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Head Of Pilots Group Concerned Toy Drone Flyers Don't Know Rules

Nevit Dilmen
File photo of a DJI Phantom 1 quadcopter in flight

New data from the FAA shows the frequency of close calls between manned aircraft and small drones is soaring.

Pilots or air traffic controllers logged ten disconcerting incidents in Northwest skies since April. And the head of a pilots group says "near misses" are bound to increase as hobby drones gain in popularity.

Federal guidelines tell hobbyists to keep their model aircraft within line of sight, fly no higher than 400 feet and stay away from airports and manned aircraft. The president of the Oregon Pilots Association, Mary Rosenblum, observes those rules "are not real well known by the general public."

"Where I think you're seeing problems is the person who goes to the hobby store, buys one of these and has no idea that there are any rules associated with them at all and gets out and sends it up into the air,” she said.

Two summers ago, Rosenblum was climbing out of Troutdale Airport near Portland in a small plane when a rogue "flying wing" type drone passed within a foot of her wingtip.

In a new development, the Oregon Department of Aviation just delivered a report on drone regulation to the state legislature. It recommends against registering private drones and assigning a license number for accountability until federal oversight becomes clearer.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.