PM.
Old 12-10-2015, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by combatpigg View Post
CJ, the "tip off" is when the observer never sees the camera equipped plane flown beyond the limits of the field. All he sees is the plane flying the same, predictable route within the operator's line of sight.
I see your point, and that fits with the where and why criteria, and likely how as as well.......as in positioning the camera via FPV. Let me ask you this this - any reason in your mind why AP should not be assigned to the drone category? I tend to agree with Silent that it is a fine hobby in it's own right, but it is not aeromodeling. I don't mean that in a sense they would be banished to a lesser category than model airplane, just a different one. I am not anti drone, but I do think activities like AP require different operating standards, regulatory scrutiny, and advocacy than what you and I are accustomed to.

Last edited by cj_rumley; 12-10-2015 at 04:45 PM. Reason: left out regs
Old 12-10-2015, 05:07 PM
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We already have the "commercial use" distinction (in section 336 of the FAAModernization and Reform Act of 2012) and it did not prove adequate to the DOT/FAA.

I bet 99.99% of the drone/youtube idiots are not being paid commercially for being stupid! They are participating in recreational stupidity.

Simplest thing is "Camera equipped = not a traditional model airplane"

This definition captures 100% of the problem devices, and maybe .5% of the innocent traditional modelers. I feel bad for them but that is the breaks.

The people fighting to NOT differentiate "traditional modeling vs flying tripods" want us to all go down together. There are some interesting comment sections over on the AMA Governemt Relations blog. Some of those guys are clawing like a drowning man for any and every possible argument NOT to be segregated to a different definition. Mind you, NO ONE has said anything bad will happen to them....but deep down they KNOW what is coming from the FAA and they want us all to go down together.

Forget that!

Last edited by mr_matt; 12-10-2015 at 05:11 PM.
Old 12-10-2015, 05:11 PM
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I think the word drone used for a multirotor is a misused word. The media started using that word as it was a negative word and that is what sells for the media. Then people believe that multirotors are drones. Then the hobby retailers wanting to make money call them drones also to sell them.
Now because of the multirotor technology and FPV gear I was excited to be able to expand by hobby to use video and FPV for flying. Now that is restricted because of people not associated with the hobby has hurt that. I also think that with any regulation it will only apply to those that will want to follow it. Those not in the hobby that just go buy something and fly in a dangerous manner is what has caused us to have regulation in the first place.

Something that bothers me is other modelers calling multirotors drones. I don't know the right direction to go with this new technology.
Old 12-10-2015, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by airraptor View Post
...people believe that multirotors are drones. Then the hobby retailers wanting to make money call them drones also to sell them.
EXACTLY!! A family friend just this past Thanksgiving asked me if I still had my "drone", clearly referring to my DJI Phantom and not the RC airplanes that I have. For John Q. Public, 'drone'=multi-rotors, whether flown 10 feet or 10 miles from you, camera or not.

As to the second sentence, look no further than the advertisements in the esteemed AMA publication "Model Aviation"...heck, even Horizon Hobby (Dec issue, page 58 I think) advertises "drones", clearly referring to the multi-rotor contraptions pictured in the ad.
Old 12-10-2015, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by cj_rumley View Post
I see your point, and that fits with the where and why criteria, and likely how as as well.......as in positioning the camera via FPV. Let me ask you this this - any reason in your mind why AP should not be assigned to the drone category? I tend to agree with Silent that it is a fine hobby in it's own right, but it is not aeromodeling. I don't mean that in a sense they would be banished to a lesser category than model airplane, just a different one. I am not anti drone, but I do think activities like AP require different operating standards, regulatory scrutiny, and advocacy than what you and I are accustomed to.
The way I see it, all it takes to meet the definition that what you are doing is NOT traditional RC is to meet ANY of the criteria that we are trying to define.
OTOH, in order to qualify as TRADITIONAL RC [not a drone] your air ship as well as your actions must meet ALL of the criteria for what is defined as Traditional RC.
I know a guy who is using a camera [that weighs only 10 grams and the size of a walnut] to record his inflight RPM and capture some video as he zooms around his airfield.
This is a clever use of a camera that enhances his enjoyment of Traditional RC [TRC].

Last edited by combatpigg; 12-10-2015 at 07:02 PM.

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