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AMA District X - Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
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Academy of Model Aeronautics




Safety Coordinator - July 2021    

Club members

With recent changes in the federal rules concerning UAVs (RC planes, etc), I urge you to do 3 things (if you have not already done so).  Directly below is a summary.  Further below are more details and perhaps the answers to some of your questions.

1) Register your UAV(s) with the FAA.  The cost is $5 for 3 years.  You will be given a registration certificate and assigned a registration number.  Label any UAV that weighs more than 250 grams (.55 lb) with the registration number before you fly it.  Additionally, carry a printed version of the certificate, or have an electronic copy of it on your phone, when you are flying.  

2) Complete the FAA TRUST test.  TRUST is a basic RC flying knowledge test.  You can complete it in about 20 minutes.  Upon completion, you will be given a certificate.  Carry a printed version of the certificate, or have an electronic copy of it on your phone, when you are flying. 

3) Become familiar with the FAA LAANC system.  The LAANC system is used to request permission to fly your UAV in controlled FAA airspace. (Generally speaking, for RC pilots, controlled airspace is a location within 5 NM of an airport.)  This is NOT a concern at the KRCF flying field.  However if you fly gliders at the cinder cones North of the KOA airport, you need to use this system to get permission to fly.

That's the summary.  You need to do a least these 3 things to fly RC legally.  Below are more details. 

Note:  The information on this page ONLY concerns "recreational" flying.  If you are flying commercially or professionally, you should have a Part 107 license, and you should already know the applicable rules.

 

Recreational Flying:

As a recreational flier, upon request from law enforcement or the FAA, you need to provide the following three things:
1- Proof of UAV/Drone Registration
2- A certificate of completion of the FAA TRUST test
3- Be able to state that you follow AMA safety guidelines when flying

Note:  I will use the words "UAV" and "Drone" interchangeably because the FAA does.  I know that most of us do not consider our RC planes "drones".

 

Drone registration:

You can get more information about registering your drone here.

You can register your drone here

The FAA is somewhat vague on labeling your drone.  They make some suggestions as to how to label it, but don't specify the size of the lettering (for example).  The label must be visible on the outside of the craft.

We are unlikely to get asked for proof of registration by the authorities at the KRCF flying field.  However it is your individual responsibility to register your UAVs, label them, and have proof of registration with you when you are flying at the KRCF field. 

 

TRUST Test:

TRUST is a basic RC flying knowledge test (The Recreational UAV Safety Test).  You will be told what you need to know before you are tested on it.  Just read and understand the information provided.  You can get more information about the FAA TRUST test here:

You can complete the TRUST test at the AMA's web site here

Again, we are unlikely to get asked for proof of completing the TRUST test by the authorities at the KRCF flying field.  However it is your individual responsibility to complete the test and have proof of that when you are flying at the KRCF field. 

 

FAA LAANC:

LAANC stands for Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability.  It's a way to get immediate approval to fly your UAV in controlled airspace.  For our purposes, because UAVs are only allowed to fly at 400 feet or less above ground level, controlled airspace is usually only in a 5NM radius around airports.  However, controlled/ restricted airspace can also include other areas like sports stadiums, government facilities, national parks, etc.  

The KRCF flying field is NOT in controlled airspace.  However controlled airspace DOES begin near the opening of the harbor.  Dog Beach, for example, is restricted airspace (as part of a national historic park), and the 5NM radius of KOA controlled airspace begins immediately after that.

If you want to see where those locations are and see if there are flight advisories that impact you, you can download the B4UFly app.  It can give you a quick "Cleared for Takeoff" result.  

Get the B4UFly app:   Android    IOS

However, B4UFly can not give approval to fly in controlled airspace.  To do that you need to make a LAANC request.  Fortunately there is a free service for LAANC using an app on your phone called Aloft. (Apparently it was formerly called Kitty Hawk.  It is also the engine behind the B4UFly app, so you can link to Aloft directly from the B4UFly app.) 

Get the Aloft app:  Android    IOS

My best advice is to download the Aloft app and try making a submittal to learn how it works. I did so using the Android app and got approval instantly to fly at the cinder cone hills North of the Kona airport.  It's worth watching a short video before you try it. 

Q:  What if two people are going to fly gliders at the cinder cones at the same time.  Do we each need LAANC approval?
A:  Yes.  (I emailed with the FAA about this.)  All flyers need individual LAANC approvals.  Two people can't fly on one approval.

Q: How many LAANC approvals will be given for a location for the same time period?
A:  That is unknown.  The FAA indicated to me that this would not be a problem (i.e getting denied because someone else was already approved), but I've read where it has occurred.

 

 

2021 Kona RC Flyers Inc AMA #3862
Academy of Model Aeronautics