The intrusion by the Federal Government really started with quadcopters because advances in technology, and in particular avionics, turned what was once a curiousity into a "Small Unmanned Aerial System" capable of flying autonomously and so having the potential to create significant hazards to the public. Congress eventually directed the FAA to manage and control literally everything flying in US airspace. The FAA (and its predecessor agencies) and long enjoyed a mutually beneficial arms-length relationship with the modeling community and so have tried to craft regulations that fulfill their legal obligations while effectively leaving us modellers alone. Understanding this is important because many people will be tempted to fly outside this framework, that is effectively illegally. As with just about everything else the FAA does its unlikely to have consequences until something goes wrong (such as an accident) or they otherwise notice (for example, some full size pilot notices us and complains) whereupon they're likely to descend on the hapless flier like a ton of bricks.

Our agreement with the CRPD influences significantly the type of planes and how we fly them. There is an absolute prohibition on powered planes -- no exceptions -- so the planes are launched either using an electric winch or manually by throwing them like a discus. The winch launch is a bit intimidating for beginners so we also have available a less dramatic tow system built around a length of elastic known as a high start. This retriction on the use of powered planes means we cannot use the very popular "ALES" sailplane that uses a motor and folding propeller to get the plane to flying height. (These planes can be used if the popeller is removed but the tend to lack the wing strength to handle a winch launch without modification.) This lack of choice means that it sometimes can be difficult for a new flier to find a suitable plane but this is another reason to talk to us because members often know where to find a suitable plane.

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Thousand Oaks Soaring Society -- Getting Started (2)
arted (2)