John asked that I publish this on the JOMAC Blog . My only request was that this be placed in context but agreed that it is relevant to the broader membership.
It must be recognised that RC gliding has a number of differences to the traditional power fixed-wing side of the hobby (specifically that the launch, flying & landing are infinitely variable according to weather conditions, and not ground based fixtures such as runways). Some debate arose recently on the MGA forum (MGASA) regarding the legality of RC height restrictions & how this affects RC Gliding in South Africa. During the debate numerous comments & queries were raised, following this email arose (I have only edited the parts not relevant to the discussion on height) :
From: Peter Joffe To: firstname.lastname@example.org Sent: Saturday, 4 February 2012, 11:41 Subject: RE: [mgasa] Legal flying Hi there all, ...
Now is the time to ... leave it to those, like Lionel who is busting a gut to get the CAA to see reason. ...
I needed to set the record straight regarding this & followed up with the following email:
Just a small correction: I wish to single out Keith Nicholls who has been pivotal in HIS efforts to obtain increased ceilings for the past two or so years. Keith does not fly RC gliders - but has spent untold hours & travelling expenses, all funded by himself - to find out more & has been doing so unselfishly on behalf of RC glider pilots in SA!
I suspect that the Montgolfiers & Wright brothers et al, were still wiping down early airframes, when for some bizarre reason, the 150' (aeromodelling limit) became codified within the CAA. It is through the serious effort of Keith that constructive steps have been undertaken & the first success of national 400' approvals at SAMAA registered RC airfields have been achieved. We currently have a process in place to ensure that competitive flying, as per FAI rules (Gliding, Large Sclae, Aerobatics, & RC Jetcs), have a provisional approval for there events at specified airfields (the 2012 events list was submitted to ATNS & CAA in December last year). The next stage will be to seek & obtain approval at select RC fields for the specified activities requiring airspace defined within the FAI rules. But there are still two stumbling blocks to this: we first need to convice the CAA that the reasons for change are valid & safety is retained: after all, they claim that the 150' limit has apparently prevented accidents so far! Secondly, the CAA have informed us that they will unlikely deviate from permitting incursion into TMA - a blanket height restriction across SA in which commerical aviation operates - so we have to ensure that our requests for full operational ceiling still occur under the TMA & we are in progress with this.
This is an excrutiatingly painful process - I honestly admire Keith's patience & determination when dealing with the government departments & NGO's regarding this. However, I can assure you that SAMAA is resolute to continue in this endeavour & execute this fast as it is being permitted to do so. We should all value the support of individuals such as Keith, et al, by understanding this process & the challenges of advising changes to regulatory organisations completely outside of our own & who have vastly differing objectives to ours. Infantile responses such as demanding to fly where-ever & bumblingly incorrect statements such as "we never had this issue before" should be ignored & ultimately considered destructive towards the cohesion of our group.
My thanks to John for the opportunity to publish this to a broader audience, Lionel Brink