[headline: Families and children are again finding an interest in model aviation]
As I look back at 2014, I think it’s accurate to say that it was a good year for AMA.
For the third consecutive year, AMA experienced a growth in paid membership. Overall, membership was up slightly more than 2.5%, but what’s exciting about the numbers is the 11.8% growth in new members to our association. Even more interesting is the fact that the average age of these new members is considerably lower than what’s been experienced in the past, reducing the median age of our overall membership.
This, along with the anecdotal evidence we’ve witnessed while attending events across the country, suggests that younger people—those with families and young children—are again finding an interest in model aviation.
While this is good news for aeromodeling and positive for AMA, it’s also good news for the country and for the aviation and aerospace industry. Evolving technologies have attracted the attention of many young people, especially those studying in high school and college. A substantial number of colleges and universities have adopted new courses into the curriculums they have traditionally offered to potential students.
These young students are our future. They will be the answer to the aerospace industry’s concerns about where the next generation of aerospace engineers will come from. The answer is becoming clear. They will come from a generation of young people whose interest in aviation was first sparked by a model aircraft.
At the AMA Expo in Ontario, California, earlier this month, the new AMA Foundation’s Board of Directors was introduced.
The AMA Foundation will play an important role in our organization’s future. The foundation will manage an endowment that will support AMA programming going forward. Programs that are now supported by member dues will be supported by proceeds from the foundation endowment, allowing AMA to keep dues stable.
As the endowment grows, more funding will be available to support many of AMA’s initiatives including the AMA Charles H. Grant Scholarship Program, the Flying Site Assistance Program, the AMA Disaster Relief Fund, the National Model Aviation Museum, AMAs education outreach efforts, and others.
Although there will be some immediate impact, the foundation’s true value and that of the endowment probably won’t be realized for many years. However, it’s important that AMA position itself so that years from now, we will be able to sustain these great programs and others that benefit our membership and the model aviation community.
Planning has already begun for National Model Aviation Day 2015. National Model Aviation Day was created to encourage clubs to celebrate the hobby and share it with their friends and neighbors in their communities.
AMA clubs are asked to conduct a fundraiser to help support a worthy cause. Again in 2015, the proceeds from this year’s event will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project. The date for this year’s celebration is Saturday, August 15.
In 2014, 194 clubs registered for the event, state proclamations were administered in six states, National Model Aviation Day was recognized on the floor of Congress, and roughly $100,000 was raised to support the Wounded Warrior Project’s programs and services that benefit our injured veterans and their families.
This was up considerably from 2013 and we hope to exceed this number in 2015. We are asking for your help to make that happen. You can learn more about National Model Aviation Day and register your club to participate by visiting http://nationalmodelaviationday.org.
As of mid-December, there was talk that the long-awaited small Unmanned Aircraft Systems notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) will soon be published in the Federal Register. When this happens, it will trigger a period of public comment that will likely last a minimum of 90 days.
After AMA has an opportunity to review the NPRM, we will present our membership with a suggested course of action. AMA encourages all of its members to remain vigilant and attentive to the issue. The best way to remain current is to regularly visit the AMA’s Government Relations section of the AMA website at www.modelaircraft.org/gov.
See you next time.[dingbat]