Hobby vs Commercial Operation
We're going to start off talking about the difference in flying these for hobby or for commercial purposes. I'll just switch over here to my keynotes. This is the extent of my keynote prowess; I thought, what does hobby look like, and what does commercial look like? Hobby looks like flying a fun little helicopter, well I mean it looks like a lot of things; matter of fact, your typical model airplane or whatever is upwards to like, really small and tiny and light all the way up to, I mean there's huge ones, there's large scale up to 55 pounds. There's even a special class that the Academy of Model Aeronautics has, and certain sort of safety guidelines for large scale. I mean these are almost as big as some full-scale aircraft. So anyways, this is my business partner, Phil, on the left. We're out at the local park flying our little mCP Xs, that's a little helicopter. And I'd encourage all you guys that are getting into flying, like, get yourself a little helicopter like that. It's maybe ...
a little bit more challenging to fly than a drone, but if you can fly that, it's like if you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball! If you can fly a little heli like that, matter of fact, when I was trying to get better at flying helicopters, I went from that little Blade mCP X ... now Blade is a Horizon Hobby company I think. So if you go to horizonhobby.com, you can see a lot of the helicopters they make. And they also make little fun little quads and racing quads and stuff like that. But I went from that to flying a helicopter like this big, and it was actually, the only thing that was hard was just the nerve of going from a little guy to something that could cut my head off, you know? But the little guys fly a little bit twitchier, and so if you want to get good at flying something big, honestly, start with something small, it's a little twitchy, and it'll dial you in. So, the difference between of course hobby and commercial is just that commercial is obviously that you're flying in a way that you would receive some sort of compensation, or to further a business or that sort of thing. My right picture right there is just Phil and I out working, out in a field and we're just talking, a lot of times we're talking to each other like, "Okay how are we going to do this?" It usually ends up with me saying, "And then we'll go up," you know, because it's aerial stuff. And Phil's always making fun of me, and he's like, "Let me guess, we're going to go up." I was like, "Yeah that's what we're going to do." Anyways, with hobby I wanted to make those of you that are unaware of the ... I'll put it this way: I grew up in the hobby. My dad and I flew together, and we would go to a club; we would go out to a field and we'd fly our powered airplanes and there'd be other people flying, and we learned from each other, and I'd see this guy flying this really fancy airplane, I'm like, "Oh what are you doing" and "How are you doing that?" And they'd be doing aerobatics and, you know, it was sort of a community that kind of supported each other; we'd have like, club meetings, and you know, community involvement, it was really awesome. And a lot of my memories as a kid were going to those club meetings and they'd have raffles, and it was like, young to old. That was the cool thing about the hobby, is young to old. That's actually one of the things I like about the Irish music that I play, is you see young to old people playing it. It's just like there's that community aspect. And so, the thing that we have going on right now, and I think this happened when transmitters, the transmitters that we use, they went from using like a fixed frequency, like we used to be on 72 megahertz and when you'd go to the field you'd go up to the frequency board and you'd say, "I'm on channel 24," or "I'm on channel 23." And you'd take that little card and you'd clip it to your transmitter and that way nobody would fly while you were flying, because if two people were flying on the same frequency then you'd crash, you know? Well now with the advent of these 2.4-gigahertz spread spectrum transmitters-receivers, they dynamically frequency hop, so if they see any interference, they're just going to hop onto the next frequency. And oftentimes they're locked onto at least two frequencies, and if they see any interference or degradation in signal, they're going to flip over to a clear frequency. So that's I guess how, again I'm not a computer engineer, I think we have a budding computer engineer in the room, so correct me if I'm wrong, but that's kind of how we're able to fly these on say a 2.4-megahertz system when there's also other 2.4-gigahertz frequencies and systems being used, because it's dynamically hopping around; it's always going "Okay nope that's not a good one, "let's hop to the next one." So with that it meant that you could fly anywhere; you could fly in your backyard and not feel like you were going to knock somebody else out of the sky. And so with that then, now we have drones and they're not fixed-wing aircraft so we can just take off out of our backyard, or out of our front yard. And so that's shifted things from things being centered around a community, where kind of weird modelers like myself they get together, you know, on Saturday and fly, to a lot of folks, myself included, they think "Well I'm just going to go flying, "I'll just fly in my backyard," or whatever. And that's all well and good, but some of us are missing out on some of that community involvement and support. The Academy of Model Aeronautics, it's the largest national organization for hobbyists, for modelers, And I put it in here, "What is the AMA?" Like I said, world's largest model aviation association, representing a member of over 195,000. Their website can be a little out of date, so it's probably even more than that. It's the official national body for model aviation in the US. AMA sanctions more than 2,000 model competitions throughout the country each year and certifies official model flying records on a national and international level. I actually hold nine national titles flying remote controlled sailplanes. I go to the nationals every other year now. It's actually every year, but I go every other year; it's out in Muncie, Indiana, and they have like this huge campus where you can fly anything from helicopters to control line. Control line is where there's not a transmitter; you see people go around a circle with a control line. I tried that once when I was a kid and my dad and me, we fell down and crashed, it was hilarious. That's about all we did with that. You know, they've huge places to fly sailplanes, and it's a great event, even if you're, you know, you just enjoy the hobby and flying. Sure there's competition at the top but it's just fun to get involved and fly on the national level. So, they are the organizer of the National Aeromodeling Championships, the world's largest model airplane competition. The voice of its membership, and this is probably for us, currently, this is a really important aspect. It has been always an important aspect, that the voice of its membership providing liaison with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and other government agencies through, and this is from AMA site, our national headquarters in Muncie, Indiana. Also works with local government, zoning boards, and parks departments to promote the interests of local chartered clubs. So, I mean, they're our representative for, just as hobbyists, and of course how they voice our interests on the hobby side has had a huge impact on the commercial side as we'll see with the 107. As a matter of fact, a lot of the 107 safety guidelines, they almost read like the AMA safety guidelines. Which is excellent. So, AMA benefits; so not only do they support clubs, they help us have chartered clubs and all that sort of thing, they have this National Safety Advisory Program and Safety Code Standards, so they have sort of like, the FAA says if you fly as a hobby, you need to adhere to some sort of community safety guidelines, and this is usually what they mean, is the AMA. This is probably the biggest reason to get involved with the AMA, or to be a member of the AMA. Because we're not always flying commercially, right? Sometimes we'll just go out and fly for fun or we'll practice or whatever but we're not necessarily flying commercially. Liability coverage for the operation of model aircraft, boats, cars, and rockets. So, how much? $2.5 million. And I think the last I looked it was $59 a year. So you get $2.5 million comprehensive general liability protection for model activities for members, clubs, site owners, and sponsors. So that also means if I'm like a club president or whatever, that they help cover the club in the event that anything were to happen. I mean some of these sailplanes or airplanes are big and if something were to happen, you know, there is some liability there. And AMA is there to back everybody up. They have the National Center for Aeromodeling in Muncie there, the world's only full-time model aviation facility. And again, coordinating with the FAA to promote safe regulations for flying. Oh yeah, more info: ModelAircraft.org. It was kind of funny, I was looking at their benefits and they listed like, "We have a website too." I was like, "Okay, we all have websites now," but there's a ton more information on AMA benefits. You know, the big one for us of course is just to go out and get to fly and have some sort of liability coverage, and for 59 bucks. And it also comes with a great magazine, Model Aviation Magazine, and you stay up to date with what's going on. And you know, they're our voice in Washington, and it would be great if more and more people supported the AMA so that we could have our voices heard, especially with the FAA, and it has been heard, right? So, let's see here. Oh yeah, I didn't change; it should say "AMA Safety Guidelines," so it says "AMA Benefits." So these are their safety guidelines. I'm summarizing them, because it's longer; if you google it, for AMA safety guidelines there's actually quite a long page, I'm going to try to summarize this. So basically it comes down to fly safe only where allowed. And yield to full-scale aircraft, see and avoid. That may sound like common sense, but you hear occasionally in the news that there are folks maybe pushing the envelope on that. And you know, for decades we've really had very little issues with full-scale aircraft. I mean, that's why there's a see and avoid thing, like I'm out flying and I hear a low flying aircraft coming by, that aircraft could be quite a lot higher; typically they're going to be 1,000, 1500 feet and above. And if I'm at 400 feet, 500 feet, I'm still going to be on my guard to make sure that I'm clear of that aircraft. There's something that we sometimes call the "blue sky rule," as pilots we use. Especially when you're flying line of sight, if you don't want to hit anything, if you always keep blue sky between your aircraft and whatever the object is, you're going to be good to go. We use that in contests actually, with sailplanes especially, because with sailplanes we're oftentimes in the same thermal. Thermals are these rising columns of lift that sailplanes use to stay up. You know, if you've ever seen hawk circle around in the sky, they're typically using a thermal to not have to flap their wings so that they can hunt while they're just chilling in that thermal. So oftentimes we're really close together but if we always keep turning the same direction and we have blue sky, then we're not going to hit each other. The same can be said when we're doing drone operating. The other day we were tracking a runner and at the end of the lane I saw, there was like an overarching kind of gate, fence or whatever, and you know, I was so far away I couldn't necessarily gauge like how close I was and so I just kept blue sky between the drone and the gate, and you know you're good to go. So, yield to full-scale aircraft, see and avoid, avoid flying over people. The 107 will get more specific and say "Don't fly over people." To not fly higher than 400 feet when within three miles of an airport unless notified. AMA's language is three miles; FAA's language is five miles. Honestly, if you're flying as a hobbyist within five miles of an airport, you should notify the airport. I mean, I don't know if three miles is being changed to five miles, but there was some discrepancy between the AMA and the FAA's documentation on that. So I would just err on the side of five miles, and err on the side of just don't fly near airports, right? And that's not to say that you can't fly above 400 feet as a hobbyist. I would say, I would only fly higher than that if there's any real reason to. Like for us drone photographers and videographers, especially commercially, we do have to abide by the 400-foot rule. Like, if you're a commercial operator, typically the shots are much lower. Occasionally you might go up for a nice big reveal of some place. Like when we're flying sailplanes, remote controlled sailplanes, we're oftentimes much higher than 400 feet. But again we're flying line of sight, see and avoid. Oftentimes if we're in a competition, we hear an airplane, the contest director will say, "All right come on down, we'll restart the round "when the air traffic's out of the way." But that's their recommendation, is to not fly higher than 400 feet when you're within, we'll call it five miles actually, of an airport. And of course more info at ModelAircraft.org. So, I guess the big thing is just to, I know some of you guys are really here just to like, trying to figure out for your own business, like, best practices and figure out what equipment you're maybe going to purchase and how to use it and all that kind of stuff. But before you know it you're going to have like, fun helicopters to fly and airplanes and you're going out with other friends that are doing it, sort of after hours and on the weekends. And it's super fun, and what I would say is that know that the AMA is the organization that represents us, and can insure us, and also there's usually a club. Find a club that's local, and find other guys that do it. I mean, you learn a lot from other folks that have been doing it before you. So, that's one of my favorite parts about flying is not just going out and flying by yourself but getting together with other folks and flying. Like, I do competitions and so it's super fun, not just on the competitive level but on a community level too. So I think next, let's see if I got this right, we're going to have some fun with flight modes. So I thought I'd break up sort of like the regulatory stuff with some fun stuff. So yeah, and I think we've got a video on this right?
Yeah, do you want to set up active track?
Cool. And flight modes in general maybe?