Dear Mr President,
I’m writing you in regards to the proliferation of consumer available remote controlled aircraft, commonly referred to as ‘drone’s’ (quite incorrectly in my humble opinion as they are manned by operators who are legally required to operate them in line of sight at all times). In recent years the price for these aircraft has drastically dropped causing them to garner more widespread public attention. Politico.com recently ran an article stating that your office would be giving an executive order regarding this hobby in the near future.
I am writing to you as one of the new hobbyists in this space with my thoughts on what I believe to be the correct construct that could be applied to regulate this hobby as it has clear implications for both public privacy and safety which I feel should be addressed. To me the issue is the simplicity of operation of the aircraft that are now publicly available at a price point that is less restrictive. The ability to fly out of the box with very little training is leading to an ongoing list of instances where a user is behaving in a way that causes both safety and privacy concerns. As with most things in life this is leading a few irresponsible users to drive a negative image for something that can be used in a very positive way. To list but a few instances:
I would urge you to apply regulation that defines three major types of user in this space.
Defined as someone who purchases an aircraft for the first time and wants to enjoy it in a responsible and controlled manner
This user should be allow to operate their aircraft right out of the box in a controlled and safe environment. My suggestion is that in public parks, the privacy of your own back yard (with some form of height limitation or prior approval from your neighbor to avoid privacy concerns) anyone should be able to enjoy the use of a RC aircraft. I would urge your administration to work with the FAA to create a safe to fly/not safe to fly map of the US that outlines for users where they can fly without restriction and without the need for a license.
Defined as someone who is looking for an output from this hobby, photography and videography are the first outputs that come to mind.
This type of user is more likely to be driven to capture the amazing images of our great country from the air. Many of those area’s will come under protection; and rightfully so, and thus I would urge your administration to develop a training course with test and license fee to define this user. The benefit to being a license holder in my mind would be that I am now a trained user of my aircraft and should be treated as such, allowed to operate in more populous area’s of the country or in more unique area’s that also require safety and contentious piloting. The top two types of location would be urban, city locations and our natural parks. I would put a licensing fee that allows me to operate my aircraft in this manner for a certain period of time, requiring hobbyists to be retested every 3-5 years. Barrier of entry for this should be mostly focused on time taken to be trained, I would urge you to work with the FAA to develop a training course that requires advanced maneuvers and a relatively inexpensive licensing fee itself ($100-$200).
3 Commercial Use
Defined as someone looking to create an output from this hobby for commercial gain.
This last user would be defined in a very similar manner to the second user with one slight difference, I would apply a greater license fee and have the lifetime of that license last a shorter duration. My reasoning for this third user is at the roots of what it is to be an American citizen. Those who work hard, take chances and apply themselves have the chance (not the right) to be successful in what they do. In essence you will be creating an entirely new revenue model for your citizens with this third user definition.
Mr President we have some amazing sights that should be captured and shared for everyone to see, this hobby can be turned into a new art form and a new business venture. I urge you to take the time to define this hobby with the complexity of regulation it deserves to appropriately determine and govern user need and behavior.
Please don’t let the few instances of misbehavior covered in our news sway your decision on this hobby. I strongly urge you to spend a few minutes googling the various brands and models of aircraft to understand their current capability set. Finally I also urge you to watch the output of the users, the video of the Penn state building, the islands in Thailand, the city scape of Manhattan are truly breath taking.
I humbly offer you an in person demonstration to show you what type of video output I could create of our nations beautiful capital and your home the White House. Lets put this new technology to good use and find a way to encourage the positive rather than focus on the very few negative instances and push legislation that would curtail this amazing technology.
Yours very humbly,
Location: New York