Op-Ed Column from Dave Mathewson: “Listen to Congress and leave model airplane hobbyists alone”

The Academy of Model Aeronautics asks the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to listen to Congress and leave model flying alone.

AMA Executive Director Dave Mathewson provided his insight and opinion over this topic in a recent op-ed column. In the column he discusses the newly proposed rules from the FAA, specifically the FAA’s interpretation of the “Special Rule for Model Aircraft.”

Click here to read the full column by Dave Mathewson on USA Today’s website.


  1. Maybe if the AMA was more concerned about the tens of thousands of paying members who fly “traditional” model aircraft, and less about trying to rope in the millions of people who fly drones and have no reason to pay AMA dues, the FAA would not have their sights set on us.

    1. Its not just drones people are flying FPV. There are many traditional LOS AMA members who fly planes FPV. Please stop propagating this as Drone = FPV issue.

  2. The AMA is now in a position the NRA was 30 years ago with the ‘assault rifle’ and ‘high-capacity’ magazine issues. Don’t care for the NRA? Well, the government and a sensational media has done its job demonizing a fine organization and its members! Just wait for when (not if, but when) an illegally operated drone takes down a full-sized aircraft. The AMA and all responsible modelers will be held responsible and subject to trainloads of new government restrictions; not to mention public ridicule. We and the AMA need to act aggressively to address and fight every new restriction or our hobby will become an illegal activity and cease to exist.

  3. The recent wildfires in California were exaserbated by 2 separate reports of drones flying within the aerial tankers air space. According to the reports, firefighting aircraft were grounded for 2 or more hours allowing precious time to slip away and allowing the fire to continue to spread.

    One or more stories like can easily get us grounded and/or heavily regulated if we do not address the issue from a preventative perspective.
    One day there will be a news conference or such where someone says “Whats going to happen when my house burns down because you were flying your drone and directly impeded the firefighters ability to defend my home.”

    And what about the safety of the crew of that aircraft, the cost, the damage, and the loss of life that innocently flying a drone during a spectacular event happening nearby can really cause.

    I assure you that if we don’t regulate ourselves, they will do it for us. And is angers me that one or two unscrupulous individuals would screw it up for everyone else… But thats exactly what will happen. ;(

  4. INTERPRETATION . . .I am having a growing dislike for that word. First the FAA uses it to disregard a Congressional mandate concerning the model airplane hobby and a couple weeks ago the Supreme Court used it on OBamacare to say “intent” over-rides the actual wording as specifically used in the Bill. Twice this week I’ve read articles about users of camera drones getting FAA permits to use them on their own property and even indoors. We won’t get into some of the idiotic restrictions in the permits.

  5. I have been a member of AMA for 50-some years ( my precious # was 21371), I became a Contest Director (AMA 347), since 1975 I believe and have conducted the California FAI Invitational contest at Lost Hills CA, for 40 consecutive years I have a complaint about you increasing the AMA licence fees to $65 and $75; I am almost 80 years old this coming November and spending $65 for a licence to go flying perhaps 2 or 3 times a year I don’t think is worth it, I don’t make that kind of money to be trowing away that way. As a CD I was paying $25 but now I will not be C/Ding any more contests so I don’t think I will continue to be a member.
    Juan Livotto

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