Stay-At-Home Orders: Can I Still Go Flying?

by Duane Gall, AAM Safety Officer

Wow. When I signed up for this, I thought I’d be dealing with Band-Aids and fire extinguishers, not epidemiology … but here goes.

The “novel coronavirus,” a/k/a “COVID-19,” has changed our lives already & will keep doing so for the foreseeable future. Right now both Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado department of public health & environment have issued stay-at-home orders effective through Saturday, April 11. Both of these orders and a very complete list of FAQs can be found at the state’s Web site: https://covid19.colorado.gov/public-health-executive-orders-explained

The purpose of these orders is to slow down transmission of the virus by preventing any social contact (touching or breathing the same air) between individuals outside the home. To understand the power of social distancing, watch this amazing little movie: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/

Obviously a 100% lockdown is impossible; people do have to go outside to get food, for example, or fix a downed power line or walk the dog. (Studies have shown that indoor dog poop is a pretty significant health threat. Just ask any dog who’s tried it!) So “necessary activities,” and “necessary travel” to accomplish those activities, are exempt from the stay-at-home orders.

The good news is that “necessary activities” includes “outdoor activity, … [for] example and without limitation, walking, hiking, nordic skiing, showshoeing, biking or running. … [but] the permitted outdoor activities … do not include activities that would violate the social distancing requirements … “. (Amended public health order 20-24, page 5, paragraph III.A.3; emphasis added.)

I encourage you to read the orders and decide for yourself, but the conclusions I draw are:

1. We probably won’t get arrested for being at the field, or for driving to get there; and

2. We should at all times maintain at least a 6-foot distance from each other. No sitting in a cluster at the picnic table, no stooping with our heads down in a turbine model wondering why it hasn’t exploded yet, etc.

Also, in case you hadn’t heard, this particular virus seems to last for quite a while on surfaces. So if you borrow a wrench or an electric starter (remember those?) from someone who has COVID-19 and doesn’t know it yet, you may be exposed. And up to half of the people who have the disease show no symptoms at all. So while cleaning all your gear with Clorox wipes doesn’t make sense, bringing some wipes along with you and using them on your hands once in a while certainly does.

So, even though there’s no cure for COVID-19, we can make a serious dent in another nasty disease: Cabin fever! See you at the field!

Cheers,
Duane

AAM Visits Legacy High School Aeronautics Class – Feb 2020

On February 10, 2020, Arvada Associated Modelers visited Legacy High School in Broomfield. Ted Hughes and Brian Dillman met with teacher Al Godman’s aeronautics class and talked to the young folks in his class about our club, the RC hobby, training, and professional/commercial applications for RC flying. Regarding professional/commercial flying, Brian brought one of the Boulder Fire Rescue Department drones to demonstrate and to talk about how it’s used in search and rescue, law enforcement, and other ways. This was a terrific opportunity for the students to get a look at career opportunities available to them flying drones. The students were engaged and asked a lot of interesting questions. It was very cold and too frigid to fly outside, so at the end of the class everyone went to the gym for demonstration flights. Ted flew a foamy and Brian flew a quad. We hope to see some of the students at club training.

URGENT ACTION NEEDED – Unite Against Proposed “Remote ID” Rulemaking

Dear Members,

AMA Government Affairs sent us an email relating to FAA's recent Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NOPR) for "Remote ID" of UAS.  As written, this NOPR could have significant, negative impact to the modeling community and how we may conduct our hobby.  However, as usual, AMA Government Affairs does have a plan and a strategy to work with the FAA to achieve the best possible outcome (on the final rule) for its membership.  But, they need our help!

The comment period for the NOPR on Remote ID is open now.  AMA is requesting, and the Board of AAM strongly agrees, that all AMA members (and other interested parties) provide comment to FAA.  As usual, AMA has automated this process.  The instructions and link, for providing comment may be found below (in the email from AMA Government Affairs).  To begin, simply click on the "COMMENT NOW" button below.  However, you will also need to "cut and paste" the text from AMA's Template Comment into the comment box.  The Template Comment appears below.

Please note that comments are more effective if they are customized and personalize.  AMA is encouraging everyone to edit the template to include your personal experience, or create your own message entirely.  I have included a copy of my Comment on AAM's website as an example.

The comment period ends 3/2/2020, but please don't delay, DO IT TODAY!!!

Thanks in advance for your cooperation,

Joe Pirozzoli, President
Arvada Associated Modelers

AMA’s Template Comment on UAS Remote ID

I am writing in response to the FAA’s notice of proposed rulemaking on remote identification of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). I am deeply concerned that some elements of the proposal could impose significant costs on the model aviation community and unnecessarily restrict existing, safe model aircraft operations.

First, while I am glad the proposal includes an option to comply with remote ID by flying at an approved fixed site, I am concerned that the rule arbitrarily limits the number of approved sites and prohibits the establishment of new sites. As such, the rule appears designed to phase out these sites over time, rather than treat them as a viable long-term option for complying with remote ID. I encourage the FAA to view fixed flying sites as part of a viable long-term solution to remote ID, and to amend the rule to allow for the establishment of new sites in the future.

Second, the FAA must create a pathway for remote ID compliance at AMA events and competitions, which may not take place at fixed flying sites. These events take place in defined locations for a short period of time, like an air show. For remote ID compliance purposes, they should be treated like fixed flying sites. I encourage the FAA to create a light process for event organizers to apply for, and receive, waivers from remote ID requirements for these ad hoc events and competitions, many of which support local charities.

Third, the rule must consider hobbyists who fly in rural areas with little or no internet connectivity. As I read the proposed rule, I would be required to have an internet connection even if flying at an approved fixed flying site in a rural part of the country. Unfortunately, some rural areas don’t have adequate cell service, which means I could not be able to fly. Rural locations are frequently the safest places to fly because they are away from people, other aircraft and structures. The FAA needs to provide a solution for these areas, such as the ability to comply from home or other WIFI-enabled locations.

Finally, the FAA should reconsider the proposal to register each aircraft, which will impose a cost and compliance burden on the model aviation community. While individual registration may make sense for beyond line of sight operations, it is an unnecessary requirement for aircraft designed to be flown within line of sight.  We build and fly model airplanes because it is a passion; and many of us own dozens, if not hundreds, of aircraft of different shapes and sizes, some of which we fly infrequently. The time and cost involved in registering each model individually would be substantial and runs counter to the current registration framework for recreational operators. Also, aircraft that are built by hand do not have serial numbers, which makes individual registration more difficult.

Again, I urge you to carefully consider and address my concerns about the remote ID proposal. Model aviation is the natural precursor to careers in aviation, including commercial pilots and engineers and more – jobs which the U.S. desperately needs to fill. Model aviation supports a $1 billion hobby industry responsible for thousands of existing U.S. jobs. We simply cannot afford to further harm the model aviation hobby with overly burdensome requirements. 

You can also view some detailed comments made by Gordon Collyer below.

URGENT ACTION REQUIRED! Intervene on Proposed FAA Restrictions

Greetings AAM Members,
 
The FAA is at it again!  This time, under the authority granted them by the “FAA REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2018”, the FAA is proposing significant restrictions to model aircraft operations, in terms of altitude limitations in both controlled and uncontrolled airspace.  The memo below from AMA, which many of you may have already received, describes the proposed ruling.  You may recall that, for the past year, we have been operating under the assumption that we have no altitude limitation at our fields.  That may change if the FAA is able to implement these new rules.
 
What can you do?  Simple, click on the link below and fill out the form to send letters to your Congressional representatives.  For most of us that will include US Senators, Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, and US Representative Ed Perlmutter.  With just a few simple clicks you can, “Join the fight for higher flight!!!”
 
 

Thanks, and please DO NOT hesitate, ACT NOW!!!  It is extremely important that WE ALL participate in this movement.

You may contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Best regards,

 
Joe Pirozzoli
AAM Director of Public Relations

Warbirds Over the Rockies 2019

We hosted yet another great year with Warbirds Over the Rockies. There was a great turnout with some new pilots this year and several of the, being very young.

Pictures taken by Lee Jay Fingersh can be found here.

Parkway Development Update

Dear Members,
 
I’ve heard from many of you inquiring about the impact of recent developments related to the Jefferson Parkway development schedule.  I had previously reported that Parkway construction could start as early as the Spring of 2020.  However, I also cautioned (as I have on numerous occasions) that the schedule could be delayed due to unforeseen circumstances.  IOW… we didn’t know what was “lying in the weeds”.
 
Prior to very recent events JPPHA (Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority) was poised to issue, this summer, an RFP (Request for Proposal) to 3 viable candidates to design, build, operate, and maintain the Parkway.  The successful bidder would become the Concessionaire of the Parkway and be the entity that would effectively fund and construct our relocation.
 
Many of you are now aware that there are 2 very significant issues which must be resolved before any further development will occur.  They are:  1) Broomfield, one of the 3 partners of JPPHA, is wavering on its commitment to the project; and 2) the discovery of elevated levels of plutonium contamination along the Indiana street ROW (on the east side of the Rocky Flats refuge).  Failure to resolve either one of these issues could result in a substantial delay of the project.  The project schedule is currently on hold until these issues can be resolved.
 
The Airpark’s relocation is directly tied to the selection of a Concessionaire, successful financing of the project, and a “go” decision to begin design and construction.  The authority (or lack of supervisory opposition) for the project to go forward will come from many sources and entities.  And, it appears that such authority will take more time to acquire.  The amount of time it will take to resolve these issues is unknown at this time, but it is feasible that construction could still begin sometime next year.
 
I remain in contact with key individuals, both at the City and at JPPHA, for information and perspective on the issues facing the Parkway development.  However, a recent series of articles appearing in the Arvada Press is an excellent source of this information.  The 5th installment, in this series, appears in the August 29th edition of the Press.  If you are outside the City of Arvada and wish to read these articles, go to (https://arvadapress.com/eeditions/).  The 1st installment appears in the August 1st edition.  There have also been articles published in the Denver Post on the local news channels.
 
AAM’s Design and Construction committee continues to work with the City to develop and locate our new Airpark. Their work is not complete and work will continue as long as there is a clear path for Parkway development.  However, our progress will be hindered somewhat coincidentally with Parkway delays.  It would be premature to speculate on any new schedule for Parkway development until the aforementioned issues have been resolved.  And, there is always the possibility of additional issues “jumping out the weeds”.
 
All I can say for now is… be patient and I will continue to update you as things progress.
 
Have a happy and safe Labor day weekend,
 
Joe Pirozzoli, Director Public Relations
Arvada Associated Modelers

Consequences and Impact of the “FAA REAUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2018”

Members,

First, I want to thank everyone that participated in the call to action to oppose this legislation.  Unfortunately, and despite our best efforts, President Trump signed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (“2018 Act”) into law on Oct 5, 2018.  Sad news to be sure, yet according to AMA, our voices were heard loud and clear and AMA is still in negotiations with the FAA as it pertains to certain provisions of the 2018 Act.

How is the 2018 Act different than the legislation that was passed in 2012 (i.e. the “FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012)?  Primarily, as it pertains to modelers and hobbyists, the 2018 Act no longer has a “Special Rule for Model Aircraft” (formerly referred to as Section 336).  There are, however, several provisions in the 2018 Act relating to our hobby that were championed by our government affairs team at AMA.  Some of these provisions require continued dialogue and coordination with the FAA.  The provisions, in the 2018 Act, which primarily impact our hobby are contained in Section 349 (please see attached).  One of the most impactful provisions of Section 349 is the rule limiting operation of aircraft to no more than 400 feet above ground level.

Fortunately, according to AMA, there are NO changes that AMA members need to follow immediately.

AMA is telling its members that we should continue to fly in accordance with AMA’s safety guidelines and local club rules, and that existing agreements between AMA clubs and the FAA should continue to be followed.  I would add that neither AAM nor the City of Arvada are in a position or inclined (in any way) to enforce FAA regulations at this time.

The most important take-a-way from all of this is that, for now, we are operating under the same set of AMA guidelines and Club rules that have always been in place.  Of utmost importance to our future, is the continued safe operation of model aircraft according current AMA and Club rules as AMA continues to work cooperatively and diligently with FAA’s leadership in Washington to address the issues that impact our hobby.  

You can learn more about this legislation and the work that AMA is doing with the FAA at this link:

https://www.modelaircraft.org/about-ama/advocacy

Lastly, the end of the year is quickly approaching.  I would like to encourage everyone, especially those of you who have calendar year renewals, to get your AAM and AMA memberships renewed soon.

Best regards and happy holidays,

Joe Pirozzoli, Director Public Relations
Arvada Associated Modelers

URGET ACTION REQUIRED! Ask Congress to Vote “NO” on FAA Reauthorization!

Once again, we are in a battle for our rights and freedom as responsible, law-abiding modelers.
 
The last time I wrote you, we were trying to protect Section 336 (i.e. the Special Rule that protected model aircraft).  This new Bill (H.R. 302) repeals Section 336 and replaces it with a much more restrictive and onerous rules (i.e. Section 349 – see link below or the attached document).  I’ve highlighted critical items in the attached document.
 
“As written, this bill puts our community (modelers) under the authority of the FAA, which means the agency can, at any time, impose additional regulations on model aircraft. In addition, the bill specifically imposes a 400′ altitude limit on model aircraft operating within the programming of a community-based organization (CBO), which will curtail long-standing AMA competitions and events that support local charities and non-profits. These and other changes will make it even more difficult to fly and will stifle the broader benefits of model aviation to STEM education and the broader aviation community.

It is important for you to know that this bill has not yet been voted into law. This is a critical moment and Congress needs to hear from our members on the harm this bill would do to our safe, long-standing hobby.

 
The easiest way for you to write your representatives is to use the link below.  However, I highly encourage you to personalize the form letter provided.  Edit the letter to described how this legislation will also impact your individual and community activities!
 
 
Form letter provided:
 
*******
Dear [Official],
 
I am a model aviation hobbyist and I am deeply concerned about the impact the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 would have on my community, given the modifications made to the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, also known as Section 336.  I strongly urge you to vote “no” on the FAA bill. 
 
The current language in this bill is a non-starter. It puts unnecessary and burdensome restrictions in place that will curtail – or even cancel – long-standing model aviation competitions and events, which support local charities and non-profits. Beyond harming charities, the bill may stifle the benefits of model aviation to STEM education and manned aviation. Model aviation hobbyists have been flying safely in the skies since before the FAA was even created. We’re not the problem. Yet, this bill will deal a devastating blow to our hobby and the many local communities, charities and educational programs we support. On behalf of hobbyists like me across the country, I urge you to vote “no” on the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.
 
Sincerely,
[Your Name]
*******
 
Thanks, and please DO NOT hesitate, ACT NOW!!!  It is extremely important that WE ALL participate in this movement.