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Federal drone regulations threaten hobbyists

Macedon, N.Y. Theres a battle brewing over drones and flying clubs say theyre getting caught in the middle.

In the 10 years Jake Kirsch has been building and flying, he says his sport has certainly changed.

"When I started out a lot of it was mechanical based. Now it's electronic based. The price is a fraction of what it used to be, the capabilities are so much better," says Kirsch.

Cameras on one aircraft can capture images of another using a transmitter. Those video images can be sent and viewed on any remote monitor.

"It's as if Im on the vehicle in the first person watching what it sees," says Robert Juncosa.

In the wrong hands, first person viewing raises all kinds of concerns.

"It used to be that you could only fly it where you could see it. Now you can fly these beyond your line of site," says Juncosa.

"What about privacy? Nobody wants a drone sitting outside their office window, their living room window, or even their bedroom window looking at whats going on," says Senator Chuck Schumer.

Senator Schumer says a recent court decision threw out the FAAs ability to regulate use of drones. Yet hobbyists say existing privacy law are enough.

"Privacy laws are very specific, you can't look at somebody through their window with binoculars but we dont ban binoculars or telescopes," Says Kirsch.

Flying clubs that already follow the rules and safety guidelines of the AMA eye any new restriction, regulation, or outright ban of their sport as excessive.

"As an organization we're not against regulation, we're against heavy handed and over reaching regulation," says Juncosa.

The recent court rulings blocked the FAA from regulating the commercial use of drones but that has changed the picture for hobby groups. Their relationship with the FAA is now in jeopardy as the federal government looks at the larger issue of who can fly these and how.

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Washington Times