D.C. RC, Drone Clubs Shuttered

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The FAA has reminded more than 30 RC model and drone clubs in the Washington, D.C., area to at least temporarily shut down or risk enforcement action. In mid-December, the agency sent an email to the clubs saying it's strictly enforcing a 30-mile zone around Reagan National Airport in which anything that flies must be in direct communications with air traffic control. The FAA announced the inclusion of remotely piloted aircraft in the 30-mile zone in September and sent out a warning Dec. 15 to the Academy of Model Aircraft (AMA) and the D.C. Drone User Group. “We are hearing reports that some individuals may be flying inside the SFRA even though they know it is in violation of the current airspace restrictions,” the FAA said in an email to the groups. “We are asking for your help in spreading the word to the National Capital Region model aircraft community that such activity is subject to enforcement action.”

In the email, the FAA's Brian Throop says the plan is to create a "special exemption" for hobby operations but any violations of he current rule could delay or even derail the effort. "We know that the vast, vast majority of model aircraft hobbyists/enthusiasts, whether they are members of a formal organization or not, wholeheartedly follow the rules, police themselves and others, and do everything they can to operate safely and legitimately," Throop said. The AMA is imploring its members to comply with the directive and the drone group is planning to host more indoor events so its members can fly legally.