It is the opinion of the editorial board (Gary and myself) that we follow and report on this story as it is of interest to the Global RPAS community. We will endeavor to report the information as it becomes available.
Most of us are aware of Raphael Pirker (aka Trappy) and Team Blacksheep’s exploits as their videos are all over the web and the subject of heated debates in different forums. It is almost impossible to hear the subject debated in a civil manner as there are two very distinct camps formed up on this issue. One side believes that Trappy has the right to fly his RC plane the way he does and that he is charting new territory in the First Person View (FPV) world. Others believe the behavior appears reckless and in some cases, disrespectful.
My own personal experience with the case started the day the New York video was posted on the web. I was in the wilds of Arizona training a contingent of NATO troops to operate the PGSS system. Out in the middle of the desert my cell phone starts to blow up with accounts of how some FPV guy was buzzing the head of the Statue of Liberty. The folks that I spoke with were very unhappy and planned on reporting the exploits to the Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Ms. Margaret (Peggy) Gilligan.
After the first couple of calls, it was apparent that some folks were going to demand action. The other subject that is hotly debated is the FAA’s charge, jurisdiction and policy. Here, we have a very mixed bag of opinions on how, what and where the FAA holds sway. Raphael is the first person we know of that has actually been given the civil penalty by the FAA for a UAS.
When you read through the Motion, you will see many of the issues that are discussed and debated in the greater RC/FPV/UAS community come to light. Many of these questions have been asked over the years since the policy clarification of February 13, 2007.
Without a doubt, there is a lot riding on this issue for both the community and FAA. As we have seen in the past, people start to line up on those different sides of those issues with independent views on how the law works, what image the community should portray. Whatever the eventual outcome, we should at the very least have a better understanding and some clarification on how the process is supposed to work, and discern where exactly the U.S. RPAS community stands.
To be continued…
The text of the FAA’s complaint against Trappy.