2015 is starting with a bang! I am getting my first taste of a real winter in the north! Learning to deal with snow and ice has been the theme for me. So far, it is not as bad as I thought … but it is just mid-January!
I just returned from the AMA Expo in Ontario, California. The show was well attended and all of the vendors seemed to be busy and happy with sales at the show. Hopefully, this will be a trend for manufacturers and dealers that will equate to good sales all year and an upswing for modeling activity.
My task at the show this year was two-fold. As the Flying Site Assistance Coordinator, I was able to speak with several AMA members who were having issues with their flying sites. Some were busy looking for a new site, and others had located a site and were working on creating presentations to use when approaching the site owners.
Over the years, I have gathered information and documents to help clubs. I have several great PowerPoint presentations that clubs have created. The clubs shared these with me so that I can share them with you. These presentations tell the story of AMA, as well as specific info about the club, its history, and future plans for the flying site they are working to acquire.
Along with the PowerPoints, I have been able to build some spreadsheets based on the information we obtained this past year from club surveys. This data gives information on the flying sites that AMA clubs are using and can be invaluable to clubs that are approaching a site owner who is not familiar with model aviation. For example, in speaking with a county official about using a closed landfill for a flying site, we can use the data to show that there are many AMA clubs that are flying on closed landfills and can provide specific locations and clubs that are enjoying them. This information can break the ice with governmental officials who may have concerns about allowing the activity.
I provide these PowerPoint presentations to many AMA clubs each month. The clubs modify them with their own information and goals and end up with a nice, professional looking presentation to use. Having something already designed helps club to not have to start from scratch. Seeing what others have done and modifying it for your use reduces the time and design work involved on the part of the club. I have given out sample presentations to literally hundreds of AMA clubs and members throughout the past 3 years.
At Expo, I also had several conversations with clubs concerning the new 5-mile radius law that came into being as a result of the 2012 FAA re-authorization bill approved by congress. The law is:
SEC. 336. SPECIAL RULE FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law relating to the incorporation of unmanned aircraft systems into Federal Aviation Administration plans and policies, including this subtitle, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft, if:
(1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;
(2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;
(3) the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization;
(4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and
(5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located
at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport)).
For parts 1-4 above, the AMA Safety Code, See and Avoid and Large Model Aircraft documents cover these concerns. However, part 5 is currently not addressed. AMA and the FAA were to work together to create a process whereby this law could be enacted. At this point, the FAA has not assisted AMA to make this happen. Therefore, AMA is going to be proactive and create documents and procedures to fulfill this requirement to be in compliance with this law.
As a result, Rich Hanson, the director of public relations and government affairs, and I are working on this now and will be communicating with AMA clubs throughout 2015 to:
1. Identify clubs that have flying sites that are within 5 miles of an airport
2. Determine the type of airport near the site to see if an agreement is needed
3. Create a sample agreement document
4. Provide assistance to the club to help them create the agreement using the sample as a reference, or, if the club wishes, work on behalf of the club to create the agreement.
This will take some time to work through 2400 clubs! It is our goal to have agreements completed for all clubs that fit into the 5-mile rule by the end of 2015. So, look for more information on this in the near future.
While at Expo, I was also involved with assisting Mandee Mikulski (AMA Foundation director and development communications coordinator) with a large estate sale benefitting the AMA Foundation. Mandee was contacted by the widow of an AMA Member who wanted her husband’s models and equipment to be passed on to other modelers to enjoy. In addition, she wanted to have the proceeds from the sales to be donated to the foundation. In order to do that, we arranged to have the models and equipment delivered to the AMA Expo and a Foundation Estate Sale was set up next to the Swap Shop area of the Expo.
I am happy to report that we received lots of support from the show, and sold just about everything! All of the monies raised went directly to the AMA Foundation. Thanks to all of you who purchased items from the estate sale.
Looking forward to spring …