Ordinance could restrict model airplane flying in Albany – WALB


Noise and privacy concerns could make flying a remote controlled airplane illegal in parts of Albany. 

The Citizens Advisory Committee is reviewing an ordinance that would restrict model plane operation around populated areas like parks and neighborhoods.   The issue was brought up last year after residents around Hillsman park complained about noise, but the committee isn’t convinced the ordinance is the right step.

For some, gas powered model airplanes can be an escape from daily worries. 

“It just gives me a means to get out of this chair, because I’m paying attention to the airplane, what’s going on with it, and not thinking about what’s going on sitting in this chair,” said Randall Belt, model airplane Enthusiast.

Randall Belt was paralyzed when a tree he was cutting down fell on him two years ago.  But nearly a year after neighbors complained about noise from his favorite hobby, a new ordinance may keep him grounded.

“I thought it was over, yes.  I really did,” he said.  

The city attorney’s proposal restricts model airplanes from churches, hospitals, schools and parks in an effort to reduce privacy and noise concerns of overhead aircrafts.  But the planes don’t exceed noise ordinances, and the Citizen’s Advisory Committee hasn’t heard of privacy violations so far.

“There are also some issues around how, if there were an ordinance, how would you enforce that,” Mary Ligon, Citizens Advisory Committee Chair asked.   

The committee also doesn’t know how to enforce a suggested 400 foot elevation limit.

“You really can’t tell how high you are when you’re flying and all because it’s really difficult to say well I’m a hundred feet,or two hundred feet,” said Belt. 

The Committee wants to research different spaces within Albany they say are best suited for flying remote controlled aircraft.  And they say Hilsman park continues to be a strong candidate.

“What’s formerly the first tee area out behind the back of the civic center, that’s a fairly open area.  So that might be a consideration,” said Ligon.  

And that means more enthusiasts like Belt could be piloting airplanes in designated areas in the city.

The proposal would keep planes from flying within three miles of the airport.  The committee will revisit the issue January 27th in Room 120 of the Government Center at 12pm.  


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