[headline: Many years of challenge for AMA]
[possible pull quote: “… I am also disenchanted with those who continue to demonstrate unsafe model aviation activity.”
Recent weeks have been challenging for the longevity of model aviation in the US. For those of you who are unaware of recent FAA edicts, please read elsewhere in this magazine for their content.
The past six years have been challenging for AMA in the role of representing aeromodeling to the FAA. Frequent changes in government philosophy, political reorganization, turnover in crucial employees, etc. are just some of the issues with which we have had to contend. On June 23, 2014, the FAA produced a statement known as the Interpretive Rule. On the surface it means little.
To those with an understanding of its meaning, it is ridiculous. I have no idea why the FAA has taken several aspects to the extreme. As I review the past several years of productive meetings with the FAA, I am at a loss to understand the complete reversal in its philosophy.
It appears that one or more people were communicating in an erroneous fashion. In January 2014, I signed a memorandum of understanding with James Williams, manager of the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office. At that time, I was also told that AMA would be recognized as a Community Based Organization (CBO) within 20-30 days. As I write this, it is mid-July and we have no recognition; however, the recent Interpretive Rule alludes to the AMA as being a recognized CBO. Did I skip that page in the book? I don’t think so!
In order to resolve the dilemma with the FAA a meeting was held in Washington, D.C. on July 9, 2014. Attending the meeting were 13 FAA employees including Peggy Gilligan (Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety), Jim Williams, and two members of the department’s legal staff. Dave Mathewson, Rich Hanson, Mitch Rose, and I represented AMA.
In my opinion, the meeting was positive but could not be conclusive because of legal constraints generated by the comment period of the Interpretive Rule. It was mentioned numerous times that the FAA had no intention of causing problems for AMA members.
Although I am obviously negative concerning the FAA edicts, I am also disenchanted with those who continue to demonstrate unsafe model aviation activity. Why on earth would one jeopardize human life by flying in close proximity to full-scale aircraft? Why does one think it is safe to fly over large crowds? Why are so many doing stupid things?
The answer is quite simple … these people are not AMA members. It is about time that every AMA member attempts to educate the public, manufacturers, and retail merchants that safety is of prime importance! Don’t be afraid to educate all involved that we expect people to fly with intelligence.
In doing so, we must also recognize that there will be some who will not conform. The solution to this is to inform the FAA and/or police of the unsafe actions of a chosen few. Laws to protect us from unsafe activity are already on the books; the proper authorities must enforce them.
AMA District IV Vice President Bliss Teague has announced his retirement from the Executive Council. I have been extremely fortunate to know Bliss and his wife, Shirley, for many years. Bliss is the perfect example of a southern gentleman and the couple’s hospitality is second to none.
Thank you for many years of leadership in District IV and on the AMA Executive Council.[dingbat]