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View Poll Results: How should we act when flying FPV at a location where our right to do so is unclear?
1. Discreetly, with permission or deferential to authority figures who stop you, even when rules seem to permit flying. 86 71.67%
2. Fly anywhere, show off to spectators, when challenged fight back about how the law does not expressly prohibit FPV. 34 28.33%
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 12:30 PM
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Trappy/BlackSheep flight in Grand Canyon results in new R/C and FPV ban

I am posting this because I think it's a really important lesson for us. Many of you know Trappy and BlackSheep as awesome FPV pilots who make great videos. I love their stuff and really respect their technical advice. But recently they were caught at the Grand Canyon flying from a prominent tourist overlook, were fined by park rangers, and had their SD card confiscated. They made a HUGE deal about it, going to the District Attorney to get their money and SD card back, arguing (correctly) that the law prohibiting non-permit aircraft operations in the Grand Canyon did not apply to toy R/C airplanes, which are harmless. The park rangers weren't too nice and weren't terribly pleased about the pushback, of course.

The net result of this, it now seems, is the rather predictable result: a new, unambiguous ban of all R/C activity (FPV or otherwise) anywhere in the Grand Canyon National Park, an area of 1900 SQUARE MILES. Here is a link to the new use and access rule issued on April 17 (look at page 3):

http://www.nps.gov/grca/parkmgmt/upl...compendium.pdf

It cites the protection of wildlife (birds) as the justification. I'm no expert on that, and it's true that there are thousands of full-size heli flights into the canyon every year, but perhaps the high-pitch whine of the Zephyr prop, the bird-like size of the R/C craft, and its speed and proximity to the canyon walls and vegetation could cause birds to become disturbed and flee their nests or abandon their young. I think we know the government doesn't need much pretext to outlaw a "hobby" so it really doesn't matter whether you agree with the reason. It is conceivable that other national parks will adopt this ban, since I assume they all review each other's policies. That could mean that many beautiful parks that would be great for R/C and/or FPV are going to be off-limits officially.

I'm not trying to give any of us a hard time about what we love to do. What matters is how we handle this amazing hobby we have with respect to the public, and especially in places of sensitivity. It has been suggested here, and elsewhere, that we remain discreet and responsible with our FPV flying. I have to agree. If you are going to fly in a canyon governed by national park rangers or local government, think about asking for permission first. If you don't or can't, please use some discretion if you decide to fly anyway. Don't fly off a busy tourist overlook and land on the sidewalk; find a quieter place. If you are caught, be polite, apologize and pay the fines as a cost of the adventure. The last thing we need is to try to "fight the man" on what the rules are or should be after the fact. Better to be laughed off as silly people with toy planes than to challenge the authority figures about whether what you are doing is legally permitted. (I'm not saying we shouldn't resist regulation; but lobbying about regulations should happen collectively and responsibly.) And if you end up with an amazing flight in a questionable location, think twice about posting the video to YouTube and showing off. If we have to deal with regulation, better to do it in an organized, community way than to try to defend dramatic individual flights as being safe or not after the fact and once a law enforcement officer has staked a position against you. That approach makes us start behind the 8-ball in defending the safety and value of what we are doing. No police officer or bureaucrat likes to be proven wrong after the fact about the rules he is supposed to know and enforce. If rules need to change, it's got to be before we fly, not "look what I can do with my freedoms and you can't stop me, ha ha!".

This incident follows Team BlackSheep's infamous New York City flight which could have (and still may!) trigger nationwide regulation of FPV or RC flying in urban settings or elsewhere. (Like with the Grand Canyon flight, Trappy keeps saying that these flights are legal and therefore cannot be stopped. That argument is exactly what will encourage a lawmaker to ban it!) Look, it's cool and even inspiring that they did it, it's debatable whether there was any danger to anyone, but by publicizing it widely on YouTube and arguing so loudly about what's permitted in an urban area that also sees heavy helicopter, GA and commercial traffic, they are just begging for someone to dream up a regulation to shut us down.

As many of you know, BlackSheep is based in Europe and was on a "tour" of western American during the Grand Canyon incident. In my mind, that makes it even worse because they can always go home to enjoy their hobby, not subject to whatever regulations their high-profile stunt flying in our country may trigger, and that we will have to live with. Too bad that if you hike deep into the GC and bring along your park flyer and/or an FPV plane, you won't be able to fly now without violating the new rule. Ambiguity can be good until you challenge it and force clarification, as happened here.

Judge for yourself. Below is the BlackSheep's FPV video of the canyon (the part that was not seized). Note, starting half-way through, the launch, fly-overs, and landing at the main tourist platform right near the Visitor Center, and the chasing of birds, plus the debate about the rules at the end. All I'm really saying, in the end, is that this was a terrible way to handle the situation and the consequences to the hobby of acting this way are real.

I welcome your thoughts. Let's keep it civil, please. We are all in this to have fun and enjoy the beauty of FPV flight.

Grand Canyon [TBS@USA 12/13] (5 min 57 sec)
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 12:36 PM
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As far as I know, RC aircraft are already prohibited in most National Parks, without special permission
(there are and have been exceptions), and have been prohibited in the Grand Canyon
before now. They just clarified the rule as it applies to FPV. I don't think this is earth shattering
news and doesn't take away a right that existed before. It's also not the first/only place that RC
aircraft have been prohibited due to perceived negative interaction with wildlife.

I do think they'd have been better off flying from the North Rim instead a stones throw
from the visitor's center.

ian
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 12:47 PM
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The fine was not for breaking a rule about RC aircraft, it related to airplanes which are defined as being able to carry a person. (Trappy made a big deal about the lack of any rule governing R/C planes and it seemed like he had researched that point thoroughly.) Are you saying R/C was already banned in the parks and could be halted by the park rangers but there would be no fine? I'm not sure that's true, but even so, my point remains: This type of behavior and the argumentative response to being caught brought unwanted regulatory attention. Acting this way in other locations could lead to broad regulations elsewhere, and that would hurt all of us.
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 12:48 PM
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I am not too sure about the law but I don't see the problems with flying around people. By that I mean launching in a public area and then flying in a remote area.
People should have the necessary failsafes, i.e motor cut off when signal is lost. At least then if it did hit someone it would not do much damage.

The problem is that many clubs just don't allow FPV so we have to fly on public land, it's frankly irresponsible that they don't allow it. Generally this is just part of a wider problem where governments are taking away our freedoms, it's terrible how little say we have.
Imo fpvers should carrying on lobbying just like we are doing in the UK, due to our lobbying we are now in a pretty secure situation.
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 01:41 PM
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Reading this really made me love my country...
I fly fpv over houses and people and all I get are compliments. Sometimes the police even stops to watch.
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 01:43 PM
On a holiday?
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@Les 78
So let's see if I got this straight. They were flying and got fined and also got some of their equipment confiscated. Both the fine and the confiscation was incorrect and they knew that so they went to the proper authorities to get it annulled and get their equipment back. A fine that they should never have gotten and some equipment that never should have been confiscated.

Do you think that they should have accepted a fine and accepted to loose their equipment based on incorrect behavior by the rangers? I really don't think it's a HUGE deal to right something wrong, no matter what they have done.
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 02:11 PM
Live FPV or Die
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Montreal,Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeeMax View Post
Reading this really made me love my country...
I fly fpv over houses and people and all I get are compliments. Sometimes the police even stops to watch.
sure no one make complaint when I fly over peoples or houses with my styro plane, the rule exist since long before light r/c plane was available. check with your local r/c club, and I'm pretty sure they will tell you the same rule as we have here, no insurance will cover you if you hurt somebody, but what dammage can we do with styro plane. you must judge yourself, the rule do not allow light plane to fly above peoples, no weight limit exist in that rule
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 02:20 PM
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they are amazing pilots, but they do draw the wrong kind of attention.

and Daemon is right. RC is already prohibited in national parks. I ll snap a pic next time I am in Yosemite.

a company that is doing some engineering work in the park asked me to snap some pictures. I will be up there in a month or so to fly with the permission of the rangers.

so it is a little misleading to say that trappy caused a ban when it was already against the rules...... but the point is right,

we need to be respectful when flying. Stay away from people and be polite not asses (meant in the context of a stubborn donky!)
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 02:22 PM
FPVing for fun...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeeMax View Post
Reading this really made me love my country...
I fly fpv over houses and people and all I get are compliments. Sometimes the police even stops to watch.
same here... we don't have "places of sensitivity" and beautiful public places are meant to be flown and shown...

anytime I talk to park rangers or law enforcement they love to see my planes and videos...

some peolple would probably crucify this pilot for his landing...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...eRWT-1g#t=303s
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 02:29 PM
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I think needs a little lesson in using discresion when he flies. Just because no rule exists doesn't mean you should fly from a busy overlook. Also chasing wildlife like large birds of prey is a major no no and I bet that's why they fined him. He didn't HAVE to fly from the over look, but he found it necessary. It's a pity because ive seen tons of other video from the grand canyon and the park rangers look the other way...

Btw I've been stopped by police here and they just ask me what I'm up to, how high can it fly and where can they get it.. It's all your attitude and trappy needs some work there. I love his fly just not his attitude
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 02:31 PM
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United States, CA, Fresno
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashdec87 View Post
I think needs a little lesson in using discresion when he flies. Just because no rule exists doesn't mean you should fly from a busy overlook. Also chasing wildlife like large birds of prey is a major no no and I bet that's why they fined him. He didn't HAVE to fly from the over look, but he found it necessary. It's a pity because ive seen tons of other video from the grand canyon and the park rangers look the other way...



Btw I've been stopped by police here and they just ask me what I'm up to, how high can it fly and where can they get it.. It's all your attitude and trappy needs some work there. I love his fly just not his attitude


That is the thing it is not against the LAW, but a national park rule. it is posted in many places that I have been. Ill snap a picture next time.

I dont know trappy so I cannot comment on his attitude.



i have traveled a lot.... and been to some of the best places in the world (egyption pyramids, Taj Mahal in Argra, India..... Great Wall in China....) and none of them are taken care of. They are dirty, trash all over the place.... people dont respect the beauty. It pissed me off. Coming from the US where our national parks are clean, well kept and only about 20% of the parks have easy access I was expecting similar.

Some might complain about "rights" and authority... but come on people dont go to the Grand Canyon look out places to see a foam airplane flying aroud.

If i were there and had a child I would have ask them to leave...... You can fly in national forest or BLM land all you want. I flew in National Forest land 2 weeks ago without any issues.

out of all the things to complain about the National Parks are not one of them in the US!
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 02:39 PM
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Three pounds of foam hitting someone in the face probably won't cause much harm (if the motor is off). But a styrofoam plane that hits a car, causes the driver to swerve and results in a traffic accident is certainly dangerous. Remember, though, that the reason doesn't have to make sense in order for the government to shut down something they see of little value but as a nuisance.

Yes, I think the better course of action was to pay the fine and just let the matter go rather than challenging the authorities and elevating it to the DA. That's if you care what happens to the rules after you leave the location. Since they are from Europe and probably never plan to try this again in the USA, I don't think they cared so much about the predictable response to their arguments: a new, unambiguous rule issued by the National Parks Department.

If R/C was already banned in National Parks then I am confused about how Trappy has been defending the GC flights in the first place. The whole premise behind that (and the NYC flight) is that there is no rule against it. There is a rule against R/C in Monument Valley specifically, and there Team Blacksheep got special permission and a tour guide. That was the right way to do it. The GC incident is an example of the wrong way, as well as the consequences.
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 02:56 PM
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well i can only speak from where I have been

we all need to be positive influinces in the hobby so we dont get shut out of places we want to fly.

I love RC and FPV, but when I am at a national park backpacking or hiking the last thing I want to hear is the sound of an electric or nitro RC airplane.....

looks like to me that Trappy and friends were right about their fine and their gear being taken.... not about them actually flying.

some links on the issue from years past
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...htPuOwzpHNJr9Q

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1127488


http://arch.ced.berkeley.edu/kap/dis...cussionID=2533
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 03:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashdec87 View Post
I think needs a little lesson in using discretion when he flies.
yep

Trappy seems like a great guy, marvelous technician and pilot, just hasn't clued into this idea of discretion yet.
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Old Apr 27, 2012, 03:28 PM
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I think the lesson here is to build up your skills/equipment to fly 15+ miles and launch/land from outside the property line... ;p
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