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Aug 20, 2008, 11:31 AM
FPV Desert Beta Test Center
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FAA Regulation of Recreational Model Aircraft



First Person View (FPV) piloting is defined as remotely controlling a model aircraft by the pilot in command (PIC) by the use of an onboard video camera and wireless video transmitter which sends a live video image of the aircraft’s attitude in flight to a “ground station” which consists of a wireless video receiver and display devices such as a video monitor and/or video “goggles”.

Non-commercial hobbyists and amateur model aircraft users operating for sport and recreation. Commercial operations (e.g.: pay-for-hire, aerial photography, etc) are not recreational activities, and as such are not covered under these guidelines.

The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) is a self-supporting, non-profit organization whose purpose is to promote development of model aviation as a recognized sport and worthwhile recreation activity, and is the official national body for model aviation in the United States.

1. Maximum flight altitude of 400ft AGL as per FAA guideline AC 91-57.
2. Flights are not permitted over densely populated areas of cities, towns or over any open-air assembly of persons.
3. Flights within 3 statute miles of an airport require prior approval of the airport manager.
4. Maximum operating range shall be limited to AMA safety rules and FAA guidelines.
5. Flights shall be conducted in such a way as to prevent harm to full-scale aircraft, people, animals or property.
6. Flights should be only conducted under VFR weather conditions.
a. Day = 1 statute mile of visibility
b. Night = 3 statute miles of visibility
7. Night flights require on-board aircraft lights that show the aircraft’s attitude visible from 1000 ft.
8. Fully autonomous aerial vehicles that lack the ability to be totally controlled by the pilot in command are not considered to be FPV aircraft and as such are not covered by these guidelines.
9. Aircraft will be flown by regular visual line-of-sight method during initial testing and/or testing of any flight system changes that could affect performance and/or handling.
10. Aircraft will contain contact information for the pilot, including but not limited to, the pilots full name, address, and phone number.


1. Aircraft maximum weight and speed limited to AMA safety rules and FAA guidelines.
2. The use of spotters is recommended during initial flight training or at congested flying fields.
3. GPS based programmable redundant failsafe systems are encouraged and if used for return to home purpose should be programmed to bring the aircraft back to a safe location away from people and property. If a return-to-home feature is not used, it is advisable to
4. Have on-board capability (fail safe) of landing the aircraft if pilot control is interrupted.
5. Any record attempts that exceed these guidelines require the prior approval of all official agencies involved that would include but are not limited to FAA and FAI.


FPV pilots shall adhere to frequency control and licensing set forth by the FCC. This applies to both the RC control systems used, as well as the wireless video transmissions. FPV pilots will also take care to minimize frequency conflicts with other model aircraft pilots.


Preface: Keep in mind some AMA fields are located within congested or populated areas. Furthermore these sites may have contractual agreements with land owners restricting activity within a limited flight zone. These areas do not have the space requirements for FPV flying and should not be used. The AMA model aircraft Safety Code will apply at all times!

1. An FPV-equipped model must be flown by two AMA members utilizing a buddy-box system. The pilot in command must be on the primary transmitter, maintain visual contact, and be prepared to assume control in the event of a problem
2. The operational range of the model is limited to the pilot in command’s visual line of sight as defined in the Official AMA Safety Code (see Radio Control, item 10).
3. The flight path of model operations shall be limited to the designated flying site and approved overfly area.
4. The model weight and speed shall be limited to a maximum of 10 pounds and 60 miles per hour.

Flying at a AMA field is a privilege and not a right! Please do not get into arguments regarding FPV at AMA fields. Arguing if you can fly FPV will only give FPV'ers a bad name!

Guidelines prepared by U.S. FPV Pilots
August 2008
Last edited by Gary Evans; Mar 02, 2015 at 12:38 PM.
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Aug 20, 2008, 12:24 PM
JettPilot's Avatar

The guidelines are a huge improvement, and I support the rules and this document is trying to accomplish.

There are a couple things in the rules that worry me though. They are just some small detials that still seem link FPV to UAV's instead of just being RC model planes. The visibility requirement makes our model airplane sound more like UAV's and make them sound " Non RC Model ". I think references to airspace also are dangerous, because anyone reading that gets them into the " Airplane " or " UAV " mindset. Its inevitable, when you start taking about controlled and uncontrolled airspace the mindset changes from RC Models to Aviation, not a good thing for us. I would make the rule something like " Limited to areas that are currently acceptable for model airplane flight "

I dont like the idea of a recommendations section. Recommendations written in rules always become law, or are interepered as law. Nothing should be written in the " Rules " that you do not intend to be a rules, because that is what will happen in the end.

This is a vast improvemnt over the last draft, the intent of this document is something I fully support. We are accomplishing a lot here, and it is worth it taking the time to do this correctly, and get a good document rather than rushing trough the first thing that comes up. Should we revise this a bit more, I think so, not the rules, but maybe just some of the wording, but its not my choice. What I do know is that we should most definately not rush this, we need to take the time to read and think over everyones comments and ideas to assure that we have the best set of rules written using the best language to take to the AMA.

Last edited by JettPilot; Aug 20, 2008 at 12:44 PM.
Aug 20, 2008, 12:25 PM
FPV Desert Beta Test Center
Thread OP
Thank you!
Aug 20, 2008, 05:39 PM
goliathman's Avatar
Very good revision. What Im interested in is the waiver and what it will entail.
we should work out the details befor going to the AMA.
Aug 20, 2008, 06:06 PM
goliathman's Avatar
From Horace Cain who's running for AMA Exc VP:

AMA programs need constant revision, modifications or even deletion, while new programs are developed to meet the needs of a changing aeromodeler’s society. Providing the necessary outreach to the newer generations involved in the new technologies, yet still providing for the established needs of the more conservative approaches, will allow AMA to attract and maintain the membership needed to accomplish AMA goals.
Last edited by goliathman; Aug 20, 2008 at 07:25 PM.
Aug 20, 2008, 06:34 PM
Registered User
typicalaimster's Avatar
I'm already in contact with the AMA and will be working with them throughout the lifespan of the document. Funny how Horace Cain ignored me when I emailed him.

Last edited by typicalaimster; Aug 26, 2008 at 06:28 AM. Reason: Spying
Aug 20, 2008, 07:23 PM
goliathman's Avatar
another candidate:

For the past three years, I have developed a close and highly respected working relationship with our AMA President, Dave Mathewson. We communicate on almost a daily basis to address AMA issues. If elected as your Executive Vice President, I would like to focus on the following over the next three years:
• Stimulate the growth of AMA by implementing various creative marketing programs
• Grow the number of Leader Clubs
• Grow and aid in securing flying sites for our clubs through creative financing of club-owned sites
• Support the introduction and education of model aviation to our youth
• Provide leadership for the EC on financial matters
• Push for EC term limits so that new, fresh and creative ideas can be implemented which results in ensuring the longevity of a healthy AMA

I would like to continue this modeling journey and with your support, I believe we can accomplish even more in the next three years. Thank you!

Mark T. Smith
Aug 20, 2008, 07:31 PM
goliathman's Avatar
This may be a problem of exposure. Perhaps if we could get the local FPV people to start putting on "demonstrations" of FPV at Flyins, it could be a way of moving FPV forward in the eyes of the general AMA membership?
Aug 20, 2008, 08:22 PM
Registered User
typicalaimster's Avatar
There has been talk in the past about putting on shows at AMA fun fly events. The underlying problem there is once again Rule #10 and the way many AMA clubs are 'legally bound by contract' to stick to it. Therefore it makes it very hard to give positive exposure at such events. The same 'legal binding' is why I suggested we leave FPV flying up to the field safety officer the plane will be flown at.

Next is how vast the United States is and how spread out know FPV'ers are. Meaning your FPV neighbor may be a state or several miles away from you. Luckly here in the DC Metroplex we have a few FPV'ers. Earlier this Summer three of us were able to attend a fly in event at the Capitol Area Soaring Association. This event lead to the distribution of IF Pilot View equipment at one of the local hobby stores. We had a very positive experience at the hosting field and hope to of left a very positive impression of those attending. For the record we were using a spotter during the event due to the large amount of people attending. We wanted to present the safest FPV flying possible.

We, and by we I mean the community, have talked about hosting events in the different districts throughout the United States. Once again it kinda fizzles out due to lack of a hosting site. Personally I'd put a motion out to our board to host an event at our field here in Northern Va. The drawback right now is we're currently leasing a new field and don't want to go overboard with our activities. If someone could host an event in say PA, or DE, I'm sure we could draw a large crowd from the surrounding states. On the other coast I'll probably ask the coordinators of the Arizona Electric Fest if a few FPV'ers, including myself, could put on a demonstration. That event has been held every January for the past couple years. It seems with its remote location a few people would jump on the idea of flying over the Arizona desert.

Right now I've demonstrated FPV in about 3 different states. I've only had one bad experience displaying FPV. This was due to the clubs contractual agreement with the county. The rest have been very positive and I've been invited back to fly at those clubs at any time.
Aug 20, 2008, 09:31 PM
goliathman's Avatar
I usually CD the events at our clubs two fields, one county, one private, and i would welcome an FPV demo. As I understand the rules regarding Demos allow a wider variety of technology not covered elsewhere.
Aug 21, 2008, 12:16 AM
Just trying to get a nut.
scrtsqrl's Avatar
Originally Posted by goliathman
This may be a problem of exposure. Perhaps if we could get the local FPV people to start putting on "demonstrations" of FPV at Flyins, it could be a way of moving FPV forward in the eyes of the general AMA membership?
Yes, it is all about all means...

Anyone want to do a podcast? The boys over at ATTF and RCFlightcast are interested.
Aug 21, 2008, 08:23 AM
FPV Desert Beta Test Center
Thread OP
Originally Posted by goliathman
Very good revision. What Im interested in is the waiver and what it will entail.
we should work out the details befor going to the AMA.
This is the AMA fixed wing turbine waiver.

It would be AMA's call if waivers would be required. Hopefully not.
Aug 21, 2008, 08:29 AM
No guts no glory
pratorian's Avatar
waiver should only be required if you plan on flying your turbine jet FPV
Aug 21, 2008, 12:28 PM
Registered User
typicalaimster's Avatar
Waivers are a bunch of paperwork, we dont' want to go down that road
Aug 21, 2008, 01:55 PM
Cameras are EVERYWHERE...
tvdude310's Avatar
Originally Posted by typicalaimster
Waivers are a bunch of paperwork, we dont' want to go down that road
Agreed. But if something happens that precludes us from normal FPV flight within current guidelines, we may have to go this route.
I guess what I'm saying is that we should be ready if this ever rears its ugly head.

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