2013 in Review

It’s hard to believe we’ve reached the end of 2013. This seems like a good time to look back at some of what AMA has accomplished during the last 12 months.

As was the case in 2012, AMA saw a growth in paid membership. Although two years in a row may not be defined as a trend, it’s certainly nice to see this reversal after a 10-year membership decline.

We’re especially proud that our Youth membership numbers have seen a reversal from just a few short years ago. Between 2002 and 2009, AMA had lost more than 53% of its youth members. Through hard work and new initiatives, AMA has not only completely recovered this loss but added considerably to these numbers in 2013.

AMA’s Government Relations team continues to make great strides. Our most visible accomplishment in 2012 was succeeding in having the AMA amendment protecting model aviation included in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

In 2013, we were faced with additional challenges when nearly 40 states considered new legislation to protect the public’s privacy rights and civil liberties from the use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS). In working with state representatives, AMA was successful in offering language for these proposed bills that would exempt recreational model aviation from the intent of this legislation.

In nearly all of these cases, the bills’ sponsors told us that it was not their intent to harm model aviation and that they were appreciative of AMA reaching out to ensure that didn’t happen.

It’s important to point out that, in many cases, it was AMA members who became aware of potential legislative issues in their states and brought this to AMA’s attention. Working together with members we were able to successfully find solutions to what otherwise might have become onerous regulations placed on aeromodelers. This shows how the collaborative efforts of a large network of model aviation enthusiasts can accomplish good things.

Strength in numbers is important when we speak in unison on an issue; however, strength in numbers may be even more important when it provides the resources needed to protect our ability to enjoy what we do as model aviation enthusiasts. AMA thanks each of its members who stepped up to the plate in 2013 and got involved when needed. We anticipate another potential round of legislative issues in 2014 and, as always, we ask our members to remain vigilant and involved.

During this past year, AMA took a huge step forward with its publications initiatives. The Model Aviation magazine library and archive was updated to include every issue since July of 1975. This resource of nearly 500 monthly issues is great for members who need to do research or simply want to flip through past issues of the magazine to read a little about what model aviation was like 10, 20, and 30 or more years ago.

In early September, AMA launched its revised digital version of Model Aviation. Members now have a choice as to how they prefer to receive their magazine. Members can continue to receive a print version, opt to receive a digital version on their computer, tablet, or smartphone, or for a small additional charge, receive both. The digital version includes enhanced content such as additional pictures, videos, and even an occasional additional feature article.

The inaugural AMA National Model Aviation Day was held in August 2013. One-hundred seventy-six AMA-chartered clubs participated in this national event that was recognized by a number of state proclamations.

Because of the hard work of our members and clubs, National Model Aviation Day raised more than $76,000 to support the Wounded Warrior Project. This was a great start to what will be an annual event. Look for more information about National Model Aviation Day 2014 soon.

AMA’s work in 2013 to create the AMA Foundation is about to pay off. We received IRS approval of our application and will launch the foundation in early 2014. A formal launch is planned at the AMA Expo in Ontario, California, on January 11, 2014.

The new 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.

AMA spent much of last year researching and planning to replace its current association management and content management systems. AMA’s current system, built in the early 1990s, is antiquated, obsolete, and is unable to provide the features and functions that an association such as AMA needs.

The new system will allow us to provide better support to our members, improve communication with our members and clubs, and better connect with those who may be considering membership. This is a large, time-consuming project that requires many staff resources. Plans are to implement the new system in 2014.

 During the FAI general conference in Antalya, Turkey, AMA’s National Model Aviation Museum was accepted into the FAI Recommended Museums Program. The FAI program recognizes “worthy and notable museum collections that document the history of air sports, aeronautics, and astronautics.”

A plaque recognizing this accomplishment was presented by FAI President John Grubbström and the president of the FAI Aviation and Space Education Commission, Michiel Kasteleijn, to Art Greenfield, head of the US delegation. Jonathan Gaffney, president of the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), presented the plaque to AMA President Bob Brown at the 2013 AMA Expo.

The National Model Aviation Museum in Muncie, Indiana, is one of only three US museums holding this honor.

AMA’s education outreach efforts took huge strides in 2013 and the program was recognized for that work.

“Wings Over Indiana,” a special one-hour edition of the science series, Indiana Expeditions, received two Emmy Awards by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The television special, created in collaboration between AMA, WFYI Productions, and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, was made possible by a NASA grant.

The episode profiles astronauts and model and full-scale aviators of all ages, and outlines the value model aviation brings to the world of aviation and aerospace engineering.

AMA’s collaborative efforts with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) helped introduce more than 200 CAP squadrons across the country to model aviation in 2013. Many of the youth members in these squadrons will become modelers and aviators.

In the second year of a three-year Alcoa Foundation grant, AMA continues to develop AeroLab II, a course of study that uses model aviation to teach science, technology, engineering, and math. AeroLab II has been so well received by Alcoa that it is being translated into eight languages for worldwide distribution.

AMA Flight School, AMA’s online educational resource, has grown exponentially in 2013. In early 2014, Flight School’s interactive learning management system will be launched, creating a virtual classroom for visitors.

AMA has been recognized a number of times for its education outreach efforts, including receiving the Brewer Award (considered to be the foremost award for education outreach in aviation) from the NAA in 2011.

This past October, AMA was again recognized for its education outreach. This time recognition came from the Muncie, Indiana, community. AMA received the Outstanding Contribution to Education Award from the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce.

This is the first time that the award, sponsored by Ball State University, has been presented to an organization, and we’re extremely proud of this recognition.

 The FAA will soon act on AMA’s request to be recognized as a community-based organization as defined in Public Law 112-95 enacted by Congress in 2012. AMA submitted its request early in 2013 and expects to soon receive a letter from the FAA recognizing us as such. We believe, at this point, that this is merely a formality.

In addition to being recognized as a community-based organization, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been established between FAA and AMA outlining the relationship between both organizations and how we will work together going forward. The language in the MOU has been agreed upon by AMA and the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office (UASIO), and it’s now working its way through the FAA hierarchy for final approval. If things go as planned, the MOU will be signed by Jim Williams, UASIO manager and AMA President Bob Brown, at the AMA Expo in Ontario, California, on Saturday, January 11, 2013.

It was a positive and productive year for AMA in 2013. We accomplished much, however there is more to do, and we intend to move into 2014 full-speed ahead.

To each of our members, thank you for making 2013 a fantastic year and thank you for belonging to the world’s greatest model aviation organization.

-Dave Mathewson, AMA Executive Director

Dave Mathewson, AMA Executive Director


  1. Dave thank you and the whole AMA team for your hard work. It helps to advance the hobby and is a source of pride for all the membership. Hope to see u this summer. Lou Trombino member (Sky Rover flying club)

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