The AMA’s Heavy-Lift Challenge Is a Unique Model Aviation Experience for 2024!

Earlier this month the AMA Education team opened registration for the 2024 season of our Heavy-Lift Challenge, and after our last two successful seasons, we’re more excited than ever to share this special program with our youth membership! Although the details of the competition itself, as well as registration, can be found here, we also want to share the unique benefits offered by the Heavy-Lift Challenge, particularly for those who might be newer to model aviation or are wondering about the best ways to proceed from their beginner phase.


Although the parameters of the contest are relatively simple and straightforward, the Heavy-Lift Challenge will simultaneously develop you and your teammates in three areas:

  • FLYING SKILLS: If you’ve just gotten the hang of solo flight (complete with takeoffs and landings, of course), learning how to maneuver a uniquely equipped and modified aircraft will put you to the test in a new way.
  • METEOROLOGY: To have the greatest success in the event, you will need to carefully measure and monitor atmospheric variables such as humidity, barometric pressure, and wind, and account for them in your design and flying.
  • ENGINEERING: Designing a mechanism for lifting the heaviest payload, while simultaneously keeping your aircraft safe, aerodynamic, and controllable, might be a more demanding task than it first appears.

And remember, the AMA will automatically enroll you and all your teammates in our Ground School course upon registration, so if you ARE new to model aviation, you will have all the educational and safety resources you need to succeed right at your disposal! Completion of the course is mandatory.

Some of the best parts of the Heavy-Lift Challenge are the ones that aren’t in the rules! Teams are informed of a goal, a deadline, and the type of aircraft to use, but everything else involved with the contest is extremely open-ended!

  • Rather than listing a long set of dates and milestones to work around, teams have the flexibility to meet as often as necessary, on self-determined schedules that work for the team members! Unlike similar programs, such as UAS4STEM, there is no travel required for the Heavy-Lift Challenge.
  • Testing and flying sites are also completely at the team’s discretion, allowing for the best possible familiarity with the environment and no last-minute surprises. We like to think of the Heavy-Lift Challenge as one competition where every team has a homefield advantage!
  • This flexibility gives team members the ability to develop leadership and organizational skills, and provides room to share responsibilities in ways that best benefit the team.

The Heavy-Lift Challenge is a unique program among the AMA’s educational materials, and among STE(A)M programs overall! We have great expectations for this year’s season and hope you are as excited as we are! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to the AMA Education team at at any time and we’d be happy to help you out! We’re very much looking forward to seeing who rises to meet the Heavy-Lift Challenge this coming year!


  1. Ahoy, AMA,
    I am probably the oldest one-time AMA member to contact you today, at 95 years old. My first AMA membership was likely in ~~ 1938 at ten years old.
    I became a TailHook Naval Aviator, full career.
    An anecdote, from long ago. At Pensacola, beginning flight training we went through a complete menagerie of tests to access our likelihood of success. Years later, a Navy friend was talking with one of those aviation physiologists about these tests. ‘We gave that up years ago, but there was one question which was infallible’. If he answered YES, he always got his wings. The question was: Did you build and fly model airplanes?

    1. Thanks so much for your membership Robert, as well as your service to our nation! I can only imagine the stories you could share as a Navy aviator. and what an amazing anecdote you share! Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

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