308 Got your model aircraft permit yet?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 6 months ago

Suppose you get interested in flying what have always been called "flying models?"

Know what I mean? The model airplanes that just about all of us have flown, or at least seen flown, somewhere or other?

We used to use piano wires to control them, but for many years now they have been radio controlled.


They now seem to have a new name: Drones.

Apparently anything that doesn't have a pilot these days is called a drone, not a remote controlled flying model.

For example, a man called F.C. Hamman, who is a South African freelance film-maker, was hauled off by the police recently when he and his 21 year old son were taking pictures from the air of the clinic in South Africa where Nelson Mandela is being treated.

He was very careful not to fly the remote controlled model anywhere near the clinic. He just flew it a distance away and let it film the intense activity around the hospital, where crowds of jostling journalists have mingled with well-wishers paying tribute to South Africa's former president.

Hamman said he had already used the home-built flying camera in other film projects and had also assisted police with surveillance work in operations against suspected drug-dealers in the crime-plagued Johannesburg suburb of El Dorado. "We didn't realize we were breaking any laws," he said.

"You can't fly one of those things without a permit," one police officer said at the hospital after Hamman was escorted away. Pretoria police declined to comment further. No charges have been filed as yet.

However, what is interesting is that President Barack Obama just started an official visit to South Africa, which will include stops in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and--of course--Pretoria.

Somebody asked Hamman how he thought Obama's huge security detail might react if he launched the flying "eye in the sky" in the vicinity of the President.

Hamman chuckled. "That would be a mistake."

Yes, it would. Yes indeedy!

We live in an increasingly odd world.

Got your model aircraft flying license yet?

I'll tell you what. Nitroglycerin, I happen to know from experience gained when I was thirteen, is dead easy to make.

Now if you were to make one of those flying models and put a quart bottle of nitro in it.........


Tom Garrett 3 years, 6 months ago

Imagine going outside with your kids to fly a model airplane and having homeland security come roaring around the corner in six cars, wearing swat team gear, loaded for bear, guns drawn, and yelling at you to "drop that control?"


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