This site seeks to inform the public of the dangers and abuses related to the use of drones, model aircraft and RPAS for recreation. It contains research gathered from multiple sources and asks important questions as well as exploring possible solutions to a challenging public safety issue.
Way Too Close to Residents
Why are RC flying clubs established close to residents? What is a close distance? Who controls this? Are they aware of the dangers? This is a dangerous activity to conduct close to people; there have been injuries and fatalities but not just to adults, children who had nothing to do with the activity. Where are the government regulations preventing this dangerous activity from establishing close to where people live? Why does MAAC approve and renew sanctioning of locations in close proximity to people especially when the activity is known to be dangerous?
What if you bought a beautiful home that happens to have some farm land or a park, or a field in close proximity and an RC flying club rents there? What if loud awful noise is heard hour after hour, the smell of exhaust permeates the air inside your home from their aircraft with frequent flying over your property? All of this is in the name of fun for members of flying clubs who may show no concern for your safety or for the other residents close by. When these clubs establish, people come from other cities just to fly their aircraft in a circle at your expense. Why is this allowed to happen? When an RC Flying Club makes your life hell, what can you do?
When the activity is dangerous it does not matter if the club is established before or after a neighbouring house is built. The irony is that one could move then have a club establish beside them. If one wants to live in a rural setting there is little to stop these RC flying clubs from establishing there. Since when has an activity or a hobby for fun become acceptable when it endangers the neighbouring residents?
In the case of the Phelan RC Flying Club, they established a site placing the runway less than 150 meters from an existing century old home; a home so old it predates the Wright brothers! Is one to think that the club was established with the consent of the neighbouring senior couple? Is one to think that a senior couple wanted to be exposed to this? Logically proper urban planning would prevent this through zoning. However, in the City of Ottawa RC aircraft clubs continue to establish new locations beside existing residents. Logically with the dangers that the residents are exposed to, one would think that the city would step in and find a more suitable location but not the City of Ottawa. The City of Ottawa refuses to enforce the noise by-law and has been informed of the dangers to the residents but has chosen to protect RC flying club members, many of whom do not even live in the City of Ottawa. In the case of the Phelan RC Flying Club, this inaction comes at the expense of a family with a baby. Why is city council not protecting its citizens against this dangerous recreational activity and not prioritizing the safety of local citizens over the recreational pursuits of outsider hobbyists?
Why do the two pictures used to show the Phelan RC Flying Club site on their website, show the neighbouring property? Is it that the club sees the neighbouring property as part of the area that they can exploit? Is it just so close that they could not take a picture without including the neighbouring house? Why do the pictures show the neighbouring house but only part of the clubs flying zone? Doesn’t it show a perspective that lets the people know, this club site has been placed way to close to residents?
RC flying club sites are sanctioned by MAAC and are submitted for renewal each year. Logically this renewal contains distance information. The Phelan RC Flying Club flies jets, giant scale and turbine helicopters at this location. There are guidelines in the AMA documentation on the MAAC website that show that these dangerous aircraft need a safe distance, so why does MAAC continue to sanction sites close to residents?
AMA document on Getting and Keeping Flying SitesChapter 1 : Deciding the Basics, p.7
Section III - Recommended RC Flying Site Specifications
This group is flying dangerous high speed machines and they boast about it on Facebook inviting people from all around to a location where none of them live to subject the neighbours to noise and danger.
The Phelan RC Flying club does not have enough room to operate these machines according to the documentation available on the MAAC website. According to the AMA (MAAC describes as “The AMA is the MAAC equivalent in the United States, although almost 17 times larger” in their 2019 Annual Operating Plan p.4 https://secure.maac.ca/get_document.php?document_id=463) their flying site should be much bigger. As aircraft fly in a circle, AMA documentation states that, “The high speeds of Pattern aircraft can easily carry them to a distance of 1,500 feet from the runway center as they make their turns,” the attached image titled “AMA Distance from Center of Runway” shows the distance reflected on the map. Looking at the map, it becomes clear why aircraft from the Phelan RC Flying Club crosses the road and flying over neighbouring property. The club’s runway is located only 64 meters (210 feet) from Phelan road which is just not enough distance. These AMA guidelines should be used as minimum distances. If the AMA distance information does not apply, then why would MAAC provide this documentation on their website?
The Phelan RC Flying Club runway is less than 150 meters from the neighbouring house (143 meters) and 70 meters from the neighbouring property line. Instead of flying within the clubs own flying zone, the members often fly over the neighbouring property. Flying over the neighbour’s property to the south means that they would fly over their own no-flying zone, cross Phelan road before flying over neighbouring property to the south. This is three areas that they fly over where they do not have permission. Flying over the no fly zone and Phelan road is in violation of their own the club rules and MAAC rules (According to the exemption from Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulation, it is in the conditions they need to follow).
Phelan RC Flying club rulesPart 1: General Club Arrangements
In addition to the Club rules, members and their guests shall adhere to all relevant MAAC codes and guidelines, including specifically the MAAC Safety Code and the MAAC Safety Guidelines.
1) Aircraft must not be flown near any housing, building, animal or vehicle.
2) Except during takeoff and landing, flying is restricted to the area north of the paved runway. Specifically, flying over the Pits, Spectator Area, Parking Area or Phelan Road is prohibited
MAAC Safety Document (MSD) 06 - General Category R/C Model Aircraft
5.9 No member shall fly a model directly over pit or spectator areas; vessels; vehicles; and structures; no-fly zones as designated on the club field layout or any other areas where there are people or emergency response personnel performing their duties.
5.10 All initial turns after take-off shall be made away from the pit, spectator and parking areas.
Exemption from Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulations
9. The member of MAAC operating a RPAS shall adhere to the most current version of the applicable MAAC rules, procedures, and safety guidelines;15. The member of MAAC shall not operate a RPAS in such a reckless or negligent manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger aviation safety or the safety of any person.
The club announced the Phelan Aero-tow event in August 2019 on their Facebook page stating, “Come out and experience our 600 x 60 ft grass field with plenty of surrounding bailout area.”, “The field and the local tugs easily handle 5-6 m sailplanes.” The term, “Bail out” is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as, “To jump out of an aircraft with a parachute because the aircraft is going to have an accident: The plane engine failed and the pilot was forced to bail out.” With the club’s runway less than 150 meters from the neighbour’s house and 70 meters from the neighbouring properly line, it certainly looks like the club considers the neighbouring property as part of that “plenty of surrounding bailout area.” Where is this bailout area exactly?
On November 2nd, 2019 a woman was killed by a remote controlled plane 500 meters away from the flying site, the house neighbouring the Phelan RC Flying Club is less than 150 meters away from the runway. This accident was noticed by the Phelan RC flying club as they posted the link to the article stating, “A grim reminder how seriously we need to treat some of our ‘flying toys.’” This strongly suggests the Phelan RC Flying Club membership know that their activities are dangerous. The heavier and faster the aircraft are, the higher the risks of seriously injuring or killing someone and the increased likelihood of causing damage to property. If a glider; an aircraft without a motor weighting about 5 kg can instantly kill someone what can an aircraft up to 35 kg (77.2 pounds) with a powerful engine do? Logic suggests that the potential damage even greater. The following pictures and description are from the Taiwan English News. The neighbours of the Phelan RC Flying Club also have a young child so seeing an accident like this really demonstrate the danger.
Taiwan English News, section Health and Safety, November 3, 2019, by Phillip CharlieWoman killed by remote controlled glider: American taken in for questioning
A woman carrying her two-year-old child was killed instantly after a remote controlled glider struck her in the head as she strolled along a boardwalk in Kenting National Park, Saturday, November 2.
Ms Lin, 36, from Tainan City, was enjoying a day trip in Longpan Park with her family when the approximately 5 kilogram model glider being own by a competitor in the Taiwan leg of an international slope soaring competition slammed into her and the child at around 4:50pm. Lin died on the spot, while the child suffered a deep cut to his neck.
… The F3F Radio Control Slope Soaring World Cup competition was situated around 500 meters from the accident site, and it is suspected that strong wind gusts sent the glider out of control.
… A 57-year-old American man identified as “David” in local media reports, and the local organizer of the competition, Mr Zeng, were taken in for questioning on suspicion of negligent death and injury. According to United Daily News, David refused to make a statement in the absence of legal representation.
According to reports, it is the fourth time the soaring world cup competition has been held at Longpan Park, which is considered a world class site for slope soaring remote control gliders. A world speed record was set at the location in 2013.… However, in light of the incident, Kenting National Park Management Office ordered the event cancelled for safety considerations.
It is not enough to say that if club members followed the rules (of which there is ample evidence to the contrary) that the activity would be safer, the distance is just too close and is too dangerous. Wouldn’t it be responsible for MAAC to immediately close all RC flying clubs flying giant scale aircraft that are within a 500 meter radius of residents?