Rocket-firing helicopter

Rocket-firing helicopter

This is interesting. A reader from Brazil sent us this video of a Thunder Tiger Raptor 50 that he and his father equipped with a rocket launch. Should there be a law against this, or not? The live action starts about 1:24 into the video.

[Editor’s note: thank you to everyone who took the time to leave comments. As many of you have pointed out, this would not be allowed at any AMA sanctioned club field, and it would also violate the NFPA fire saftey code that is adopted by most U.S. fire departments. We re-posted this YouTube video to encourage public discussion,  and we strongly discourage anyone from attempting this type of RC stunt.]


Updated: March 19, 2012 — 10:09 AM


  1. Whatever. Law? Huh? For one it’s Brazil and for another we don’t need a law for everything that could ever happen anywhere at any time. I saw the same thing here in the U.S. with a bigger RC mustang firing bottle rockets. Heck, I thought it was cool but I’m sure someone will get their “underwear” in a wad over it thinking it will bring the end of the world. 🙁

    1. Sorry Russ, but things like this do get my shorts in a twist. It’s these kinds of dumb stunts that will hurt our hobby.
      And to those that say it’s against the AMA Safety Code, you are correct. However, not everyone who flys RC models are members of the AMA. It’s up to all of use to do what we can to protect our hobby which we all enjoy.

    2. Not the end of our world, the heavy laws that may follow because of poor judgement and the thinking that it’s “So cool”

  2. Greetings,

    I see that the video was from 2008, however that doesn’t change the debate about ‘Launched Projectiles” from RC aircraft. Recently we were very fortunate that the Federal Government agreed to continue to let us fly pretty much unhindered. If we “Arm” our aircraft with luanchable systems that could potential be misconstrued as a weapon system I believe that the government will revisit our ability to fly and significantly curtail it. Currently AMA FORBIDS launching an unguided device such as a rocket, except with special permission and special needs/event. While the video was obviously from a different country and they may not have the same laws, the perception is that “hey those geeks with the airplanes can now spy and shoot at us”. This is something we don’t need. I won’t mention beyond this comment, THOSE ROCKETS HAD WAR HEADS, THEY EXPLODED!!! NOT SMART AT ALL!!!! While you may think that was cool, it was really really dumb. That one fact could end you up in jail for at the very least Fireworks/explosives violations. So, while the trill of launching stuff still seems cool we haven’t gotten any better at figuring out how to do it since the Jame Bond movie back in the 60’s. That’s my 2 cents.

    1. Hi Troy Schwable,

      The video was filmed in December, 2011 (by myself) . However the date that appears in the video was incorrect due to the unsetting of the onboard camera clock .
      Here in Brazil, we aren’t subjected to AMA’s rules. We’re a peacefull country without worries about terrorism and things like that, so, in a short frase. HERE WE CAN. If you’re not allowed to do this, just don’t do it… but enjoy watching!!

      The best of my regards,

  3. This is not allowed under the AMA Safety Code:

    Not operate model aircraft carrying pyrotechnic devices which explode or burn, or any device which propels a projectile or drops any object that
    creates a hazard to persons or property.
     Free Flight fuses or devices that burn producing smoke and are securely attached to the model aircraft during flight.
     Rocket motors (using solid propellant) up to a G-series size may be used provided they remain attached to the model during flight. Model rockets
    may be flown in accordance with the National Model Rocketry Safety Code but may not be launched from model aircraft.
     Officially designated AMA Air Show Teams (AST) are authorized to use devices and practices as defined within the Team AMA Program
    Document (AMA Document #718)

  4. Pretty sure the AMA Safety Code says something about this type of thing.

  5. Johann Potgieter,
    I am a model pilot , a AMA , IMAA member and this type of action causes all the problems that we experiance with FAA and Fedural Regulations in the USA, This vidoe just proved what the posibllities are and should not even be adverticed on a model web site.

  6. Really nice rockets!

  7. Who should be worried about little unguided black powder rockets with a few seconds flight time when the thing that’s actually carrying them is a precision remote controlled unmanned aerial vehicle weighing several pounds more than the rockets, capable of inflicting critical inertial damage via the blades or the main frame?

    Entry author ‘called it in’ on this video. Is next week going to be “Nitro-Methanol fuel, a dangerous flammable substance, should it be legal?”

  8. Totally agree Russ – we don’t need to think up anything and everything that can possibly be and write a law against it. Until it becomes an issue, leave it be. There are 140k members and we have the cleanest safety record of almost any organization out there. Leave us alone and let us govern ourselves.

    1. There’s already an AMA rule about not launching rockets from RC aircraft.

       Rocket motors (using solid propellant) up to a G-series size may be used provided they remain attached to the model during flight. Model rockets
      may be flown in accordance with the National Model Rocketry Safety Code but may not be launched from model aircraft.

      Of course that’s in the U.S. not Brazil.

  9. While I would enjoy watching this at demonstation. I must admit that in the world we live in I don’t want to give anyone the wrong ideas. We already had one fool this past year try to load R/C models with explosives. At least those who are really into the R/C modelling spirit can see that this is wrong . But I don’t feel another law is neccary, those of us who follow the AMA rules would not engage in such foolharty activity.

  10. I do not disagree with either of you guys but given all the problems we have been having with the FAA is it a good idea to advertize this kinds of “developments”?

    Perception is the problem. The fun things some of our fellow hobby enthusiasts come up with are great for us that understand their use and limits. The rest of the world looks at them as “weapons of mass destruction”… Let’s keep them to ourselves and not tell the world about them.

    1. Vicar, totally agree…

      Hey, Model Airplane News,

      This video has been on the web for some time and it has not been hidden. We all know the NONO factor of it.

      Next time and in the future. Why not just keep it to the good stuff. There is so much of it.

      All you did was bring attention where NONE was needed.

  11. “There are 140k members and we have the cleanest safety record of almost any organization out there.”

    So true… Because MOST understand the RULES and limitations. All it takes is one bad apple. Then EVERYONE has to walk around with their underwear in a wad.

    First…. VERY COOL!

    Second… You have rockets on your R/C aircraft. Nothing new there. But, your rockets also explode?
    THAT is a very big red flag! ESPECIALLY here in the states.

    Now you are dabbling in a highly regulated hobby/industry called PYROTECHNICS.
    Having NOTHING to do with the R/C hobby.

    Do what you want in Brazil. Some countries have BIG restrictions when it comes to R/C flight. So far the US is pretty easy.
    BECAUSE of the well disciplined AMA leaders and members. THAT is why government (so far) stays out of regulating our hobby. For the most part.

    I give it a THUMBS UP for WOW factor.

    I give it a THUMBS DOWN for poor judgement.

    The R/C hobby is having enough negative attention with FPV issues.

  12. If I didnt know better (which I dont) I’d think MAN is purposely digging up these old vidfeos asking about “Laws” just to stir it up.

    Really MAN? You only can show videos that are a direct violation of the AMA safety code? FPV flying over pepole, rockets? Whats next?

    Why cant you show videos of APPROVED activities??

    1. We do, look at almost every other post on this website. 🙂

  13. Hi everybody, this is Vinicius from Brazil. Thats my helicopter on this video. All of you guys are right when you say that this is against AMA rules, but here is BRAZIL, so AMA do not control the rules here. In Brazil, COBRA (Brazilian confederation of air models) dont have an especific law for this kind of activity. By the way. Nevertheless, we made this experiment safely, in a place far from the city designed only for air modelling purposes.

    Thanks for the compliments and good flight for everyone!

  14. While the video was cool, I don’t think this is safe or smart at all (even while disregarding the AMA rules). If you watch in the video, you can see that they are doing this near developed housing and a busy road! This is not just putting modellers in danger but also the general population. If there was any defect in those rockets or if the electronic fuse went off at the wrong time there could be property damage or worse. While I’m wary to support a video like this at all, ATLEAST do it on private property where you’re farfarfar away from civilization.

    On a separate note, while I can only have hearsay on the pilot, he looks like a relatively inexperienced, young, shirtless pilot. Really? I’m only 19 and would never think about being so irresponsible as this.

    1. Justin, thanks for your concern but that road is 1,5 Kilometers far, and the developed housing 1 Kilometer, so the rocket would never get there, because its range is 300 meters. The electronic system has 2 on-off switch for safety so the rocket dont explode on the ground. And as you said THAT IS MY PRIVATE PROPERTY and it has 300 thousand meters sqare, so there is no houses around, its waaay far from civilization. Yes that shirtless pilot is me, and I fly an T-Rex 700 F3C for more than 4 years and I’m authorized for COBRA (Brazilian confederation of air models) to fly and teach how to fly helicopters and airplanes, and I’m 21 years old, so if you think you cant do this, never try.


  15. That’s “very cool” in Portuguese.

  16. Warheads???? they were fireworks. Looks like a great time to me, but alas , we cant do that here, at least not in the view of the “got their panties in a bunch ” crowd.

  17. I put falt on the modellers but also on MAN for publishing this video. Given their position in our hobby they should have a more stringent editorial policy and refrain from these highly prejudical items.

    If our hobby goes down the drain due to regulation, magazines like MAN will follow.

  18. Yah, definitely cool. Law? no way. But agree with many posters, not smart.

  19. Origin of the AMA prohibition vs pyrotechnics launched/dropped from models:

    Someone in scale Control Line competition launched model rockets from his plane straight into the spectators.

    Someone goofing around launching model rockets from an RC model launched into dry brush and started a forest fire.

    The insurance carrier demanded the prohibition due to the size of the insurance claims.

    Most of AMA’s Safety Code rules can be traced back to someone doing something and causing injury or property damage.

  20. I know some people think this is cool and acceptable, but is it really worth risking this great hobby for everyone to do something like this? Even if the possibility of someone getting hurt by launching projectiles is extremely small, if you do it enough times, then that highly improbable thing will happen.

    Are AMA rules against things like this necessary? Some people say no. A lot of those people are the same people who think about the worst thing that could possibly happen from their actions, however improbable, weigh the risks to themselves and other, and make their decisions accordingly. However, there are people who don’t think that way (you all know there are), and those are the people the AMA rules are in place for.

  21. Being in the air force auxillary I always look for were problems can occure then notify the proper authority, literally the last report I filed was exactly this! Rockets with a pay load (wether launched from aircraft or the ground) pose the biggest threat to the united states, esp. in washington. im all for exprimentation, engineering and such with this but I do believe strict regulations from luanching any exploading platform from an airborn platform needs to be monitered. It is in my opinion the next attack on America, ie the white house will be by this method so that is my arguement. just be safee and dont be stupid is all I can really say.

  22. AMA is just a guideline. AMA don’t have squat control outside the US. Or even in the US for non AMA members. We were doing this stuff back in the 90’s. It was fun back then too.

    1. So was blowing up frogs. But, we grew up.

      1. That analogy doesn’t even make sense. You might want to seek some professional help.

        1. “We were doing this stuff back in the 90′s. It was fun back then too.”

          Let me help you… Grow up.

          If you can’t understand what responsibility ALL of us AMA members carry, when we go to the field.

          Then don’t be a part of the hobby.

  23. I have not read this entire thread, but Model Airplane News (editors) should know what is not legal in US and not suggest that doing this is legal by asking “should there be a law against this”. I think the MAN online editor … needs an editor to stop broadcasting these stupid things.

    Some wrote above “If our hobby goes down the drain due to regulation, magazines like MAN will follow.” Well, MAN has already gone down the drain when they turned into just one big ad magazine.

  24. After viewing this, I think back to just last year when we, the model aviators we just a Hillbilly Heart Beat a way for gross FAA regulations. I feel this video and article should never have been brought forth by Model Airplane News. This article will most assuredly spark interest for others to mimic, and will assure closer monitoring by Government regulators. AMA rules for safe flying exist for the benefit of all modelers. This article’s publishing was reckless at best. And all publication should think twice before publishing another.

  25. Cool, but it’s not what we think, it’s what the FAA will think! AMA should continue to disallow it!

  26. In all due respect I think this would be fun to try but as many have said before, this is not allowed by the AMA in the US. When I saw this I thought, “What could of happened if one were to accidentally malfunction, wether I the pilot’s hands or in the air?” He could potentially be out of a very expensive model or worse, suffer from an injury.

  27. I remember reading a couple how-to’s back in the old American modeler, including at least one 2 or 3 page article. There was no objection at the time (late 60’s, early 70’s) unitll suddenly there were personal injuries and property damage. I seem to recall several people being injured during a demo at a baseball stadium.
    Cool, yes, but then, cool isn’t necessarily smart or worth doing.
    Too much publicity about injuries or property damage from this could potentially cause Congress to revoke the new legislation exempting us from FAA control. I mean, just see the press (School kids injured or killed at a local park by rocket firing model airplane!

  28. Como Vai, Vinicius.
    I was glad to hear that you did this on your own private property with the nearest housing a considerable distance from the rocket fire. I’ve seen posts on other sites from people who tried, or wanted to try this, but without apparently caring about intelligent safety. In fact, I was once looking into doing this myself, until the stadium accident I made reference to in my previous post.
    Obrigado pra Video.

    1. Como vai Tony!

      Yes! thats the point, we just want to have fun but we must never forget about the secure of ourselves and the civilization. Before making this experience, I saw a lot of people that fired these rockets in parks even close to some houses. That housing you see in the video is mine too, and is far enough that the rocket cant reach there. We just made this experiment with one condition: that no one ran the risk of getting hurt. What I want people to know is that we NEVER did such thing close to a house or a road, we thought about it. Security first!

  29. I’ll bet somebody wanted to outlaw RC Helicopters when they first saw them, too dangerous, oh my.

  30. Ill’ bet someone wanted to outlaw RC Helicopters when they first saw them, too dangerous, oh my!

  31. U wish u coulda should keep ur tweets to ur selfs ur all just jealuis that u can’t do it in ur hood so don’t join the AMA DASS.

  32. From an engineering standpoint, I like the video as mentioned is very cool. From an AMA member standpoint, I think the video can create problems and dissention which is apparent even within this topic. From a legal standpoint, I don’t know the law in Brazil. I don’t find it necessary to take sides.
    Thanks for the video

  33. I agree that it is very cool but also very dangerous. All you need is for one of them to land in a dry forest and “POOF” And, here in the US, we have any number of people who would panic and say “THAT SHOULD BE AGAINST THE LAW” and before you know it, it would be along with all the associated regulations we would have passed against model planes. Don’t even go there.

  34. Keep your rocket launching Heli in Brazil . We would be better off not knowing. Simple minds are easily led down the wrong path. Shame on you MAN.

  35. Awesome to watch and amazed at the genius design.

    From a common sense safety perspective it should be against the law. Only a matter of time before some cowboy puts one up there and accidentally releases on the club/spectators. Not a good mix. UAVs we are not…

  36. i think is just irresponsable careless and reckless behavior of a bunch of late adolescents, the way they look to be having fun makes then look very primitive. i hope most of us dont need regulations to see that that is just not acceptable. is just simple plain common sense, not debate is needed.

  37. In my opinion this type of modification should be banned. The dangers where anything can go wrong is too great. And this type of modification, i feel, will make things worse for the hobby flyer all around. It only takes a few bad apples to spoil the sport. Until we have a deterent or propper regulations for flyers like these, it should be banned. A good offense is a better defense. My opinion. thank you.

  38. I know it’s illegal here in the US, but I wish to thank the guys in Brazil for performing the experiement in such a professional way. It was cool to see, but it was also a lot of work, and I’m not going to strap on rockets on my airplane anytime soon. I just want to fly within our rules. But I still appreciate what the guys in Brazil did and enjoyed watching.

    1. Thanks a lot Greg!

      You are a person that recognizes our effort to make this experiment safely. Thats the spirit, our hobby is so cool that we can do such thing with them to have fun, but we MUST always take care and to these things thinking about the risks.

      Thank you!

  39. Just the sort of thing we DON’T need. Stupid and foolish. I recall an old R/C club member who was always ticked when people refered to model planes as toys and not ‘real’ planes. I say stick to calling them toys and bring in LESS attention by the FAA and any other regulatory body. The world has drastically changed since 9/11 and if you can put a toy rocket on a toy plane, some rag head ass can put some C4 on on it too. This was a stupid thing to do.

    1. Gunner you’re an idiot

  40. I worked two years to get an electric flying field with an AMA charter. At the town council hearing a full size pilot said that we could shoot rockets at their airplanes and we shouldn’t be allowed to fly. Now we see a publication flaunt this practice when we are in a fight against regulations by the US government. We prevailed and got our field, but if that guy saw this video he’d be saying I told you so! Thanks MAN,,,good clear thinking on your part!

  41. So, we can’t have the freedom to give our opinion here without someone like ‘S’ start into the name calling?

  42. There are a lot of people here that seem to think the public would find this surprising. I believe they already know the ability exists. The military has been using it for some time now(UAV launched rockets). Just like they also know we can drop payloads from R/C aircraft. I believe the publishers did a good job in pointing out that this took place in a different country, and that our hobby, at least here in the U.S., is regulated to a much greater extent by the AMA. It may not have been the “brightest” thing to do, but, people are continually trying all kinds of new thing in the hobby. Some guys drop dummy tanks, paratroopers, or candy from airplanes. Others have R/C Battleships that fire projectiles. Just cause they do it, doesn’t mean we all do. And it doesn’t mean any of us are plotting to take over the world.

    1. At least, (hope not the last), a comment coming from an open-minded RC guy.
      Thanks in advance.

  43. AMA rules destincly prohibit rockets, etc, fired from aircraft. They can do what they want in Brazil I guess.

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