The FAA Shut Down Every Drone Club Within 30 Miles of Washington, DC
The Federal Aviation Administration has shut down at least 36 model aircraft clubs in the Washington, DC area, citing a new, extended no-fly zone for drones around the nation’s capital.
The FAA has been worried about the proliferation of drones for several years now, and in September extended a 15-mile no fly zone surrounding Washington, DC’s National Airport to 30 miles. The FAA has cited national security issues and airspace safety as the main reasons for its DC no-fly zone, called a “Special Flight Rules Area,” but many of the sites shut down have existed for years with no safety concerns. It’s unclear if or when the sites will be allowed to reopen.
Many of the clubs exist in huge fields many miles outside the Washington, DC border in suburban Maryland and Virginia. Fourteen of the 36 sites are accredited by the Academy of Model Aircraft, meaning they generally comply with baseline safety guidelines and are not located near airports.
The DC area has one of the country’s largest drone hobby organizations, called the DC Drone User Group, the existence of which is threatened by this new action. It regularly has fly-ins and meetups in large open fields to introduce people to the hobby. Christopher Vo, the president of the organization, said that the FAA enforcement action is a “show-stopper.”