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Old May 26, 2012, 01:03 AM
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FPV Browncoat
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United States, CO, Parker
Joined Mar 2011
1,715 Posts
Hey guys, has anyone seen this?

Apparently in its May issue of AMA Today the AMA links to a survey asking for people's opinions about FPV. I haven't seen anyone on here mention it before. I just filled it out and probably told them a lot more than they wanted to hear. For starters, I said I got into FPV by watching TBS's videos. Then here's what I wrote for the open question:

The AMA must adapt to accommodate FPV or risk extinction. FPV is the future of model aviation, as the rapidly dropping cost of lightweight video cameras and wireless video transmitters make it more and more accessible even to modelers with modest budgets. With RTF FPV airplanes now hitting the market, it will not be long before anyone can get involved in this exciting new activity within model aviation. There may in fact come a time when nearly all new model aircraft sold have built-in video cameras.

At the same time, the AMA has thus far exhibited an astounding hostility to FPV, which can only be characterized as the reluctance of an aging and risk-averse organization to adapt to the challenges presented by new technology. The restrictions the AMA currently places on FPV flight are frankly absurd. I am very active in the rich online FPV community, and I can say with certainty that virtually no FPV flyer in the United States follows the AMA's rules. The most ridiculous of these rules is the buddy box requirement, which treats FPV pilots like beginners having to be coddled by an instructor. The requirement assumes that direct visual contact is superior to flying by video, when in fact the reverse is true. A live video feed from the model gives a far more precise idea of exactly what the model is doing at any given time than watching it with the naked eye from hundreds of feet away. The overwhelming attitude among FPV flyers is that the buddy box rule makes FPV less safe, rather than more, because a crash is far more likely to result from an inexperienced spotter seizing control of the model at the first sign of trouble than from the pilot simply flying through any video dropouts that may occur. Having a buddy box connected also precludes the use of other equipment like UHF control systems with far superior range and reliability compared to stock transmitters, or the use of head trackers and panning cameras. If the AMA ever wishes for its rules to be taken seriously by FPV flyers, it must at minimum eliminate the buddy box rule.

Additionally, most FPV flyers view the AMA's restriction to flying within visual line of sight as far too limiting, as most interesting targets to film from the air are further away than the couple thousand feet away one may safely control a model flying it visually. When flying through a reasonably reliable video link, it makes no difference whether the model is 10 feet away or 1 mile away. While there is a natural fear of flying a model out of sight, doing so does not substantially increase the risk of an accident, and becomes perfectly natural to most FPV flyers. While I recognize that given the current political climate this is unlikely to happen, the AMA should eliminate the VLOS requirement as well.

Finally, the leadership of the AMA has demonstrated an overwhelming hostility toward FPV that has caused most FPVers to reject the AMA out of hand. The AMA leadership has missed no opportunity to condemn certain high profile FPV flights as unsafe, regardless of the extensive safety precautions taken by those who conducted them. The most recent issue of the AMA's monthly magazine has the president of the AMA rejoicing that a supposed FPV flyer was arrested and jailed for flying over a sports stadium, despite the fact that the incident in question did not involve FPV and did not even occur in the United States but Ireland. The AMA is missing out on a growing source of enthusiastic new members, as I and many other FPV flyers refuse to participate in an organization that views us as a threat and an enemy. If the AMA is truly sincere about representing the interests of ALL modelers, it must end its knee-jerk reactions against FPV and start taking immediate steps to court those of us who represent the future of this hobby. If it does not do so, the AMA runs the risk of driving itself into irrelevance as the progress of the hobby passes it by.
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