A basic question from a neighbor

Discussion in 'RC Aircraft & Watercraft' started by ezdays, May 22, 2007.

  1. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Hi, just as a matter of introduction, I'm Don Day, one of the administrators over at the Gauge, the train forum that Peter moved here a few weeks ago.:-D

    I have a basic question that never has been answered regarding flying R/C planes. When I retired, I thought that R/C planes would be something neat to spend my free time doing. I watched every episode of Chris Chianneli on the DYI channel and noticed he referred to having a license, but he never once mentioned how, or what is required to get one. One day I stopped by my local hobby shop and asked this question of the guy there, and I got such a rude reception and remark as he turned and walked away, that I decided that trains wouldn't be such a bad hobby after all. No license required and I can do everything at home and I had an equal fascination for trains as well.:thumb:

    So, just out of curiosity, and in the event someone else might want to know, what is actually required of someone before they can apply for a R/C flying license, and how does one go about getting one? Does one go to classes to qualify? Is there some sort of field test, or what? I guess the store clerk was more interested in immediate sales rather than cultivating a long-term customer.:???:

    BTW, come on over to our forums and look around, we're a friendly group and we'd like to get to know our new neighbors.:wave::wave:
  2. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    Im not sure don but that does bring up another question. A friend of mine was looking a buying honda pilot suv but wasnt sure if he just needed his drivers licence or a pilots licence allso.:mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen:
  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    That sounds like a real dilema Roger. Me, I'd tell him to buy something else before he looses his mind with worry.sign1sign1

    But, still, this being a R/C airplane forum, I would surly hope that someone here has gotten their R/C license and would be willing to share the steps the took to get it.:wave::wave:
  4. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    I will be watching for replys don. now you got me thinking some of those rc's are down right BIG. Hate to think that anybody could fly them.
  5. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member


    As near as I can tell, you don't require a license, per se. The FCC controls the frequencies and output power which can be used for R/C. As long as you operate within the range of those frequencies, you can operate an R/C system. A long time ago, when R/C was in its infancy and people essentially built and operated their own systems you did need a radio operators license. Those days are long gone.

    Here's a link that may help:

    FCC - Who Needs A Commercial Operator License?
  6. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    I'm not sure if it's the FCC or the FAA that requires the license. I do recall some of those episodes where Chris took his license and hung it up on a board so that others knew what frequency he was using. I also remember him saying that some of those bigger jets that they were flying at the modeler's "Top Gun" meet required a different license. I could be wrong, but it's my impression that one is needed to fly anything other than a battery operated park flyer.
  7. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    I was out at the shooting range today and was talking to a retired AA pilot who also used to fly R/C planes. To be sure, he still has a few that he wants to show me, and he doesn't live that far away so I'm going to take him up on his offer.

    Now, he says that there is no license required to fly R/C aircraft. :? There are some restrictions on where you can fly them since you need a runway and some clear airspace. I told him about Chris and his shows and that he repeatedly talked about "his license", and he wondered if it wasn't granted by the FCC and not the FAA... Back in the "old days" I guess an FCC license was required to operate equipment that used certain frequency bands.

    I would still like to hear from some accomplished R/C pilots to let us know what their take is on this issue.
  8. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Don, the frequency board is used to avoid having two pilots attempt to use the same frequency at the same time. I say attempt because it only goes that far. If one of them is in the air...he'll soon find himself picking up the pieces...Before any one attempts to fly he checks the frequency board to avoid turning his radio on if someone is already using the frequency. Upon landing, a pilot will retire his "pin" from the frequency board to allow other pilots the use of that frequency.
  9. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Forgot to ask...Who is Chris..??
  10. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Look in the first post here, he's the guy that hosted the DIY show on R/C stuff. A couple of his shows actually featured model trains including DCC. He went on to host the series Working on the Railroad. I've got all his train episodes on DVR. One day, when I get the energy and time, I'll have to transfer them to tape or disk. The last time I recorded them the DVR hard drive went belly-up before I had a chance to copy them.:eek: Procrastination is the scourge of humanity.:rolleyes: :rolleyes:

    But I diverge, I'm still waiting for some R/C people to show up and comment on this. Yoooo-hoooo :wave: :wave: :wave: :wave:
  11. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Still no response from any R/C fliers, it's amazing that someone doesn't know.

    I met a guy that used to fly R/C planes. As a matter of fact, he's invited me over to his house to look at them, and since he only lives a few blocks from me, I'll do it. His comment was that one does not need a license of any kind to fly R/C planes. Apparently, there was a time that the FCC required you to have a license to use a R/C transmitter, but apparently, one doesn't need one now days. Gee, if that's the case, what does a flier do if they can't hang up their license on that frequency board?:confused: :confused:

    There's still a few unanswered questions in my mind that I wish someone with R/C flying experience would stop by here and talk about. :wave: :wave: Not that I'm going to get into it, but this was one issue that kept me from pursuing that as a hobby rather than model trains.

    Oh yeah, I'm pleased with the choice I did make though, no doubt about that...:thumb: :thumb:
  12. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Don...Normally the frequency board is already furnished with frequency "tags". When a flier wants to fly, he picks the tag corresponding to the frequency he will use off the board and keeps it for the duration of his flight. If a flier wants to use that same frequency he will go to the board and, since the tag is not tjere, he'll know it's being used and refrain from operating his radio. Once the guy using the frequency is finished flying, he'll return the tag to the board so others can make use of that frequency. The frequencies are color coded so you can tell at a glance if your frequency is in use...
    BTW...I flew R/C for close to 20 years, before returning full-time to my trains...:thumb:
  13. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    P.D....I often think of doing some R/C again..but....Nahh..It's too much like work, and then you depend on having a nice day to fly...
  14. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Now that's the opposite of what they were saying on the DIY channel. He was saying that you clipped your license to the position that represented the frequency that you were going to use. If there was no card there, you knew that frequency was open. But... if you don't need a license, then that wouldn't work most of the time now, would it?:mrgreen:
  15. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    That would be right..!! Let me say that what I've described was the way it was done at our R/C club, and at several others I went to for contests. There are probably variations to this scheme, but the idea is, if you don't have the frequency pin, you don't turn your radio on...
  16. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    Back when i was younger we used to ride our bicycles up to the vocational school on sundays to watch the older guys fly planes. When i looked into flying myself (bought a used pt40 and summarily crashed it into a roof) at the time the rc flying organization required you to have a license to fly. Just basic saftey stuff but it wasn't like a fishing license where you would get in trouble w/ the law.

    Some of the larger planes (jets and such) would require clearance and a flight plan to be filed w/ the local air port, which tickled me then and now because how cool is THAT!? *my best pilot voice* Uh .. tower this is tango roger one niner clearing for landing :). heheheh.

    Anyway :) There is a big airplane club in the pittman, nj area, they were in the papers a couple of times. I'll see if they are doing anything in the near future and i'll stop by and ask.
  17. Rszanti

    Rszanti New Member

    As an active RC flyer I can state there is no license required. Many, many, many years ago a license was required to operate an RC radio but no longer. There are radios available, built specifically for this hobby, that meet all the requirements of the FCC and do not require any type of registration or license. There are limits as to where you can fly and how high you can fly, particularly around airports. This is set by the FAA.

    As mentioned previously, the "frequency board" provides a way of controlling who is using a specific radio frequency while flying, this to prevent interference between users. This is a "club" mandated item and does depend upon the members following the correct procedure set up by the club. There are many different ways to set up a frequency board, it only needs to be used properly to work. There is also a new type of radio, just becoming available, which will not interfere with any other radio. It's referred to as Spread Spectrum RC and initial introduced by "Spektrum". For someone getting into the hobby this is probably the way to go.

    No license required, but there is an organization you can join, the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics .. Academy of Model Aeronautics) that provides support and insurance (important when flying a model plane) for modelers. There are also many local RC clubs you can join that provide a lot of support such as training. Both are highly recommended.

  18. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    The new 2.4ghz spread spectrum radios even do away w/ the frequency board because they frequency hop.

    I race r/c cars and at the moment it is the defacto standard, I currently have synthesized radios that don't have a crystal, they have dials you turn to generate the correct frequency so when someone is on 90, i just dial up 89 :).

    Here are some links to both types:

    Futaba 9CHP Super 9CH PCM/FM Radio Control System - Synthesized Version :: 9 Channel Radio :: Radio Controller :: RC FEVER - Walkera Dragonfly Helicopter Radio Control Store

    Spektrum RC - DX7: Fly What You Want When You Want
  19. Rszanti

    Rszanti New Member

    Can't really do away with the frequency board as there's too many RCers still using the 27, 72 & 75 mHz (in the USA) radios - probably at least 95% today. So it continues to be a good idea to have the "spread sprectrum" users use the frequency board so they don't get out of the habit of checking before they turn on their radio. If you use a spread specktrum all the time and then one time use a fixed frequency unit, there's a good chance you'll forget to check the board and someones very expensive plane could become the victim of your forgetfulness.
  20. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    Good point, and heaven knows I am a creature of habit!

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