Model aircraft operations are for hobby or recreational purposes only.

The FAA has partnered with several industry associations to promote Know Before You Fly, a campaign to educate the public about using unmanned aircraft safely and responsibly. Individuals flying for hobby or recreation are strongly encouraged to follow safety guidelines, which include:

  • Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
  • Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
  • Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
  • Don’t fly near people or stadiums
  • Don’t fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs
  • Don’t be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft

The statutory parameters of a model aircraft operation are outlined in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95 (the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012) (PDF). Individuals who fly within the scope of these parameters do not require permission to operate their UAS; any flight outside these parameters (including any non-hobby, non-recreational operation) requires FAA authorization. For example, using a UAS to take photos for your personal use is recreational; using the same device to take photographs or videos for compensation or sale to another individual would be considered a non-recreational operation.

FPV – Unmanned Aircraft Operation Utilizing First-Person View

First-Person View Refers to the operation of a radio controlled (RC) sUAS using an onboard camera’s cockpit view to orient and control the aircraft. FPV aircrafts are RC sUAS equipped with a video transmitter to send real-time video images from an onboard camera to a ground-based receiver for display on a pilot’s video monitor/goggles. (FPV sUAS types include: fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and multi-rotor platforms.)

FPV pilots who are capable of maintaining stable flight of an FPV sUAS within its intended flight envelope while flying by FPV without losing control or having a collision. An FPV spotter/observer is an experienced RC pilot who has been briefed by the FPV pilot on the tasks, responsibilities, and procedures involved in being a spotter, is capable and mature enough to perform the duties, and is able to assume conventional VLOS(Visual Line of Site) control of the FPV sUAS.

For more information, download the AMA official Form 550 document for official FPV information and guidelines. AMA has provided specific guidelines for FPV activity for its members. These guidelines and related safety considerations can be found in the AMA Safety Code and in AMA document #550 outlining FPV operations.

AMA Document #105 – AMA Safety Code

AMA Document #550 – First Person View (FPV) Operations

AMA Document #551 – FPV Systems Indoor Flying

General FPV Guidelines

1. An FPV-equipped model must be flown by two AMA members utilizing a buddy-box system. The pilot in command must be on the primary transmitter, maintain visual contact, and be prepared to assume control in the event of a problem.

2. The operational range of the model is limited to the pilot in command’s visual line of sight as defined in the Official AMA National Model Aircraft Safety Code – see Radio Control, item 9

3. The flight path of model operations shall be limited to the designated flying site and approved overfly area.

4. The model weight and speed shall be limited to a maximum of 10 pounds and 60 miles per hour.

– Rich Hanson, AMA Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs Representative