Do you remember when you first became interested in model aviation? Opening the box of your first model and getting it ready to fly? Your first flight? Your first successful flight? Do you recall reading everything you could get your hands on to help you learn more about your newfound hobby? If you’re like most other model aviation enthusiasts, I suspect those were exciting times.
During the recent holidays, tens of thousands of people across the country, young and old alike, found themselves the proud owners of new model aircraft. Many of them are anxious to take to the skies and begin the path to a new—and what will hopefully become a lifelong—recreational activity.
Many of these new enthusiasts will visit local hobby shops where they will learn about AMA and our system of structured clubs. Many will search for clubs in their area and plan a visit. They’ll do this with the hopes of connecting with others who share a common interest and who can help with answers to their many questions and help them become better modelers.
My bet is that this is no different than what many of us did when we first got involved in aeromodeling. Did you feel welcome when you visited a club? Did you receive the help you needed? My hope is that, for most of us, the answer is yes.
For those experienced modelers who are members of a club, do you welcome visitors to your field and new enthusiasts to your club and offer whatever support you can to help? If you do, look around at your modeling friends today. I’ll bet each of us can point to at least one person who became a friend because we first welcomed them to the model aviation fold.
Model aviation is a great recreational activity. Experiencing model aviation with others who share a common bond most often takes the experience to another level. More than that, welcoming new enthusiasts into your club fills the need that most clubs have for new members to help spread the workload, eventually take up the reins of leadership, and continue the group’s traditions.
Welcoming new enthusiasts as you would hope to be welcomed can only benefit all of us, our clubs, and our association.
By now, I suspect most of you have heard about the Know Before You Fly campaign. This campaign is a combined effort of AMA, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), and the Small UAV Coalition, and is supported by the FAA.
Launched in late December during a press teleconference that included AMA President Bob Brown and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, the campaign has received considerable coverage. On January 7, 2015, the Consumer Electronics Association endorsed Know Before You Fly and on January 9, at the AMA Expo, the EAA did the same.
The campaign is an effort to help educate new model aviation enthusiasts about safe and responsible flying. Although there will be a multipath approach to accomplish this goal, including a website at www.knowbeforeyoufly.org, we will be reaching out to the industry asking for its support. The partners believe that the best way to get safety information into the hands of new enthusiasts is through the manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of the products.
Although our audiences and membership are different, AMA, AUVSI, and the Small UAV Coalition believe that most new enthusiasts want to operate safely and responsibly; they simply haven’t received the information they need that will allow them to do that.
No matter what our individual members fly or what they fly for, this campaign will benefit everyone. It sends the message to our elected officials, to the media, and maybe most importantly to the general public, that we are responsible organizations and are taking a proactive approach to safety.
In my last column, I wrote that as of mid-December 2014 the long-awaited sUAS notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) was due to be released before the end of last year. Probably to no one’s surprise, that didn’t happen. We’ve lost count of the number of times the NPRM was due to be released but further delayed.
As of mid-January, we’re not sure where it is in the process and the only thing we’re hearing from the FAA is that “It’s more important to get it right than to get it out quickly.” AMA certainly doesn’t disagree with that, but the uncertainty of the entire process is challenging.
As always, I ask the our members stay current on the issues and the best way to do that is to regularly visit the Government Relations section of the AMA website at www.modelaircraft.org/gov.
See you next time.