Flight Safety

Disciplined Jet Flying
A challenge to apply our skills.
By Bob Violett

  Our sport is certainly attractive to any aviation minded spectator.  That’s why they will pay to attend major jet events or show up at your local club field to be entertained, especially if the jets are flying.  As jet pilots, we have an extra obligation to make sure that no spectator or fellow modeler feels uncomfortable or concerned for their safety when our jets are airborne.  High speed, low, and close-in passes are thrilling to some, but certainly not worth the risk of a tragic accident.  Humans can error and electro/mechanical equipment can fail.  Therefore, all fly-bys should be a safe distance out from the flight line (about 100ft), always parallel to the flight line, and speed limited to 200 mph per AMA Turbine Waiver regulations.  Additionally, no high performance model should ever be pointed at the flight line at high power and speed.  Further, any low fly-by, even beyond 100 ft separation, must have the approval of your spotter (see below) that you have a “clear deck” i.e., no person is picking up model parts in the field.

  There is certainly some personal satisfaction in having spectators and fellow modelers recognize and applaud your piloting skills.  While almost any jet pilot can make repeated low/fast fly-bys, it becomes boring to watch.  Our skills are better applied and appreciated if we present a precision routine that reflects true practiced airmanship.  Those who have experienced competitive “pattern flying” know and appreciate this form of discipline. Every    fly-by and turn around are precisely planned to set up for the next precision maneuver.  Every flight now has a structured and determined mission i.e., fly those maneuvers even more perfectly than the last.

  Flying straight up-lines and down-lines with rudder dialed in for crosswind correction and still remain on track is challenging.  Each    fly-by should be a set distance out, parallel to the flight line at a constant speed and altitude in preparation for a prescribed turn around and/or maneuver.

  The N.S.R.C.A. (National Society of Radio Controlled Aerobatics) is the AMA’s Special Interest Group (S.I.G.) for pattern flyers.  Their website (www.NSRCA.us) features a Power Point description of every required maneuver in the various classes of competition.  You could select some maneuvers and put together a routine that fits your experience level.  Add to it as you progress.

  I did some competitive pattern flying in the early 80’s.  That training is reflected in my jet demonstration flying thirty years later, and often receives favorable comments from spectators.  Although they are not sure why they appreciate the presentation, “precision and smoothness” is present in their comments.

  There are a few highly skilled jet flyers who think they are beyond human error or that the model they are flying cannot experience an electro/mechanical failure of any component.  Well, some of these “Hot Dogs” have been at the controls when their models shed wings etc. at some high profile events.  One would think that these experiences would cause them to be more concerned about that possibility.  If these people make you feel uncomfortable at any time during one of their “Hot-Dog” demonstrations, step up to the plate and express your concerns to your club officers or Contest Director before an unfortunate tragedy occurs.

  Some of these “Hot-Dogs” have a reputation for being “scary”.  This could go against them and AMA authorized officials who look the other way should an accident occur.  Turbine Waiver pilots are charged with an increased responsibility for safe flying.  If they can’t accept that, they should be reprimanded accordingly. 

  Some of these renegades say, “We live in a free country, this is America! I have a right to fly my model however I want.”  Anyone with knowledge of history and human behavior knows that freedom can only be established and maintained through responsible behavior.  Endangering other modelers on the flight line, and causing spectator concern is not responsible or acceptable behavior.

   If you are a Contest Director or AMA Charter Club official, you have the authority and obligation to stop/ prevent safety threatening behavior by any pilot and especially those flying high performance models such as turbine powered jets.

   Our sport is very special to most of us.  The impending FAA NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) may threaten our future and that of the related businesses and jobs.  And, since the FAA is charged with “Public Safety” as are other government agencies, we should conduct ourselves such that we give them no reason to pay attention to us.  I have a particular interest in preventing regulation of our sport by any government entity.  We must all understand that our behavior now and in the future can affect our privilege to continue enjoying our sport.

   The most recent AMA/FAA Advisory announces that the release date for the NPRM has been postponed from February 2012 to Spring 2012.  This gives us a little more time to demonstrate that we can operate responsibly as the majority of us have, and that we can influence those few “renegades” to clean up their act.

A Spotter/Caller Is Important

   A spotter/caller has two basic duties to enhance safe operations.  First, alert the pilot of any manned aircraft in the area and advise the pilot to reduce altitude and airspeed such that no possible threat could be perceived.  Second, the spotter should advise the pilot if any person ventures onto the flying field beyond the established flight line.  Both of these duties can only be accomplished if the spotter is constantly scanning the sky and ground.


   The average R/C club runway is 50-75 ft wide.  It should be used only for take-off and landings.

Related Articles:

See www.bvmjets.com/Safety Issues

Contact Us
All graphics, photos, and text Copyright 2012 BVM, Inc.
Use of graphics or photos without written permission from BVM is strictly prohibited.