UPDATE: Watch the video
UPDATE: Sign the petition
A bill has been introduced into the Oregon State Senate that would criminalize FPV flying and quite possibly all RC aviation throughout the state. Senate Bill 71, meant to regulate “drones,” declares that this situation is an emergency, so that it will go into effect immediately after being passed into law.
Believe it or not, the legislative shenanigans go even further than that: this is a “shadow bill” – a term that I had never heard before – which means that its author and/or sponsors are not identified.
Legislating anonymously: I can think of no better way to demonstrate the courage of your convictions.
Anyway, you can read it for yourself in .PDF form by clicking here. Go ahead. I'll wait.
It's hard to know where to even begin with this proposal. I'll just pluck some of the low-hanging fruit to get the ball rolling.
The bill defines a drone as a “an unmanned flying machine that is capable of [among other things] capturing images of objects or people on the ground.” I'd argue that, by this definition, all but the very smallest and lightest indoor RC aircraft are “drones,” because they are “capable” of capturing images – if you attach a small camera to them.
That is something that should have every RC pilot in the state worried. For those of us in the FPV community, it's much, much worse. The moment this bill becomes law, I become a criminal – guilty of a Class B Misdemeanor. My crime? Possessing multirotor aircraft equipped for FPV flight operations.
That's right – merely possessing a “drone” is a crime, even if you never fly it. Other Class B Misdemeanors in Oregon? Carrying a concealed switchblade or stealing $50 worth of merchandise.
If you actually fly a drone, that's a Class A Misdemeanor, equivalent to carrying a concealed firearm without a license or driving drunk.
Let's forget for the moment about the folks who enjoy flying FPV (or RC) for fun – instead, let's consider the broader implications of this proposal for Oregon as a whole. I find it astonishing that while business and community leaders are hard at work, trying to get Oregon designated as one of six civilian drone test sites nationwide – because it has the potential to put our state at the forefront of a field that will be a major economic driver for the next several decades – some anonymous neo-luddite in the state senate is trying to slam our borders shut to this industry.
Furthermore, the bill seems to completely disregard the existing businesses in Oregon that already employ people to build drones, such as Insitu, located in Hood River. Is the economic recovery going so well, especially in the rural parts of the state, that we can afford to shut down a manufacturer because an ill-considered law transforms its products into contraband overnight?
Here at the Roswell Flight Test Crew, we are hobbyists – we do this because we enjoy it and because we believe this technology has almost unlimited capability to help people. This mission has already brought us into contact with several high-tech companies here in Oregon, who also see this potential.
To us, this comes as another indicator of the future economic implications of this technology and its potential to grow jobs in Oregon – let alone its potential life-saving applications and its status as one of the fastest-growing segments of the $1.5 billion per year hobby industry.
We need your help to oppose this bill and keep it from ever becoming law!
Also, if you're a member of the Academy of Model Aviation (like Techinstein and me) contact the government relations team and let them know that we really need their help. If you're not a member of the AMA, become one and then follow the instructions in the first sentence of this paragraph.
If you're outside of Oregon, take a hard look at what your own state legislature is doing. I have a hunch that this is a piece of model legislation dreamed up by some interest group, and they may well be shopping it around to other states, as well.