RC planes as terror weapons? Share your thoughts

Sep 29, 2011 75 Comments by

This week, a 26-year-old man from Framingham, Massachusetts, was arrested and charged with plotting terror attacks on Washington, apparently planning to use a $6,000 RC turbine jet and other RC planes to deliver explosives. The authorities note that this man was never a real threat because undercover FBI operatives were keeping tabs on him, but when many Model Airplane News readers around the world heard this news they were understandably concerned about their sport.

The AMA will continue to work with the FAA and other government agencies to educate them and to protect the rights of RC pilots. What do you think about this news story? Is there anything else that we, as a modeling community, can do to help avoid–or at least reduce–situations like this one? Share your comments here.

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75 Responses to “RC planes as terror weapons? Share your thoughts”

  1. RC Guy says:

    I’m surprised this hasn’t happened sooner. The problem doesn’t have anything to do with R/C; it has everything to do with the availability of explosives. Until you control the explosives, any idiot can use any type of vehicle, including an RC plane, to blow things up.

    • ALRUI says:

      @RC Guy – You are so off base its pitiful, explosive ARE controlled, very very controlled. This goofball got the C4 because our federal government sold them to him as part of their entrapment scheme he didnt acquire anything he had on his own!

  2. Don McGabe says:

    don’t even know where, technically, he was going to put the explosives … inside a turbine is crowded with the engine and fuel! I hope they lock him up and throw away the key! The fuel itself would have made a small fireball and could inflict a small amount of damage, but nothing significant.

    Was he going to take off in front of the White House??

  3. Gerry Yarrish says:

    Unfortunately we now live in a world with crazy people doing crazy things. I would hope that security people around the nation are aware that someone with an RC jet trying to takeoff from a street (and not an approved AMA flying site,) would be of concern in general! I too think that being able to get a hold of explosives is much more a problem than thinking RC pilots could be terrorists. If you want to buy a gun or get a commerical driver’s license you do need to have your ID (and finger prints) checked by the FBI. Let’s hope this won’t be a future AMA requirement for renewing our cards!

    • Don says:

      The amount of explosives that could be carried by the models depicted in the reports is very small. The danger of a car bomb is almost infinitely higher. You don’t need to have your ID and finger prints checked by the FBI to buy a commercial truck to fill with explosives – only to drive one legally, which, in this case, is a moot point. They, too, can be controlled remotely and autonomously and carry a significant amount of explosives.

  4. Ross Jackson says:

    I agree that it has more to do with the ready availability of explosive materials, the fact is that some of them are used for common household purposes (take fertilizer, for instance). Thus it will be far easier for our ever expanding government to regulate RC airplanes, than to do anything about these types of products.

  5. Hobby Enthusiast says:

    Those of us in the hobby have long understood the potential for real damage that our ‘toys’ carry with them (AMA Insurance isn’t almost universally required at airfields just so we can carry another laminated card in our wallet). Add explosives into the mix and it’s kind of a wonder some crackpot, and I mean ANY crackpot from extreme religious fundamentalist to native-born anarchist to someone who thinks he’s the ‘second coming’, hadn’t thought of this before. Of course, maybe they have and law enforcement stepped in before their plan got to such an advanced stage. We can’t know because we don’t have perfect information, but one thing is clear: this world has always been one of tenuous safety at best, we have just created technologies that make causing harm an easier, cheaper and more efficient affair than it had ever been before. In addition, no matter what steps are taken in the guise of safeguarding the public from such a ‘menace’ as our beloved hobby, there will always be another nut-job waiting to make his mark that will not be deterred by such measures. It will simply make them look elsewhere for a means to achieve their goals.

  6. Rick says:

    Unfortunately I agree with Ross, easier to blame the sport of RC than deal with real problem. Another issue is some of these FPV folks are really adding to the problem. Saw a Youtube vid of a guy buzzing the Washington Monument with FPV from apartment in DC…Angry idiots and bad things to come to our beloved sport of RC aviation. Let’s all keep it safe and keep an eye at your local fields.

  7. SCARHARDT says:

    wicked, ive heard of a guy doing this with a HPI;5B, these things are possible, but indeed, what does it do to our beloved hobby/sport?

    i cant live without my “toys”

  8. Kelly says:

    I just hope the Feds don,t try to ban R.C airplanes. I love the hobby and if they try regulate us to the hilt many people may get out of the hobby. In real life a car or truck can do more damage then a model airplane so whats the government going to do next ban cars and trucks. Whats next?

  9. Ed Moreland says:

    I think we have more to worrier about then one lone idiot.
    With this happening on the heals of the FAA trying to regulate our hobby is not good.
    I hope the AMA stays on top of this and shows how impossible it would have been because of payload restrictions that our hobby is still safe and that the government needs to tighten there security in other areas.

  10. Scott Orten RCAIR says:

    US man planned to blow up Pentagon
    APBy JAY LINDSAY – Associated Press

    This is a joke. The airplanes shown are made of Foam, you know the kind of foam that packing peanuts are made of. Neither can fly over 80 MPH. Most interesting is that if any amount of weight were added they will not get off the ground or fly at all. The range of the radio is to short for this. I don’t think this is going to be a problem
    Scott Orten Grafton WI

  11. Rogerio Araujo says:

    When I saw this on breaking news in Brasil yesterday, I immediately contacted my american friends and Debra at Model Airplane News for a heads up. What this can affect me in Brasil? I hope very little. But that’s a trend that all anti- terrorist measures USA takes, rest of the world follows suit. I really don’t want to have to trave to US to have my fingers scanned and get a Federal License to renew my AMA license there! Beyond flying in my country, I often travel to US and enjoy RC flying with my friends there
    .Let’s help AMA to try to keep flying RC planes as a hobby and not as a threat.

  12. Rogerio Araujo says:

    When I saw that all over the media in Brasil yesterday evening, I imediately contacted my friends in US and Debra at Model Airplane News. I do hope this won’t affect the industry as severely as had affected the airline industry since 2001. Flying RC planes is a hobby (in my country officially a sport) and shall keep being treated like that. In US and worldwide.
    Banning or restricting it to get away the terrorist threat is not the solution. Instead, it is removing freedom from free people and providing reason to terrorists to keep threathening: “You see? We do something and they prohibit something! ”
    Hope you don’t let it happen. I have an AMA license and often travel to US to fly with my friends there

  13. Wcwilly says:

    Sure, why not. We use RC everyday to kill people, ie: drones.
    So, i am sure some very dumb will try it again.

  14. Bill Liston says:

    I read the FBI report and they were quoting him on the payload capacity of the planes. Has anyone ever seen specs on payload capacity for any model airplane? Other than the batteries, fuel, motor and electronics inside them, model airplanes are not designed to hold payloads. Why would anyone but this idiot ever need such specs. They were saying the jets could hold 40 lbs of explosives – - by whose estimate and exactly where would they fit? The guy is more than a little wacko. His plan is half baked at best. He should be given the electric chair to save the gene pool.

  15. Ed Hilland says:

    Reminds me of the NRA’s slogan (I’ll throw in a twist) “Planes don’t kill people……. PEOPLE kill people”. If you can parka rented van filled with foul smelling diesel fuel and Imodium nitrate in front of a federal building I’m sure you could use a drone to do damage also. I would also think that secure buildings would have an electronic/radio, microwave etc. shield to protect them from (among others) signals such as a “carrier”. Remember what a “carrier” was in CB radio days? The treat doesn’t come from the technology used, but more from the folks using the technology (I hope the FAA sees that).

  16. Mike Finley says:

    Well I am not sure how much of this was investigated by the writer of this article. The man that was attempting this was given the idea by the FBI and help him by selling him fake C4 and other parts to help him in the research of this.
    One of the problems is that the sensationalism of these types of stories just gives other wackos ideas that they may not have thought of.
    How about as a public service we quit giving the crazies ideas on how to hurt people? Keep our hobby safe and fun without worry of the wrong types of people?

    Just a thought!

  17. TRob ARob says:

    It is despicable that someone would/could take our peaceful hobby and try to turn it into a terrorist weapon of opportunity. Too many of us work hard to enjoy this beautiful piece of relaxation only to see it “used” against us in this manner. Our organization, the AMA, along with many other dedicated companies, clubs, individals, etc. are fighting hard to keep our peaceful respite exempt from the new FAA regs. and some jihadist whom has no regard for either this country or our hobby puts the spoltlight on us. I just hope no additional crackpots “walk out of the woods” to cause us any more harm or shine the undeserved Federal spotlight on our slice of joy.

    TRob

  18. Chris Stumpy Cook says:

    We will soon find out like those involved in my other Hobby that control of RC Aircraft / Vehicles, Is about Control period. Our government and Control is like a Junkie and Crack. They cant get enough and unfortunately we will suffer, Licensing by the FAA, Mandatory training, Manditory insurance, Background checks. Yes I know some of you think that I am some kind of nutcase but print this out put it in an envelope and take it out 15 years from now and I fear that I will be correct. Time to get everyone to join the AMA from the small park fliers on up, If you have the resources pay the first years membership for someone who is just barely able to aford to fly. This we must do to preserve our Sport our Hobby and ultimately our Rights!

    OK Soapbox/off
    Go fly and have fun

    • Rokcney says:

      Chris has got it right when he talks about control. I would also like to point out the ” False Flag” effort by Gov. agencies who assist or fully stage events like this to instill fear thus removing our liberties continually. Like it’s been said, ” Guns don’t kill people, people do”. It’s much easier to restrict or remove the sport, than to actually do some real work and catch the bad guys. I think it should be pretty easy to tell the difference between a responsible flyer, or someone with malicious intent, but I’m afraid we will all suffer from the acts of idiots.

  19. WarBird says:

    I don’t really see how a model airplane could carry enough explosives to do harm, its a ridiculous concept. Something like a parkzone corsair could only carry enough to break a door handle (and maybe burn the door a little), let alone cause mass destruction and fear, and then you have jets, which have a heavy turbine, which takes up space, a fuel tank, which takes up a lot of space, a battery, which takes up a lot of space, and all the electronics, which takes up the rest of the space, there is so little free room it is near impossible to make it a bottle rocket, let alone a missile. Not only that, but if the government ever had to deal with a problem like this, they have more than enough Patriot Missile batteries, SAMs, Anti Air cannons, UAVs, fly size UAVs, and jets to take out hundred of thousands of RC aircraft, regular aircraft, and missiles, I wouldn’t worry about some idiot with a plan that would never work. Then you have the CIA, with their little UAVs the size of flies, and satellites that can see and hear a gnat flying in a storm drain. As long as the socialist freak in office doesnt turn us into a communist government, Im happy with what I got right now.

    Now of course, many of you will disagree with my views, but there are many things and many people who you see everyday who happen to be working for the CIA, the USAF Intel., the FBI, etc. You may not know it, but they may be watching you right now with one of those infrared or X-ray satellites, or their massive network designed to watch us typing our views on this here post. In all reality, the saying that “Big Brother is watching you” is true. Although we wish that they wouldn’t watch us, they do anyways.

  20. Bill rendall says:

    Sadly, there is a possibility of terrorists using all sorts of product, avenues etc to do harm.
    I accept that we need to monitor these clowns but we do have to quell any hysteria before it begins though or see our toys go the way of the Gun here in Oz.

    Sometimes i wonder if the terrorists have actually won already. We are all getting way to cuatious and jumping at shadows.Which is no way to live.

  21. fhhuber says:

    Very simply… (just as with guns) if they regulate RC, the criminals are going to ignore the regulations. So it would do no god toward protection of anyone and would hamper those who want to enjoy the hobby.

    More than 99% of gun owners never use them in an illegal activity. And criminals seem to have no problem getting guns despite registration and other restrictions.

    The robber doesn’t care about the relatively new law making it illegal to bring a gun into the convenience store even if you have a CCW permit. All that law does is guarantees the robber won’t have to deal with an armed customer.

    When (not if…) lawmakers over-react and limit RC… the terrorists won’t care.

    • Rokcney says:

      Could not have said it better myself. It’s good to see there are some people who see what is happen to our once free homeland. Rokcney

  22. Roy A Brown says:

    Thank goodness we have the AMA to represent the hobby. What a great job they have done and are doing with regard to RC flying and security. A neighbor listened to a radio talk show that featured an AMA represenative that did a fine job of defusing the news report. The neighbor originally overreacted to the report but after listening to the radio show understood the actual situation that the model was really not a threat as the pay load would be too small.
    We are fortunate to have the AMA and are really benfiting from their work with the FAA and now Home Land Security.

  23. Ron says:

    Its just like our government to over react to something as a RC Flyer and a Aircraft Mechanic if you want to do some damage you will find away. Remmber this the government always over reacts and they are not proactive but reactive to any problem.
    the government has been for years wanting to limit our Sport for years if not decades now they have an excuse some nut job that we imported from a friendly terrorizing nation.when we stop and regroup put our heads together we will find a solution and not part of the problem.

  24. Jim Winchel says:

    Here’s my take on it: I’m sure that most of you know just how hard it is to determine your aircraft’s distance from you under GOOD conditions, let alone being psyched up and nervous. Trying to hit anything in particular with a model aircraft of ANY kind is pretty tough to start with. Even with POV flying (which would further reduce the payload capability) it’s a good bet that a specific target would NOT be hit. The terror aspect of it is the key; not knowing WHERE it’s going to explode is worrisome, not the actual amount of damage. This guy is obviously pretty naive and ignorant of the physics involved. My concern is that the media will over-react (Really???) and blow it out of proportion. Like some of the other posts have noted, why not use a car or moped or some other form of transportation that could carry MORE payload? Or a suicide backpack? The press doesn’t want citizens to worry about THAT since there’s little that can be done, but they sure can come out for blood for our “toy planes” that are so “dangerous”. Feel-good hype; make a demon out of nothing. Stand up, AMA, it’s the old shell game all over again; make smoke where there’s little fire and silly people will eat it up. This is precisely the same kind of thing that faces firearms enthusiasts; it’s NOT the airplane that kills people, it’s the PERSON behind it. Let’s keep OUR eyes open and make sure none of the people we are around are in the position to do this stupid thing. The best defense here is watchfulness; not over-reacting to fear of smoke and mirrors.

  25. Jim Deck says:

    The real problem for the hobby here is the misinformation on this situation given to the public by sensation-seeking news outlets. I watched one of Fox News ladies claim that the F86 model shown over and over again could attain speeds of over 200 mph (maybe) and carry 50 lbs of explosive (never). While any modeler knows this is absurd, John Q Citizen does not. Maybe the AMA should hire Mythbutsters to show the impossibility of schemes like this.

  26. John says:

    I would THINK that flying a “jet” rc plane would take a lot of practice & expeirence. All of us start with trainers and if we knew that someone was asking the “wrong” kind questions any of us would notice and hopefully report the individual to the proper authorities. This would be the perfect platform to get rid of RC airplanes or at least regulate them to death. Like others posted here I’m actually surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. No matter what you are involved with and what you do you are ALWAYS going to have a few “kooks” who try something totally stupid. RC planes aren’t any different. All the fliers that I knw would never do anything to endanger our hobby or other people. Some of the nicest folks I have ever met are modelers and love the hobby and our Country.

  27. Jim says:

    Is it not already “illegal” to use explosives and c-4 to cause damage to a government building or to people? So, what would make anyone think that by regulating the RC hobby and making it “illegal” to purchase or operate RC aircraft without licenses and background checks etc, that this would be any more of a deterrent to some nut case like this? Does anyone really believe that the legality of something would stop any of these sorts of things from happening?

    Surely our government officials are intelligent enoug…. hmmmm, I mean at some point common sense would have to dictate… ummmm… ok, so… I think we need to support the AMA and do all that we can to help drive home the concept that the RC hobby doesn’t need to be banned anymore than cars, trucks or for that matter feet (yes people can walk into a building with a bomb strapped to them as well… what do we ban to prevent that?).

    We live in strange times and as someone else in this thread has already said, if we over-react to everything like this then the terrorists have in effect already won by causing our freedoms to be eliminated in the name of security.

    Just my 2 cents…

  28. Gus says:

    I think we all need to trust our AMA leadership to stay engaged with the FBI, answer all their questions and provide some sanity and balance to some fo the erroneous information being reported. And, in the meantime, go fly and have fun!

  29. Roy Coniglio says:

    I am a professional designer/engineer and have been in this hobby for forty six years and if I undertook the project of creating a bomb-loaded R/C plane to use as a weapon, it would be a taunting task, to say the least. The idea that some terrorist bent on destruction could do so is almost laughable. Those of us in the hobby who answer questions from beginners all the time are aware of the ‘wrong’ questions one might ask. The idea that this guy could buy a commercially available model plane and load it with explosives just shows how little he knows about the hobby and the technology.
    As President of a flying club near New York City, I understand the PR problem this hobby has. On one hand, we try to keep a low profile. When people come to our field and tell me that they live close by and never knew we were there, I take it as a compliment. On the other hand, the public doesn’t have a clue as to what our planes are capable of, and not capable of. I would hope that within all the news hype, some news organization would actually do a story that accurately depicts our hobby.

  30. Paul Mache says:

    If you read the FBI affadavit, you soon realize that this guy is a total box-of-rocks who has no clue about anything to do with R/C aircraft or anything else for that matter. The whole “plot” was a complete pipe dream. I don’t think the guy even ever opened the plane box to see what was inside. He had no clue about a radio or how the engine works, how much room there isn’t inside an R/C jet, or how much weight the airframe/engine combo could lift. Not to say that such a thing could never happen, but not with this guy.

  31. Jeff S says:

    I don’t think a jet would be able to carry enough explosives to be of much threat. And, we could use RC planes as anti-terror weapons too–maybe Real FPV dogfights…that might be fun! Probably even a few $2,000 UAVs (specially designed RC planes) would be a lifesaver for the USA….but I don’t think stupid people using RC planes as terror weapons are a real threat….

  32. James L Barnes says:

    I am new to the RC hobby but agree with many of those who have responded that most of the RC models would have neither the range or capacity to do serious damage other than to our hobby. It is not too much of a stretch to imagine that someone with more knowledge than this nut job could build a special purpose model with the range and capacity for a one way mission. What I agree more with is that the greatest danger to our freedoms from the terrorist community is the weapon they managed to put in the White House.

  33. chrisdev01 says:

    I have been building and flying giant scale radio controlled aircraft for many years. I also have experience flying via real-time first person view (FPV).

    Building and flying R/C is way more difficult than people realize. The skills needed to be successful at it take years to perfect. Add to that the complexity of a weapon, plus the likely need for a FPV system to hit a target, and you have a very slim chance of succeeding in using an RC aircraft in the manner described.

    Based on photos of the aircraft I saw, the plane has a useful payload of about 16 ounces, tops. I don’t know anything about C4, but by the time you add all of the necessary components, I don’t think the aircraft would be capable of doing much damage.

    The sad part is, the government will likely use this non-event as an excuse to regulate, or outright ban a great hobby.

    If this was not a case of entrapment (or a false-flag), and the guy really was planning to attack us, I hope they execute him for treason.

  34. Andy Bush says:

    Way back in 1984 I spent 3 days in the Abu Dhabi police station accused of being a terrorist because I had declared a model helicopter in my air freight into the country. This obviously made me wonder how possible it would be to use models as weapons. I have been flying for a long time. So as an experiment I used the flight simulator to see if I could hit anything with either a helicopter or plane. You cannot hit a barn from anywhere further than almost right next to the thing – try it for yourself. As an example anyone who has flown has probably crashed and then discovered how hard it can be to find where the plane actually ended up, it is usually well away from where you think it should be. I have worked with military UAVs and there is no comparison in the control system between them and our models.

  35. Raul Medina says:

    if someone uses explosives in a car … you ban cars? … if someone uses explosives in a motorcycle … the will prohibit the motorcycles? … if someone uses explosives in a 747 … they will prohibit the 747? … all this things are not bad …. is what someone do with them what is wrong …. my hobby has not been, is or will be bad.

  36. Robert Kirby says:

    I think the model industry needs to start being pro active in order to head off any goverment restictions.One idea would be for model dealers to require AMA membership and number before selling to anyone.

  37. Aeromodeler says:

    The man is a terrorist wannabe. He was fed misinformation for over a year by the FBI, and provided with equipment (model airplanes and fake explosives) that were unsuitable for the task. The models couldn’t carry enough explosive to blow up a garage, and C4 is not an impact explosive, so triggering a detonation at exactly the right place would be almost impossible.

    The downside is that of public perception. Fortunately, most media outlets have broadcast that the models provided were unusable for terrorist attacks and that the equipment needed to carry out such an attack would cost millions, rather than a few thousand.

  38. Rich says:

    According a newspaper article he had already bought a F-86 model for $6,000. That would most likely be a turbine powered 60′ish inch span fiberglass model. It would be crammed with the engine, fuel, batteries, radio gear to even fly, let alone room for explosives. It would have a take-off run longer than a full scale super cub and would have needed a paved street for a runway. Not easy to fly a jet off Potomac Ave. without someone noticing. The plane would be fast, tricky to fly when loaded with extra weight. The guy had no R/C flying experience, far as we know, and his chances of success are around zero. I don’t think he had a clue about putting this into practice but liked the looks of the RC saber and hatched his vast plan based on half-vast ideas. Those of us who fly RC are the only ones likely to be injured as the media has jumped all over this without any understanding of how improbable and impractical the scheme was.. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and RC activities will continue with little repercussion.

  39. withheld says:

    I think that this is a case of entrapment, and that the suspect does not know how to build or fly. I think that the whole idea of using a flying model for terrorizm was planted by the FBI, and models were chosen so that the public would allow more controlling legislation of model aviation.

  40. dale kobetich says:

    i smell registration for all rc gear with id and thumb print coming ..no transmimitters over 50milliwats..illegal to fly fpv..give it some time ….

  41. Don Lowe says:

    I was in the Uav business for years, developing craft to hit and kill targets on the ground. At best this guys chances of hitting a particular target on the groud and destroying it were slim to none. He would need skills certainly in excess of his. Choosing the right craft, flying it,equipping it properly is a job for very ekilled engieers. The most basic problem is to provide a flight stabilization system, a midcourse guidance system and A TERMINAL guidance system which is high technology. . At best he might create some local hysteria when it hits a random target on the ground which would be it’s only chance considering its lack of that key ingredient–terminal guidance.

  42. Paul Stakun says:

    I can’t believe some of the comments, like it’s easy to get explosives. Sure, I’ll go down to the local Wal-Mart and get a couple of pounds. The range and payload of our models are so limited that making a terrorist attack would be next to useless. The only real damage would be the publicity from the ever biased press to make us look bad. Then, the ever ignorant legislators would respond to their ignorant contitiuents to put draconian regulations on us to keep us in line. Our relationship with the FAA is not going to be good for us.

  43. Terry says:

    If this contributes to a ban on owning or operating any specific size or form of model aircraft, then cars, trucks and full sized aircraft should also be banned as they have already been successfully used in such attacks worldwide. Sadly, we live in a time when any and all technology is being used in attempts to destroy our nation and way of life.

  44. james wood says:

    It has always been possible to use RC as a weapon and it is used by our military. I am not so sure about this story though. They found themselves a wack job, encouraged him, financed him, and watched him. Kind of seems to me that our Government started, aided, and abetted the crime.

  45. Roger Anderson says:

    Under the guise of ‘Homeland Security’ the FBI located someone who is displeased with our government, wound him up over a period of time, suggested and provided a model and a bit of C-4. Thus ‘WE’ have a problem. For me, the criminal intention seems to be the fraud committed by a government agency. MEANS and intention are necessary elements of any crime….and when our own government provides someone with the means that would have been otherwise unavailable, somehow that seems to me as an element of the crime of malfeasance. The other two elements of a crime being motive and intention…which in this case are not at all difficult to winkle out. -

    Veteran ’66-68 (And experienced with a lifetime of Governmental lies)

  46. RC parts says:

    Last time I looked more people have died from smoking, car accidents, guns, Cancer and over eating than RC planes

    Can we stop being treated like terrorist, I am a normal person who enjoys flying RC planes. I have not broken the law ( parking ticket) in several years. I have never been arrested, charged with drunk driving , or even own a gun. I don’t go to protest or own a tin foil hat

    What next they want to ban hot air so you can use it in a ballon

    Payload and range it is time someone pointed out RC planes don’t fly far or carry much payload. A person could do more damage with a baseball bat , better ban them next

  47. RC parts says:

    How about everyone get off their butts and vote next election.
    Last time I looked it isn’t illegal and the change woulf do us good

  48. RC parts says:

    Well I am going out and fly my home made foam RC plane, total payload after what it takes to get it in the air 50 grams. I hope it isn’t to windy and the winds stay under 15 KMH so I can fly it.

  49. RC parts says:

    Can you please stop treating me like a terrorist?
    I have not been arrested, don’t break the law, don’t go to protests, or own a tin foil hat, I don’t own a gun. I pay my taxes, go to work and people in general like me.

  50. Dan Arnold says:

    None of the reports I read said anything about this guys’ ability to fly an RC airplane. He intended to to outfit his aircraft with some sort of GPS navigation system, then he selected perhaps the worst RC planes available in terms of payload lifting capacity. Last but not least, C-4 won’t go off without a detonator. No telling if he figured out how to make any of the above really work. I read that he planned to launch three planes, (I assume from Capitol Mall), then run into the Capitol Building with guns and grenades. It is beyond me how he ever expected to get his car unpacked and launch before being hauled away by the cops. The whole plot sounds like a half baked fantasy.

  51. Ross Schmitt says:

    Oh come on! Let’s be realistic OK? It would take more “NUTZ” to pull that off than this Dumbass has! I have been flying R/C for over 30 years, and I have several very large planes in my “Hangar”. It would be very difficult to say the least to organize a real strike on anything with an R/C Plane. Even with the larger equipment available today!!!
    Just my thoughts though!

  52. Skysfallin says:

    As many have already said, I’m suprised some idiot as not already tried this. However I see it coming, our knee jerk reactionary govt. will have us paying lisencing fees, taking proficiency tests, finger printing and the like all in the name of public safety, and really acomplising nothing except putting a strangle hold on our beloved hobby and collecting the fees. I hope I don’t sound cynical but I am. Hats off to the FBI for uncovering this clown

  53. hasbeen says:

    the potential for rc airplanes to be used as weapons is tremendous and i am really surprised they haven’t been used as such already.
    it is quite obvious the government has, realized the potential of rc air craft as weapons when you consider the pending FCC regulations directed at rc flyer’s.. as usual, though, any new FCC regulations will only affect those who already follow the rules not the criminals.
    as rc flyer’s we need to police our own ranks and report any “unusual” activities by “others” to the police or fbi or who ever.
    maybe one day the law makers will wake up to the fact that criminals don’t give a rats butt about the laws they make. criminals by definition do not obey the law.

  54. Greg McCullough says:

    It almost looks like an attempt by the government to set a prescedent in cases like this in an attempt to limit more of our freedoms. The plan was obviously half baked and not feasible. We have all seen R/C models designed to lift weight, and they are NOT jets, they have huge, hi-lift wings, and are still not capable of doing the damage this fruit-cake espoused. We need to keep in touch with our AMA and do what they recommend to fight such incursions in our lives.

  55. Frank Gracy says:

    The R/C Aircraft is not big enough to carry what’s needed. It’ll take a 33% at least and fly as slow as a bird. If it’s flies slow as a bird the radar can’t see it and has to be big to carry the payload. Now, if a bearded guy wants to put wings on a Camel–that’s a different story.

  56. Bob says:

    The story did not pass the smell test. We all know that plane would not make a dent on any building. Pure fiction I am afraid.

  57. Gus Diaz says:

    Again, the bottom line is this: Just as guns don’t kill people, MODEL AIRPLANES DON”T KILL PEOPLE. I would hope our Intelligence Community is focusing all their skills and assets into identifying, tracking and neutralizing the terrorist / criminal minds amongst us, rather than limiting our liberties in the name of “security”. When we do the latter, the crazy fruitcakes win…and “they” know it!

  58. Lonnie says:

    Given that and RC Jet can only fly for about 7 mins on a load of fuel and can’t carry much the treat is petty lame. The impact on the RC flying folks would be devastating. Lock that clown up and trow away the key.

  59. Jose Alvarez says:

    Lets just hope that for one Idiot sicko idea, All of us won’t have to pay for it. As is normally done whit these regulations that are designed for one idiot but affects lots of inocent people.

  60. John Court says:

    One thing that everyone should know is that this clown had bad intentions, true……. but he didn’t have the brains that God gave a fishing worm, and the idea for the R/C Aircraft as a delivery system was supplied by the FBI guys who were leading him into entrapment (all their idea about the planes, he just went along for the ride). How convenient is that, at a time when our hobby is under scrutinization for some new and heavy-handed regulations. Something like this just sends the wrong message to the public about the R/C community.

  61. Bill rendall says:

    please people i respect that everyone deserves asay but Im worried that by opening this topic and by keeping the thread open that we invite scrutiny from authorities that will only cuase more issues than its worth.

    I have seen the hysteria caused by a single article about a person who shot a bird with a Bow and arrow in a local newspaper. next minute it was nation wide with the scare lobby insisting on banning Bows, It took a huge effort by the Bow Hunters to quel that.

    let sleeping dogs lay

  62. Rick R says:

    OK, here’s the thing: Cars HAVE BEEN used as terror weapons. No one talks about banning them.

    Trucks HAVE BEEN

  63. Rick R says:

    OK, here’s the thing: Cars HAVE BEEN used as terror weapons. No one talks about banning them.

    Trucks HAVE BEEN used as terror weapons. No one talks about banning them.

    Airplanes HAVE BEEN used as terror weapons. No one talks about banning them.

    Underpants HAVE BEEN used as terror weapons. No one talks about banning them.

    See where I am going with this? Guns, knives, baseball bats, rocks, wet towels ALL have been or could be used as terror weapons. Obviously we need to ban all of existence.

    ‘Nuff said!

  64. Richard Ranney says:

    Yes, model planes… very dangerous! But why not, they use real boats with explosives. Oh my, and cars and trucks too! And then there are burkahs, and trubans, and of course those terrible underwear and shoes. Possibly they should all be banned for our general safety!

    My goodness, now I remember, paper envelopes are also used for terrible purposes. What must we do? Well now, there is one more reason for getting rid of the postal service!

  65. Anonymous says:

    I am an Airbus A320 pilot for United Airlines. I was airborne in a 737 when 9/11 happened. I am also a park flyer.

    Never mind the stupidity of using a ducted fan to carry explosives. Just remember how Washington D.C. acted when a stray Cessna 152 penetrated the prohibited area. They evacuated buildings and people were panicking in the streets. Did they forget the teen who sympathized with the 9/11 hijackers and flew his rented Cessna into a Florida building? What happened? Boing! The airplane stuck to the building like a dart, with minimal damage. Even if he had filled it with C4, it would have done minimal damage. The previous posts are correct: you can do a lot more with a rental truck.

    The problem is that logic and common sense fly out of the room over these things. I see it every day as I pass through TSA security. They are scanning me for a knife or gun, just before I strap on a weapon of mass destruction. I think AMA should be proactive on this, because reactions can be ridiculous.

  66. Dwight Hirschinger says:

    Pres. Esienhower, a very wise man was clear and frankly blunt when during his departure speech he said, (and I am paraphrasing this) that we now live in an extremly dangerous world. However,any attempt to ensure total safety to the population will involve the loss of basic freedoms and liberties we so cherish.
    Many measures we now endure are nessesary. But there has to be a limit to the extent the Government interfers with our basic freedoms because there might be on some loss of life by a determined fanatic. If we alter our liberties to ensure somethig like that does not happen then we have given the terrorists just what they want. A culture of fear to which there will be no end.

  67. RCaston says:

    What seems overlooked is that we fly line of sight. We HAVE to see the airplane and guide it with our eyes. Not only that but just where, in downtown DC is one going to be able to launch an F-4 model loaded with explosives and then visually fly it to the target? Even with these common sense questions answered that would clearly show the plan was highly flawed and highly unlikely to be successfully executed, I am sure the so-called government experts at FAA, who seem to think they know everything about anything that flies, will use this an excuse to further encroach on a hobby that has been around for generations and is safer today than it ever has been. Tell em to get lost and leave us the heck alone. The joke for some of us in the airline business is that those who can’t fly go to work for the FAA. I guess we will have to include those that can’t fly RC go to work for the FAA as well. :-)

  68. Bill G. says:

    A few observations:

    1. No commercially available model aircraft except possibly some kind of giant R/C aircraft could carry enough explosive to cause a significant amount of damage. A purpose-built aircraft would be required. A person with considerable skill would be required to design and build the aircraft, and would likely to be known in the R/C community. I believe aircraft this big and heavy already require some special licensing requirements.

    2. An aircraft requiring Line-Of-Sight control would not be suitable because it would have to be launched near the target, and it’s unlikely that the assembly and launch of an aircraft this big would go unnoticed, probably by the police if near any high-profile target as the Capitol or nearby buildings. In addition, a fair-to-high amount of pilot skill would be required to fly the aircraft depending on the type of aircraft and its method of power. It is unlikely that a person could develop this level of skill without participating in a R/C club and getting some training there.

    3. A First-Person View control system might be possible but the radio transmission distances (perhaps 10 – 15 miles) would be prohibitive and would require either illegal R/C modeling equipment modified to increase its range or commercially-available equipment that already requires a license.

    4. This leaves the last possibility, which is a pre-programmed UAV (essentially a cruise missile) aimed to strike a particular target. The basic elements required are already available, such as miniaturized GPS units, tiny electronic gyroscopes used for tail stabilization of helicopters, and miniature altimeters. With a lot of work and a very small dedicated-purpose microprocessor these elements could be combined to create the control system for the UAV. I do not believe a single individual could successfully develop a device like this. The development would require a team of at least four people in different specialties spending most of their time for at least two years and the development cost would be north of $200,000. A suitable secluded test area would be needed and there would likely be a number of crashes. Even in a secluded area I doubt this level of activity would go unnoticed.

    My point is that instead of the FBI, FAA and other government agencies trying to entrap single, stupid, uneducated people like the man currently in custody, the agents in these organizations should be given some training describing the complexity of the effort to develop a weapon like this and the specialties of the team of people that would be required to do it successfully.

  69. Rob Ritter says:

    It is sad to think that a terrorist would stoop so low as to use a model plane to carry explosives but if it was’t a model plane it would be something else. I have been in this hobby for almost twenty years and would hate to see it taken away because of some idiot. They have tried to use shoes, underwear, now model planes. What next?

  70. Nehru Taraporewala says:

    These terrorist can think of anything to damage the property and inflict injury to the innocent people. This wonderful hobby should not be under the scanner.

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