AMA Thanks Its Lifetime Supporters
The Academy recently welcomed Life Members Jim C. Pope, Euless TX; Herbert Garrett Sr., Baltimore MD; Chi Y. Chan, Atlanta GA; Damien A. Seese, Bismarck ND; Michael W. Brown, Hays KS; Duke T. Schneider Sr., Somerset TX; Jason A. Story, Austin TX; Michael C. Baldwin, Tucson AZ; C. Christopher Powers, Ankeny IA; and Denville A. Pieters, Oswego IL.
For information about becoming a Life Member, contact AMA Headquarters at (800) 435-9262.
—AMA Membership Department
Is 72 MHz Dead?
If you are fairly new to the RC modeling scene, you might not have any idea what a 72 MHz RC system is. More experienced modelers will know exactly what they are and probably owned several.
The 72 MHz digital proportional RC systems have been around since the 1960s. Evolution of this equipment provided us with first Amplitude Modulation (AM) sets, then Frequency Modulation (FM), and then the latest versions, which were Pulse Code Modulation (PCM).
This progression gave us more reliable link between the transmitter and receiver and provided fail-safe operation in the PCM systems. The big drawback with these systems is that they operated on a specific frequency channel within the 72 MHz band, and it was vital that only one system be operating at any given time on each channel.
To ensure safe operation, a system of frequency pins was developed. You were issued a pin when you wanted to operate your transmitter. Each club had a similar system at its flying site. Before turning on your transmitter, you had to get the frequency pin from the frequency pin system board at the flying site. Usually, you shared the pin with others and kept track of those at the field who were flying on the same frequency as your own, to ensure that you did not cause interference and “shoot” the other guy down by mistake.
The FCC gave us 72.000-73.000 MHz as our area for operations of RC model airplane equipment. In the late 1980s, AMA worked with the FCC to obtain permission to expand the number of usable channels we enjoyed from 7 to 60. The FCC did not give us any more frequency bandwidth, but allowed manufacturers to make “narrow-band’ equipment so that it could safely operate more frequencies in the same amount of bandwidth.
We now have frequencies starting at 72.010 MHz and then spaced 20 KHz away is our next frequency 72.030 MHz. This spacing continues throughout the band to give us 60 channels from Channel 11 (72.010 MHz) to Channel 60 (72.990 MHz).
Having more channels allowed more pilots to fly at the same time with less worry of interference. These additional channels fueled a growth in RC. Along with the new frequencies, improvements in encoder design led to many enhancements in transmitter design.
New features were added such as programmable mixing, preprogrammed mixing, exponential, and many others. The latest designs included microprocessor-based transmitters that were capable of memorizing complete model settings, for the first time allowing a transmitter to operate more than one aircraft. Multimodel memory exploded onto the scene and transformed sport radios into sophisticated, affordable transmitters with new features finally made available to the masses.
So, what has changed? As far as 72 MHz RC operations today, nothing has changed since the 1991 narrow banding. All 72 MHz equipment that meets these requirements is still legal to operate today and will be legal for the foreseeable future. The FCC regulates radio frequencies in the US and we work closely with them on anything that would change the frequencies we are allowed to use. At this time, nothing is in the works that would change the current rules.
With the introduction of 2.4 GHz spread spectrum equipment, the need for frequency pins has disappeared. Now you can go to the flying field and not worry about interference from other RC pilots, if you are flying on 2.4 GHz. As soon as this design was proven to work, many modelers traded their 72 MHz gear for spread spectrum gear. Practically overnight, demand for 72MHz systems plummeted.
Manufacturers of RC radio equipment have determined that sales of 72 MHz RC equipment has slowed to the point that it is no longer economically profitable to continue to offer it to the retail consumer. They have discontinued manufacturing this equipment, and are pointing to 2.4 GHz RC equipment in its place.
Obviously 2.4 GHz equipment cannot be interfered with by other users of RC model aircraft systems (as designated by FCC rules) so 2.4 GHz RC equipment is deemed inherently safer and more current. Some even refer to 72 MHz RC equipment as obsolete and unsafe. Nothing could be further from the truth! It could even be argued that 72 MHz RC equipment is safer today, because many fliers are using 2.4 GHz RC equipment making the 72 MHz band less crowded, so there is less possibility of interference from other RC model fliers.
With many good RC radio systems for sale on the used market, many modelers are purchasing this gear to save money and to obtain a system with more features than what they currently own. This makes good economic sense! Although a company may not be making new equipment on 72 MHz, there is definitely a large amount of it available in the used marketplace, and good bargain hunters can enjoy saving money while obtaining a quality RC system.
The AMA has not changed its stance on 72 MHz equipment, and will continue to work with the FCC to keep 72 MHz, as well as the other frequencies, available to modelers. Unless a particular event or club decides to restrict operations to certain frequencies, 72 MHz (as well as 27 MHz, 50 MHz, 53 MHz and 75 MHz) will continue to be available to modelers in the US.
If you are looking for a good deal on RC equipment, consider purchasing used 72 MHz equipment. Lots of it is available at swap meets, flea markets, and online. Many club members still have good gear that they no longer use. With so many modelers operating on 2.4 GHz spread spectrum, 72 MHz is a good bet today. Heck, most of the time you will probably find that you are the only one at the field on 72 MHz, so you have your own private frequency. Isn’t that just as good?
72 MHz is alive and well; you just won’t find it at your favorite hobby dealer.
Flying Site Assistance Coordinator
Wading Through Taxes
Simply saying the word taxes can trigger the sudden onset of the “deer-in-the-headlights look.” Add in phrases such as 501(c)(7) status and federal identification numbers, and the waters become more muddy and scary. But figuring out how taxes come into play for your SIG doesn’t have to be stressful or frightening. AMA has some information that can help!
Vicki Barkdull, AMA comptroller, said that the organization has several resources available to help clubs with taxes, but the best source may be a local attorney or certified public accountant. “We can tell them what to do on a federal level, but state levels are all different,” she said.
The most common questions that Vicki hears are about how clubs can obtain 501(c)(7) status, and how to get a federal identification number to establish a club bank account. Both of those questions (and more) are answered on AMA’s website. Simply go to www.modelaircraft.org, click on AMA Documents, and scroll down to Tax Exempt and IRS Documents. There is plenty of information here including samples of how to fill out tax forms.
Vicki added that some aeromodeling clubs may be able to get property tax assistance or exemption for their flying sites. “Your local county assessor’s office would have information about that,” she said.
Busting AMA Insurance Myths, Part 4
One of the many benefits you receive with your AMA membership is insurance coverage for your modeling activities. There is much confusion and misinformation regarding this benefit. Throughout the next few months, we will address some of the commonly asked questions to help members better understand this valuable benefit.
AMA is not an insurance company and does not “write” its own policies. We purchase the various policies and ensure that AMA members receive insurance coverage through those policies. The 2014 Insurance Summary provides an outline of these insurance benefits. You can find a copy of this summary on AMA’s website at www.modelaircraft.org/files/InsuranceSummaryMembers.pdf.
Q. I recently purchased a multirotor with a GoPro camera and intend to use it for my personal, recreational use only. Is this a covered activity?
A. Yes, the liability coverage does apply to your multirotor activities on public or private property as long as the activity is for recreational purposes and that you respect others’ right of privacy. Before flight operation, you should verify that there are no local ordinances or laws that would prohibit the activity.
Q. I love flying my models, but I also enjoy RC boats. Somebody told me that AMA’s liability insurance covers that activity as well. Is that true?
A. Yes! The liability policy applies to bodily injury or property damage an AMA member causes because of his or her modeling activities with model aircraft, model rockets, RC cars, and RC boats. Although AMA doesn’t have its own safety codes for model rocket, car, and boat operations, it adopts the guidelines established by other organizations that specialize in those disciplines, such as the National Association of Rocketry, the Remotely Operated Auto Racers, etc.
Q. Does AMA publish a copy of the insurance policy?
A. You can find copies of the liability coverage in the AMA Document section at www.modelaircraft.org. Simply select Safety & Member Benefits under the Contents section and review documents number 500-L and 500-LA. Both policies combined comprise the $2,500,000 limit mentioned in a previous article.
—Safety & Member Benefits Department
Reed Falcon 2
Reed Falcon knife edge loop
The Reed Falcon
Biplanes caused much drama at the 1984 Tournament of Champions (TOC), hosted by Circus Circus Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
First, multiple-time TOC champion Hanno Prettner of Austria was disqualified when his Steen Skybolt failed to meet scale requirements. Second, there was the question of whether or not the 10% point advantage given to biplane entries overly favored them to the point where both first- and second-place models were biplanes. Third, both of the winning biplanes performed never-before-seen stunts, much to the thrill of the spectators.
One of those stunts was a knife-edge loop performed by pilot Steve Rojecki flying the Reed Falcon. Steve won first place thanks to his outstanding flying abilities. The Reed Falcon, built by Ken Bonnema, also took home the best biplane award.
Ken, Steve, and Don Chapman, the team’s engine and exhaust expert, knew that they wanted to take advantage of the biplane point bonus and researched designs in Jane’s Encyclopedia of Aviation. They looked for an airplane that had “good lines and moments, and looked as though it would fly well.”
The Reed Falcon, a design by Dr. Maitland Reed of South Africa, met their criteria. Ken wrote to Dr. Reed and obtained copies of the full-scale drawings, which he used to develop the model’s plans. The choice of aircraft and its design was important because, according to Steve, the configuration is what allowed him to make that knife-edge loop.
He described the Reed Falcon as “… a combination of power and the configuration of the design. It has a large vertical fin and a large rudder. Couple that with a lot of power and a light airframe, and you can do it.”
The point advantage, although dropped to 6% for the following competition, combined with the spectators’ obvious love of biplanes, meant that at the next TOC in 1988, the majority of entries were biplanes. That made the Reed Falcon a trendsetter, and a winner.
For pictures of the Reed Falcon and the 1984 TOC, be sure to visit http://amablog.modelaircraft.org and search for the TOC article on the National Model Aviation Museum’s blog.
Donated by Ken Bonnema in memory of Don Chapman, the Reed Falcon is currently on display in the museum’s Scale exhibit. Thanks to Ken for the donation, as well as his help with this article.
[Reed Falcon knife edge loop]
The Reed Falcon performing a knife-edge loop at the 1984 TOC.
[Reed Falcon 2]
True to its aerobatic past, the Reed Falcon is displayed upside down in the museum gallery.