It is the pilot's responsibility to ensure that the heli is at a safe distance. That's where the pilot's judgment comes in, basing the safe distance on the size of the heli and what the pilot is doing with the heli. Using a spotter will aid in alerting the pilot to anyone entering the "danger zone" around the heli. Also, the size of the heli is to be taken into consideration. Would I fly my Raptor 50 at a park? Heck no, it's way too big to fly there safely. I take it out to the flying field for that. A 450, while still not a toy, is of a more ideal size to fly at a park. If someone is 50-100 yards away from you, and all you're doing is hovering or some short patterns, that person is in no danger unless they start running up on the heli. That judgment should also be used to determine whether or not there are too many people there.
A quote regarding park flyers from AMA’s park flyer website:
” The AMA currently defines a park flyer as a model weighing less than 2 pounds that is incapable of reaching speeds of faster than 60 mph. It must use electric power for propulsion, be remotely controlled or flown with a control line, and remain within the pilot’s line of sight at all times.”
A 450 falls under this description of a park flyer. A 500 is about 1 pound too heavy to fit that definition.
Yes, I am an AMA member as well as a member of an AMA chartered flying club. I prefer to fly there when I can. However, it takes me 45 minutes to get to the closest flying fields. There are no other designated flying sites that I'm aware of. The only times I can get to the field are on the weekends. A park is a place where you can get a few flights on a smaller heli during the week, pending an open enough area to fly in. Not everyone lives 5 minutes from a flying field, nor has their own flying field.
At many clubs across the country, airplanes are the majority, helis are the minority. All of the chartered fields here are like that, having maybe 2-3 heli pilots and dozens of airplane pilots. At these fields, a 450 does not mix well with the traffic, and you MUST fly the pattern (aerobatics/3D can only be done on the downwind side of the field, away from the runway) unless hovering at the end of the pits because there’s no set area for flying a heli. If you choose to do more, you must coordinate with the other pilots there for solo air time (no fixed wing in the air). Flying a heli with a 2 foot rotor span where airplanes with a 5+ foot wingspan fly doesn’t mix too well, and can easily get run over and piss off a lot of airplane pilots. It’s like flying a Robinson R22 into Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport.
All I’m trying to say is that a 450 CAN be safely flown at a park, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, the pilot MUST use his/her better judgment as to when it’s safe to fly at the park chosen (Is there a lot of people there? How far are the people from my intended flying spot? Do I have a spotter?), and whether or not the model is suitable for the park (Is the chosen site big enough for a 450, or is a 250 a better choice for that particular site?). While considering all of this, consider that, even though a 450 is considered a park flyer, it can still injure or even kill (given the proper combination of unfavorable circumstances) when discretion is not used as to when and how it is flown at the park.
Stop Playing Lawn Darts!!! AMA #909181