California governor vetoes SB 142

Legislation intended to restrict drone pilots in California has been vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. In a media release published on September 10, AMA Executive Director, Dave Mathewson, publically thanked the nearly 3,000 AMA members in California who wrote to the Governor and urged him to veto the legislation.


MUNCIE, Ind.Dave Mathewson, executive director of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), today released the following statement on California Governor Brown’s veto of SB 142, legislation that, although unintended, would have had a detrimental impact on the aeromodeling community:

“We are thrilled with Governor Brown’s veto of SB 142. Although unintentional, this legislation would have had significant consequences for model aviation enthusiasts. We want to thank the nearly 3,000 AMA members in California who wrote to the Governor and urged him to veto the legislation. There’s no doubt Governor Brown made the right call on this one – legislators need to take a closer look at how to ensure privacy and protect the hobbyist community before passing a new law.

“AMA strongly supports protecting individual privacy and prosecuting careless and reckless behavior. But it’s also important for legislators to acknowledge, as Governor Brown has by vetoing SB 142, that placing further restrictions on the hobbyist community, which has been flying safely for 80 years, is not the way to prevent violations of privacy or instances of irresponsible flying in the future.

“Since 1936, AMA and its members have been committed to safe and responsible flying. That’s why all AMA members already follow a strict privacy policy that prohibits model aircraft from aerial surveillance and capturing images where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. We look forward to working with Governor Brown and California legislators to find a path forward on privacy issues.”

AMA previously expressed its concerns to Senator Jackson, sponsor of SB 142, on August 18. For a copy of the letter click here.

# # #

The Academy of Model Aeronautics, founded in 1936, continues to be devoted to national airspace safety. It serves as the nation’s collective voice for approximately 180,000 modelers in 2,400 clubs in the United States and Puerto Rico. Headquartered in Muncie, Indiana, AMA is a membership organization representing those who fly model aircraft for recreation and educational purposes. For more information, visit


  1. Yay! 🙂

    Educating the public, not legislation, is the best path to follow.

    And educating the lawyers & politicians, is also the best path to follow. A hands on demo/show & tell with the top political leaders to show how beneficial the new technology is “if they would even consent to attend” would go a long way in proving a point.

    Maybe if some influential AMA leaders could get DJI to sponsor something like that – “DJI would greatly benefit too-since their business would be affected by rule changes” they would understand what is taking place first hand.

    Then again, maybe Sacramento politicians wouldn’t care @ all and not show up or just decline the invitation if something were to be set up. Maybe, they will simply move on to the next political & emotional thing in the news.

    But right now, having that legislation vetoed is great news!

    Way to go everyone!!!

  2. Drones are not model aircraft ! The AMA should not recognize them and distance them selves from this fad and state this to all federal and those who operate them period!!

    1. Yes I agree. Bravo to Governor Moonbeam! He also has vetoed many well intended gun “safety” bills that would have had negative effects on 2nd amendment rights. These vetoes have also gone largely ignored, but he has dozens under his belt. As a State Governor, he has a firm resolve to do what is logical. Regardless of whatever anyone thinks about his political party in general, he is an independent thinker, and acts without hesitation when it comes to protecting his constituents from invasions of privacy, whether it is by miniature hover-drone fanatics or federal regulators.

      I would actually like to see him throw his hat in the ring for the 2016 Presidential election.

      But regarding radio controlled aircraft , there needs to be a practice and/or massive news release campaign to the media to use correct terminology. Lumping Radio Control Model Fixed Wing Aircraft under the same heading as multi-motored gyro stabilized drones sold by the millions, as well as military remotely piloted vehicles is the kind of thing that confounds public understanding. These three categories, in addition to radio controlled helicopters make up four distinctly different categories
      of things that fly without people on board. Rules and standards of behavior by those who operate any of the civilian categories are very well managed by the AMA over it’s members. It is the toy drone category that is utterly out of control. The public in general and lawmakers specifically need to be brought up to speed.

    2. I agree. Drones, are not model aircraft. The AMA should set up a special classification for drones. They did this for indoor, and park flyers. Drones that are used by professional photographers, and other businesses should be licensed by the FAA, and registered just like guns. Then when accidents happen, they can identify those responsible. The largest problem are the mail order houses who sell to whoever pays for them. Controlling those would be almost impossible.

      1. You seem to not know the real reason AMA will continue to support drone users….$$$

      2. For professionals to operate legally they already have to be ‘Licenced’.

        If you’d like to read through some of the 1000 odd part 333 exemptions granted, you’d find that at a minimum, the PIC has to have a sport pilot licence and at least a valid drivers licence covering medical/vision requirements.

      3. And this attitude is why the AMA won’t be getting my renewal. The geriatric RC crowd is throwing the “drone” (AKA multirotor) crowd to the FAA wolves in the hope that it appeases them. The AMA is fruitlessly negotiating with a bureaucracy that DOES NOT CARE about hobby RC pilots. Since the commenter above me decided to use guns as an analogy, let me take it a step further: if you let the Federal government come for your “drones” (or guns) now, they will not stop. They will eventually regulate every aspect of the RC aircraft hobby out of existence because YOU decided to sell out a facet you’re not interested in. It will be sold as “common sense” or “safety” or some such other nonsense but it WILL come and there will be nothing anyone can do about it. As for me, I will not be paying protection money to the AMA to appease the FAA bureaucrats.

        1. Incorrect. It becomes a drone when you use GPS and program a flight-path for the aircraft. A drone is an autonomous aircraft.

          Its not that simple.
          A multirotor should not be flown/bought by someone who’s never had experience or training with a CFI from AMA.

    3. If you think drones are a fad you’re out of touch.
      You also seem to think that “drones” are somehow distinguishable from what you like to think of as model aircraft. It’s a brave new world, time to catch up.

    4. I beg to differ that multi-rotors are not model aircraft. It flies therefore it is an aircraft and I built both of mine myself just as someone with a fixed wing craft built theirs. Are model helicopters model aircraft? I don’t see the difference myself. Just as a matter of record, I fly fixed wing model aircraft as well as multirotors. I pay dues to AMA like everyone else as well…

    5. Guy you post bothers me on several levels. With all due respect, multirotors fly through the air therefore are aircraft. I happen to like taking video of the beauty of the earth from a platform that can carry a stabilized gimbal at slow speeds. I also fly electric scale, sport, gliders and combat fixed wing. I also like flying line of sight as well as FPV. Like you and everyone else here I obey the rules of the road and also like you I am astounded by the stupidity of a few RTF multirotor operators who obviously aren’t thinking safety first. The problem lies there, not with the vast majority of multirotor pilots and AMA members who operate in a safe manner. To lump all multirotor pilots into one group and cut them off from the AMA umbrella would create a whole group of mavericks and outlaws without any form of peer pressure to keep them in line. It would also be a disservice to those AMA members who enjoy this form of flying.

      Congratulations to those AMA members, myself included even though I don’t reside in California, who wrote in support of a veto and to the AMA for spearheading the campaign anf a huge thank you to Gov. Brown. Together we stand strong, divided we fall….

    6. According to all definitions I found, drones would be considered and aircraft. E.g. Wikipedia states., “An aircraft is a machine that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet.” You seemed to have made an incorrect statement, as if it were fact, to support your biased opinion, which makes the argument invalid in my mind.

    7. It sounds like some education among AMA members may also be needed. Why is it you feel “drones” are not model aircraft? I do not fly my “quadcopter” for business. I fly it for pleasure as you do your aircraft I’m sure. Yes it does have a camera on it. Which I like to think of as a souvenir of my flight.

      Some do have the capability of flying waypoints or following your GPS enabled phone or tablet, but not all. And not everyone uses them that way as well. I agree with another post saying if you slap GPS and a camera on your model plane would it then become a “drone”. The exact same tech could be installed in a winged aircraft. (And has been…)

      To another poster, you should also look up the definition of autonomous. My quad and most, are not autonomous. They are flown by remote control, same as yours.

      We have in this country today what I like to call “Drone Paranoia’. People hear the term “drone” and immediately envision either some military technology or some evil little imp peering into people’s windows.

      We should all work together so that we may “all” safely continue our hobby, whether it be fixed wing or multi-rotor.

      P.S. Do I win for the most amount of quotation marks in a post? ;-p

  3. Thank you governor Brown, I think the AMA should invite Governor Brown to an event so he can see the hobby in action.

  4. Governor Brown….many thank you for your good ruling about the hobby….i sincerely hope to see you in one of the events so you can see for yourself that there is no bad intentions…of course there is evil out there…but i hope law enforcement will catch them. Thank you again.

  5. First off Guy is using “drones” and model aircraft in the same. The problem is education and the media. And certain people. The use of the term drone for a multi-rotor craft that might have a camera on it but is not autonomous is incorrect. Its a model aircraft with a camera on it. I used to use a little plastic intel web/pic camera on the bottom of my 1/4 scale cub with a servo pressing the button to take pictures of video back in 1999! Is this a drone? No again is a model plane with a camera on it. I can mount a camera on my Cessna and take thousands of photos of you sitting in your backyards and no one is crying about that. But the minute a “drone” is hovering at the park oh no call the police its gonna get someone. The terminology must change. And the people using these whom are posting videos of themselves doing irresponsible garbage must stop. Although the damage is done the AMA should put a little more time into promoting the good of these model air craft. Furthermore people involved in the hobby or commercial should do the same. It can be changed in the public eye but people must do it. The bad attitude Guy has towards them is part of the problem. Lets face it they are not going away so either put your head in the sand or deal with it.

  6. We keep passing more laws to idiot proof society, but we also keep producing better idiots! I fly model airplanes. I follow the rules. I ask others to follow the “rules” . We still get the hotshot that wants to fly a multicopter in a situation that creates problems. New laws will be ignored by the same people that ignore the old laws.

    Since the popularity of “rotary aircraft” has come to us all, education is necessary. Give the “people” dedicated space” to fly these contraptions, just like Baseball parks. Parks should serve us all, much like they serve “Skaters” and Skate boarders. The “park Idea works for most sports and offers accessability. There is no reason for a “pilot ” of a small multiprop craft to fly over a fire or even someones hot tub other than stupidity! Provide appropiate space for these “outlaw Pilots” and offer education and have fun! no bombs, no guns, just good clean fun. Let the Bad Air Out!

  7. I recently got back into RC and it was the multi-rotor’s that resparked my interest. I got on ebay and bought a $70 multi-rotor. No camera, just wanted to see if this could help me graduate to planes.
    I have a RC club right across the street from my work, so I stopped by to introduce myself. I was very put off and disappointed by the old-timers that frowned upon my multi-rotor, stuck they’re noses in the air and said “anyone can fly those”.. When, after watching these “experienced old-timers” for a few hours, I quickly learned they could barely control their own aircraft due to poor reaction times, apparently due to old age.

    First off, Anyone can learn to fly a plane if they have enough cash to replace them after a crash.
    Second, I really don’t see that much difference in the flight characteristics of the “drones”. The joysticks serve the same characteristics and purpose as they do with planes.
    Thirdly, How different are multi-rotors from heli’s? Can you put a camera on them. Yes!

    I fly my multi-roter in a safe manner. It’s very fast and could injure someone them same as a plane. I’m learning about the equipment, AMA and club rules. Yes I joined the AMA as a drone flyer. We’ll see if I stick with it. I guess it depends on the snobby plane flyers.

    btw, I’m 51 years old.. Not a kid by any means.

  8. In the “full scale” aviation department, I found it interesting, and gratifying, that the newly certified ICON A5 is so intuitive, so easy to fly… it has addressed a number of issues with light aircraft that may well enable a large number of new pilots to enter the GA (General Aviation) sector, which has suffered for a number of years due to the increasing age of both pilots and of many general aviation aircraft. Without getting too much into details, it appears the ICON A5 has opened the door for “anybody” to be able to fly it, it’s that good.

    Kind of reminds me of the “crotch rocket” motorcycle fad that began in the 70s– if you had the money, you could buy a bike that would blow the socks off anything around. (Unfortunately, a number of fatalities quickly resulted…) And current technology with model airplanes– we now have gyro stabilization, automatic “save the airplane” overrides, and now even GPS-equipped aircraft to keep our models within a specified area.

    In short, technology has made –and is making– it possible for almost anyone to get into the game.

    I found it particularly interesting, however, that, even with its high demand and ease of flying, ICON has decided that they will actually deny delivery to anyone who doesn’t demonstrate both proficiency AND RESPONSIBILITY as a pilot during their MANDATORY training. (Sport Aviation magazine, August, 2015)

    Wow– there’s an idea! I shudder to think of yet another federal agency overseeing “licensing,” but what if folks who make these things –quad copters, “drones” and such– would actually assume some responsibility and require training/qualification before selling them??

    Nah.. never happen.

  9. My main concern is the use of the quad copters in the hands of kids or adults who don’t understand the dangers they can pose toward commercial aircraft. It will be a matter of time before a tragic accident will occur due to a quadcopter “dji” interfering with a commercial craft causing it to crash. I have personally seen kids in a park fly a drone within feet of a low flying private plane.
    We MUST get regulation to the access or capabilitis of these craft sooner rather than later.

  10. Those of you who say that multi-rotors are not R/C aircraft, and wish to distance yourself from them are being very short sighted. I’ve flown R/C fixed wing aircraft for 35 years. I’m a licensed pilot and owned a Cessna 175A for 7 years. My wife is a licensed pilot. I’m an AMA member and have been off and on since 1982. I’ve been having a great time the last two years with multi-rotors. In my case, they are all scratch built. It been a challenge to learn my way around the flight control boards and other multi-rotor dedicated electronics. I have been shooting low resolution videos with watch-fob cameras and fixed wing trainer type models. The video shot with with a high definition camera on a multi-rotor is phenomenally better. I also started using FPV with both multi-rotors and fixed wing. In my local club (and the other area clubs) the membership is getting older and older. Unless you are comfortable with R/C aircraft hobby dying a slow and lingering death, you should embrace the multi-rotors and encourage those flying them to use your club facilities, join your clubs, and join the AMA. For every kid interested in flying fixed wing R/C aircraft, there are probably 100 who are fascinated by multi-rotors. I’ve flown some at church, and they are absolute magnets for kids.

    I’m 62 years old and big fan of multi-rotors. You should be too!

  11. Good comment Chuck. I visit the closest Club near me and it’s mainly old guys, like myself, mid 60s. But I am a beginner and only fly electric foamies. They mostly fly IC, balsa planes. Once I have a plane large enough to warrant joining, the club will take on a different flavor and change with the preferences of their new members. There is 1 helo guy there and they have accomodated him. But quads and helos use the field completely differently than planes. Quads & helos use the space more vertically whereas planes use more horizontal space. Yes they go vertical but it from one end to the other. Quads and helos tend to fly within a limited horizontal space. Change can be hard but once you are part of the “club”, you justs by your prescence will cause it to change.

    JB, your idea is great and so obvious, I wish I had thought of it. The local park where I fly didn’t want me there at first. All RC was banned, until I presented the Park Flyer program to them. They realized they needed to provide space for me, for my hobby. As more and more pilots take up the hobby, municipalities will have to accomodate us, if we make our prescence and needs known. If we advocate the already in-place programs and push the SAFETY agenda, maybe the public will become better informed and ‘allow’ us the space we need.

  12. I applaud Governor Brown and the AMA for protecting the interests of US (we pilots, that is, ALL of US). My circumstances are nearly identical to Chuck, who replied before me. Except I just turned 50. Still a kid! Although I have not had any negative experiences with other RC aircraft pilots, it does concern me that the evolution of RC aircraft has created some animosity between other members of our own membership, as evidenced by some of the responses prior to Chuck’s. We need to stand together on this issue. I joined the AMA before I even received my quadcopter last Christmas, as I wanted the support of other flyers to help avoid draconian potential legislation that would have pushed me out of the hobby before I could really begin. So before any of you ‘old timers’ start clamoring for FAA licensing and registration for Chuck, myself, and many other new AMA members, be careful of what you wish for.

Comments are closed.