It is August 11, 2017. Two weeks before my first year of college. Time has passed, and everything will change now.
The days of being a slave to school are over. I do not want to live that life anymore. I have probably decreased my longevity by 10 years from the pressure of the past four. I want to actually develop a social life – meet people, learn how to do things – not just sit in my dorm, on my computer coding at every opportune moment I have. (Yes, I do want to bring my desktop, but for different reasons: I need a computer beefy enough to compile big libraries, and a laptop won’t cut it. I could try building a mini PC, but I doubt it will last me very long.)
I was awoken by my cat at 7 am, and then at 8 am. I looked outside: 7 am, and the sun had not even risen yet. Summer is over. The days of long sunlight, the days of adventuring in Japan, the days of fireworks at my uncle’s house, the days of total freedom and not knowing what to do with it, are all over once again.
This time, however, it is different. I will not be returning to high school anymore; I am finally moving up and forward, the progress I have been waiting months to achieve. It seems childish now to have a teacher paid to supervise you doing classwork, but I realize that many people remain trapped in their delusions of American sloth and thus fail to attempt to do their best. Then, in community college, there is no one around to tell them of the brutal mistake they have committed.
I have also found a friend who is interested in making an RC plane for FPV. Like me, he is avidly ambitious. However, due to the increase in popularity of “drones,” there are more prominent resources now on how to do FPV legally.
What has also arisen is the need (or lack thereof) for an AMA membership – I have read that the AMA these days are nothing more than lobbyists who use the $85-a-year membership required to be in any AMA-sanctioned flying club for just that, lobbying and advocacy of model aircraft in Congress. I don’t trust their insurance, because insurance companies these days are money-grabbers who will take every pain to keep their money, knowing that you put in so much more money for insurance per month than you could possibly lose from damages in a year. The AMA also fails to explain that, per 14 CFR 101.41(b) (“the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization”) does not mean you must be a member of the AMA to follow their rules.
Moreover, you need a Part 107 license for sUAS to fly beyond visual line-of-sight (required for FPV), and a technician’s ham radio license to operate the high-power transmitters needed for the video link, even if you are using ISM bands (2.4 GHz, 5.8 GHz, etc.). Thankfully, the technician’s license is actually the easiest to obtain and doesn’t require learning Morse code. In essence, it allows one to operate radio equipment that is not certified by the FCC, and in special bands provided that one’s callsign is given and you notify the FCC what band you are going to operate in, for what reason, and for what period of time the use will take place.
After about 30 minutes more of reading, however, it seems that if you follow Section 336, which includes the clause stated above, instead of being bound under FAA law, you are bound under any community’s guidelines you choose (but you can’t mix and match – you have to choose one), without necessarily needing to subscribe to their membership. However, this means that their guidelines suddenly can become interpreted as law under the scrutiny of a judge. However, if you do Section 336, it seems you can bypass strict sUAS rules in favor of “community guidelines” that might be more lenient than what the FAA states. Either way, it is no doubt why commercial enterprises have gotten impetuous with the FAA: even for commercial quadcopter flights for freight, the FAA maintains its decades-old stance of not wanting to put any trust at all on electronics, especially as a primary means of controlling an aircraft. Military? Go right ahead, control your plane from half the globe away, guns hot. Civilians? You must fly within no more than 400 feet above the ground, and the aircraft must be spottable with nothing but your eyeballs.
But what is the point of comprehending the convoluted manner in which the FAA defines and interprets its own rules? If an accident happens, you get fined, go to court with the FAA, and your case just sits in a corner for ten years. So just go to some open field and fly – oh wait, you can’t do that because you don’t have an open field! – so you have to go to a club with a little tiny fly box, again sanctioned and forced membership by the AMA.
Maybe the AMA is the right way to go about this. But how do I know the club members aren’t some old-timeys who just take their big gas plane and fly it around for a while because they have nothing else to do, and then tell me that the best way to fly a plane is to not fly it at all and watch someone else fly it instead? That would be a tremendous waste of money on my part. On top of that, I need money for a bicycle, so that I’m fairly mobile when I’m in college.
I don’t know. There’s going to be a lot of pressure on me from all sides when I go to college.