Rogue squadron

A resident with one of the model planes. Picture: Bruce Hunt d414619
A resident with one of the model planes. Picture: Bruce Hunt d414619

The group’s leader, who did not want to be named, said flying model aircraft was like a ‘men’s shed’ activity for them. They flew aircraft responsibly away from any direct flight paths and helped reduce criminal and anti-social activity and littering on the island.

The informal group has been flying for five or six years and dubbed the island ‘Ascot RC Airport’.

Establishing a club had proved a ‘headcase’ for the flyers and they did not want to join an existing club.

The island lies within 1.9 nautical miles of Perth Airport.

A Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman said permission was required to fly within three nautical miles of an aerodrome.

‘However, there is a requirement that the operation is permitted by the land owner (in this case the WA Planning Commission),’ he said.

‘The WAPC can prohibit model aircraft from flying in this location using any legislation that governs land use of Black Swan Island.’

WAPC chairman Eric Lumsden confirmed the WAPC had granted permission for the group to fly on the island, but this permission was retracted last May at the City of Belmont’s request.

‘Since being installed mid-last year, several signs banning model aircraft flying on Black Swan Island have been defaced and subsequently replaced twice,’ he said.

‘Model aircraft flying on the island was accepted until the City of Belmont raised noise and public safety concerns with the WAPC.

‘Prohibition came into effect once the signs were installed.’

The model aircraft group’s representative said he was supportive of a program put forward by peak body Aeromodellers WA that would define small aircraft as ‘park flyers’ trialled in designated parks in the City of Melville ” and hopefully to be tested other local governments in Perth in the future.

‘Most of the guys are coming down to fly small planes; they don’t have petrol or jet-powered planes now and there are fewer helicopters,’ he said.

City of Melville chief executive officer Shayne Silcox said the city was looking at locations where it could permit remote-controlled devices, including model aircraft, boats and cars.

What the City says

The City of Belmont has said it is not likely to
approve the flying of model aircraft in the area
in the near future because it had received
ongoing complaints about:
– Noise disturbance
– Near misses
– Inappropriate hours of operation
– A general lack of good behaviour
‘People using the park were concerned with the
relative nearness of the planes to them, the risk
of injuring a person and causing problems for
native wildlife,’ a City spokeswoman said.