I am new to building RC aircraft. I am wondering which association I should join. I found the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). Is that association suitable for people who are interested in building RC aircraft, or should I look for another association instead?

(Please provide answers relevant to major cities in the United States and Canada. Thank you)

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    $\begingroup$ The good thing is that you don't need to join any association to build your own RC aircraft, but If you do want to join one, there are a lot of different options and providing a few more details about what you are looking for in an association would be helpful. $\endgroup$
    – Jacob B
    Aug 15 '20 at 18:54

As for EAA - No. They seem to be politically on the good side of drone (anti-RID / Docket ID FAA-2019-1100). They do not mention any CBO (community based organization) direction searching the site. They are Oshkosh based, a legacy aviation mecca for stunt flight. Their agenda is legacy (general) aviation and like the AOPA they are likely looking for money in a time of decline and diminishing interest.

Regarding CBO and recreational flight in the USA (current), the AMA is the closest, but they are not a CBO (yet). The CBO regs and the recreational flight test are late (and required). Per the way the regulations work, until this is settled all recreational RC flight is in a "non-legal" (and not not totally illegal) state. If you do not fly under a CBO you need to be commercial (generally speaking).

Simply put, in the USA the technical requirement for all non-commercial 250gram+ recreational flight is to be conducted in accordance with a CBO. You need the CBO rules but not the membership.

Look at the details surrounding the repeal of 336 and the following pivot in regulation and pay attention to the NRPM for RID (docket from above). I posted an anti-RID comment creator that goes over a lot of the drama under the hood.

There is a Federal requirement for CBO ruleset for rec flight. A CBO has a number of complex and limiting criteria that makes these orgs rare.

As a reminder on our dire situation, the FAA has missed all of the critical timelines for this work. The way the legislation is written the FAA recognized identification areas (FRIAs) will spell the doom of all rec RC flight in the USA due to a technicality still not addressed (short version: FRIA applications have a fixed window for application, after that no more can apply, so when a field has to move it has to close).

Right now there is no organization I would recommend joining and this is why I became a commercial (107) pilot. I fly under aviation rules, I insure myself and I am only beholden to the FAA and am entitled considerably more rights and privileges. Anyone serious about this hobby should consider a commercial license, join that organization.

As for Canada, their laws are similar but more strict and actually enforced (unlike the USA). You need some special permitting to fly more then 250 grams.

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. Just a few years ago I was involved in a Canadian university engineering team that regularly flew RC fixed-wings. The flights were on university-owned rural land (like a nature reserve). I wasn't aware of the laws :p $\endgroup$
    – Flux
    Aug 16 '20 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Flux The new CA laws are 2-3 years old right now, here's a summary: uavcoach.com/drone-laws-in-canada. In the USA we have operational exceptions for schools and fields that essentially put the area on the flight maps and provides a long standing exemption. That could explain, but probably you were pre-new laws or people did not know (more common). $\endgroup$ Aug 17 '20 at 21:10

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