AMA and Its Partners Help Shape Law

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021 has become law. This new law is important because it includes an educational provision that allows operations as part of an educational program that is chartered by a community-based organization (CBO), such as AMA, or as an established Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (JROTC) program for educational or research purposes.

A Civil Air Patrol cadet times for a pilot at the 2020 RC Combat Nats.

In fall 2019, the AMA Education, Government Affairs, and Partnership and Sales departments met with an official from the U.S. Air Force JROTC at AMA Headquarters in Muncie, Indiana. Several topics were discussed. After this meeting, talks with U.S. Air Force JROTC officials continued, eventually leading to AMA and JROTC signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on December 23, 2020. A portion of the MOU states, “The purpose of this MOU is to formalize the relationship between these two organizations, and to collaborate on programs that nurture and support the growth of aviation education and youth development while being respectful of each organization’s mission. This cooperation will include setting of mutual goals, program development, promotion, and operational review.”

The JROTC is a military-regulated program designed to offer high school students leadership experiences and motivate them through a combination of classroom instruction, community service, extracurricular and social activities, and the opportunity to serve in leadership roles.

If you read through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), you will notice that the JROTC is mentioned in it. After the bill was first proposed, JROTC worked with AMA and Congress on this provision.

“As far as advocacy, having a strong relationship with both the JROTC and Civil Air Patrol (CAP) really furthers our cause,” AMA Education Director Kyle Jaracz commented. “If an issue arises, if legislation is proposed, we have the open channels of communication to address that as a unified front, rather than as an individual entity.”

“While lawmakers are familiar with both AMA and JROTC, joining forces makes us an even louder voice,” stated AMA Government Affairs Director Tyler Dobbs.

The CAP is also a military entity that teaches leadership, aerospace sciences, fitness, and character building.

Kyle, Tyler, and other AMA officials are happy with how the NDAA turned out. “That would have been a major concern in terms of our educational mission,” Kyle stated about the original bill. “AMA and others in the industry worked to remove language restricting JROTC and other government entities from purchasing and using foreign-made UAS.” The original bill included a provision prohibiting federal agencies, such as the JROTC and the CAP, from using foreign-made UAS and UAS equipment in the US. This would have included model aircraft.

As part of the NDAA, university-level UAS operations, such as University Model Aviation Student Clubs (UMASC), will continue to be permitted within CBO programming or as a standalone UAS program.

According to the AMA’s blog post about the NDAA being passed, “AMA’s success in getting these legislative protections included are a great win for UAS STE(A)M curriculum because it allows for the continuation of educational UAS programming that has been in place for decades.”

If you didn’t already know it, education is an important part of AMA’s mission. As many AMA members have proven, aeromodeling can be a steppingstone to careers in the full-scale aviation industry. Teenagers looking to learn more about the aerospace industry often start with model aircraft through the JROTC or CAP.

“The Civil Air Patrol is a great organization,” Kyle stated. “It is financed by Department of Defense funding (through the U.S. Air Force) for the most part. The AMA and CAP have had a long history. The CAP really enjoys bringing AMA into its units. It has depended upon the AMA for years now to recommend aircraft for the organization to use—fixed wing, multirotor, and Free Flight. It has a grant process on its end where units can apply for these training aids. We make those kits for them and send them out. We’re happy to get aircraft in the hands of kids. It’s a good partnership that we’ve developed,” Kyle added.

Kyle explained that the CAP units use the aircraft in conjunction with aviation education. The cadets learn the basics of flight, participate in team aircraft building, and use flight simulators. Some of the units travel to model aviation club fields, flying sites, and classrooms in an effort to interest other youth in aviation. “It’s something that definitely encourages a love of aviation,” Kyle said.

CAP units have helped out at the AMA Nats. Nearly each summer, CAP cadets can be found at the RC Combat event, where they time for the pilots and cook meals for them.

AMA’s relationship with CAP has a long history. In January 2011, AMA signed a MOU with the CAP. Later that year, AMA members were asked to support the CAP in its effort to get World War II volunteers recognized with a group Congressional Gold Medal.

Some AMA members have mentioned being linked with CAP in their AMA History Project biographies. Alvin Davis, for example, began working for the CAP in 1942 and his job was to promote model aviation among its cadets.

Today, educating youth about the hobby is something that continues in the CAP, JROTC, and through the EAA. “We can all mutually support each other,” Kyle noted. “We all have a goal of enjoying aviation. That mission is one that is shared, offering education and inspiration that furthers the cause of aviation for the entire country.”

In the MOU that AMA signed with the U.S. Air Force JROTC, it is stated that “AMA has a mission to foster and promote all phases of model aviation and community, and the Air Force JROTC has a mission to develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community.”

If you are part of the JROTC or CAP and would like to team up with an AMA club, use the club finder.


  1. For the last two years our RC club in Northern Colorado has teamed up with the Fort Collins CAP squadron to have a CAP fly day. Both years we had 10+ cadets team up with our club members on Buddy Boxes for a fun day of flying including a Hamburger Lunch. We have 3 CAP cadets that have joined our club. Additionally our club has a sponsorship program where junior members can join with no cost including AMA dues.

  2. Excellent. I’ll be there to help. Many years ago, I gave RC flight instruction to 20 C.A.P. cadets, along with the three officers in charge. Two were airline pilots.

    One time I spent 7 hours giving 100 cub scouts flight instruction, so I know I can provide training to quite a few people.

    Way to go Kyle

  3. Good for AMA. However, this much needed bill also added another attack by the political socialistic reformers who continue to wage war against our country and it’s history. For example, the bill includes the Commission on the “re-naming” of items of the Department of Defense that commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America. These socialists keep chipping away at our history and it only serves to promote their agenda (ie, a kinder, gentler socialism) and that is one of the reasons President Trump vetoed the bill. The socialism that is influencing our countrymen is packaged attractively as a movement toward national unity when in reality it is a renewal of class antagonism. Socialism never produces wealth; it destroys value and our leaders in Washington are being fooled by their rhetoric.

  4. I also was in the CAP a long time ago, graduated from a military academy, and flew combat aircraft in combat. I have been flying powered models since the 1950’s. I abhor the socialist tilt my country is taking. I take objection with the AMA’s spin on how “well” they did with the FAA. The FAA had the AMA for lunch, and the AMA leadership was pretty useless against the FAA. There is no logical reason that classic RC models should have ever been included in these regulations and model ID. Drones are a different story. I lobbied hard to get the AMA leadership to fight the FAA on RC model inclusion,but they (Rich Hanson) said they wanted to keep it “friendly”, and you can see where we are today. The FAA is out of control and will continue to bully the AMA as it wants. There is an old saying in the flying world, “The FAA is not your friend”. AMA leadership should have realized that in 2017 when this mess started. I speak from long experience of dealing with the FAA over a 42 year professional flying career flying everything from Piper Cubs to F4 Phantoms.

  5. Herb Johnson is exactly correct. The FAA is NOT your friend. I worked with them back in the early 2000’s when we we developing UAV flight ops and trying to obtain Airworthiness Certificates for our small UAV’s so we could conduct flight testing in the NAS and not have to continually operate out of restricted airspace. They were clueless then and they are clueless now about how small UAS should be managed. They have not learned anything in the past 15 years. And their plan to lump ALL unmanned aircraft together is typical of them. The FAA wants to put everything in neat boxes and they want to treat UAS like they do manned aircraft. It can’t work that way. Categorizing recreational RC aircraft, operated within LOS, with no autonomous control or any remote vision operational capability should have been exempted. Tha AMA should have fought this HARD, but they rolled over, capitulated and BELIEVED that the FAA would ‘do the right thing’. Well you see where that got us. Again, let me re-iterate….THE FAA IS NOT YOUR FRIEND!!!. To believe so is folly. Ask anyone who has dealt with government agencies (FDA, ATF, FBI, etc.), they are not there to ‘help’ you. Unfortunately, the path is set now. Once the regs are in place it’s going to take, literally, an act of congress, to get them changed. The halcyon days of traditional RC are over. The barrier to entry has been raised considerably and only hurts the future generations of kids who want to learn, explore and have fun doing so.

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