The most up to date rules regarding flying model aircraft are located on the Know before you Fly website. Always check there first!
Over the last couple years there has been much discussion concerning the 400 foot flying limit at NMA’s field. In our case this limit applies to four hundred feet above the club runway (AGL). Not the edge of the cliff or the golf fairway below the NMA field. Nampa Model Aviators charter and club safety rules state that modelers must comply with AMA safety code. The Academy of Model Aeronautics National Model Aircraft Safety Code states:
Model aircraft pilots will not fly higher that approximately 400 feet above ground level within three (3) miles of an airport, without notifying the airport operator.
We have contacted the AMA in person and have verified that this is the one and only restriction concerning this matter. It does not matter whether or not the airspace is controlled or if the airport has a control tower. It is a simple 3 mile radius. If you are inside this radius the limit applies, if you are outside the radius, there are no restrictions.
The 400 foot limit is also mentioned in the FAA’s Advisory Circular (AC 91-57) entitled Model Aircraft Operating Standards published in June 1981.
Do not fly model aircraft higher than 400 feet above the surface,” and goes on to say, “When flying aircraft within 3 miles of an airport, notify the airport operator, or when an air traffic facility is located at the airport, notify the control tower, or flight service station.
FAA Advisory Circular’s provide guidance, best practice information and information to the aviation community. They are not regulatory or law. However, they have been referenced in NTSB reports. An AC is issued when there is a safety issue present. There is a fundamental disparity between the FAA’s guidance for model aviation and the AMA Safety Code. This has existed for a LONG time. For now Nampa Model Aviators adhere’s to the AMA Safety Code on this issue.
Recently the FAA has issues Special Rules for the operation of model aircraft. These rules are available here.
Information on Nampa Airport’s Traffic Pattern
The Traffic Pattern Altitude (TPA) for Nampa Municipal Airport is 3537 feet. TPA’s are always listed in MSL. That’s the recommended 1000 feet above the airport elevation. Both runways in Nampa, 11 and 29, use a left hand pattern. Aircraft in the pattern for runway 11 are in the direct vicinity of Nampa Model Aviators field. The elevation of Nampa Model Aviators is 2590 MSL. These aircraft should be at ~950 feet above the field. That is over twice the distance of the 400 foot limit in the AMA Safety code.
More information: Non-Towered airport procedures
So, can I fly above 400 feet?
Well yes and no.
The AMA’s Safety Code says not to fly above 400 feet without notifying the airport operator, in this case the City of Nampa.
The AMA’s See and Avoidance Guidance document #540 states that a spotter must be used when the flight is expected to be above 400 ft AGL.
So if we notify the Nampa Airport and use a spotter you certainly can!
B4UFLY Smartphone App
There is also a Smartphone app that shows you