As I write this, I have recently returned from AMA Expo 2015 in Ontario, California. The show was a success based on vendor and attendance numbers. Thanks to all who attended!
One of the most tear-wrenching moments of the show was listening to Norbie Lara, a severely wounded veteran who lost his right arm and sustained a serious head injury from a shoulder-fired missile. Norbie, representing the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), talked about his ordeal, and how WWP saved his life, allowing him to become a well-adjusted, self-sufficient member of our society. His message was so powerful there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd.
Norbie graciously accepted a $100,000 check, presented by AMA President Bob Brown and Mandee Mikulski, which represented the fundraising efforts of 200 AMA clubs during National Model Aviation Day events. When finished, every Executive Council member, associate vice president (AVP), and AMA employee in attendance shook hands with this courageous veteran and thanked him for his service. The most touching was when Jim Rice, a retired Army colonel and AVP and former District VIII vice president, saluted Norbie, and with a tear in his eye shook his left hand. What a sign of respect!
Our clubs that participated in National Model Aviation Day fundraisers can be proud of their accomplishments. They are making a difference in the lives of our wounded veterans. Thank you for your efforts!
The increase in the number of sUAS vendors and manufacturers at the Expo was noticeable. To say that this industry segment is taking off (no pun intended) is an understatement. Drones or sUAS are here to stay and their sales are dramatic.
Should your club allow these aircraft to be flown at your field in accordance with AMA guidelines? That is a decision that only your club can make.
I would like to draw an analogy here. I spoke with District X AVP Eric Henderson, who lives in Las Vegas. Eric said that his flying club has grown in the last couple of years to roughly 70 members. A nearby sUAS club has grown to more than 110 members in one year.
Imagine how successful our clubs can be if they embrace this rapidly growing technology, offering club membership and field access as well as safety training to these new hobbyists? Drone fliers will only grow in numbers. Why not work with them and show them the safe way to fly? This technology, when flown under AMA’s rules and guidelines, can easily be incorporated into club activities. And it’s a lot of fun.
AMA, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, and the Small UAV Coalition are working with the FAA in the development of the Know Before You Fly educational campaign. The initiative was released shortly before Christmas 2014 to help educate those who received drones as a gift.
The campaign provides a website (www.knowbeforeyoufly.org) that shows newcomers the safe way to fly. Each partner’s website is also provided to encourage prospective new members to hear our message.
The program is designed to raise the awareness of what is acceptable in the national airspace, and also to reduce the number of negative incidents that happen. This is a step forward for all of model aviation.
Our mission now is to partner with the major hobby distributors and manufacturers and promote the Know Before You Fly campaign in flyers included in product packaging. This will be a major step in educating the sUAS buyers on safe use.
Press releases about the program were incredible. Many major television and news cable channels and many newspapers picked it up and provided this information to their viewers and readers. AMA received a significant amount of national attention with this notable education program. We couldn’t have afforded to pay for the quantity of positive exposure.
The end of January brought rumors that the long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) from the FAA was to be released. After AMA has analyzed the NPRM, we will issue our response.
We will again ask all of our members to write or respond via email to the FAA during the NPRM’s 90-day response period. We will provide the necessary talking points and all of the information required. There must be no doubt the FAA understands our position.
Can you imagine the impact of what 100,000 responses will have? Let’s set a response record and make the FAA ask us to stop!
We had a great time at E-fest held at the University of Illinois Track and Field Armory in Champaign, Illinois, on January 24-25. This is a grand indoor venue was full of numerous vendors and distributors, and there was plenty of opportunity to fly under its high ceilings. Terry Nitsch of Top Gun fame flew a large balloon, dropping gift certificates to the participants throughout the day. If you haven’t attended E-fest, consider it.
Thanks for reading. Please help secure our future and take a youngster flying!