Former AMA President David “Dave” Brown passed away October 28, 2023, following a brief illness at his home in Seminole, Florida, and surrounded by family members. He was just shy of his 78th birthday.
Dave was AMA’s 22nd president from 1996 to 2008. Under his leadership, AMA made significant improvements to the International Aeromodeling Center (IAC) in Muncie, Indiana, including construction of a new headquarters building, and saw an increase in AMA membership.
Dave’s achievements in the model aviation industry were especially noteworthy, in particular the introduction of the first RC flight simulator in 1985, just a few years after founding Dave Brown Products near Cincinnati.
As a competitor, he excelled as well. In 1974, he was among the first to be invited to fly in the prestigious Tournament of Champions (TOC) in Las Vegas, participating in 10 TOCs and placing in the top three in eight of the events.
He was a member of five world championship teams, taking home three individual silver medals and one bronze.
Dave attended and won in several AMA Nats categories, and later said he thought he had competed in in close to 250 competitions throughout his aeromodeling career.
Dave also played an important role in Maynard Hill’s cross-Atlantic flight, with a team flying an RC aircraft, TAM-5 (“The Spirit of Butt’s Farm”), from Newfoundland to Ireland in 2003. He landed the aircraft once it reached land. He said that being a part of that team was one of his fondest memories and accomplishments.
District III Vice President Mark Radcliff had this to say:
“The model aviation world has lost another legend. Dave Brown, past AMA president and world-class flier, has passed away. Dave was like a father and brother to me. Dave took me under his wing when I was an up-and-coming Pattern flier.
“Dave was instrumental in me working in the model industry at World Engines in Cincinnati. Together we made each other better fliers and eventually we were on four USA Pattern teams together. We won gold for the United States on those teams.
“Without Dave and his wonderful wife Sally, I never would have achieved the success I had in flying competition. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of the good times we had together.”
To learn more about Dave, you can read his autobiography in the AMA History Project archives. You can also read more in the April 2008 Model Aviation article about an event held that year to honor his many achievements.
Dave received two AMA Meritorious Service awards, became an AMA Fellow in 2000, and was accepted into the AMA Model Aviation Hall of Fame in 2008.
That same year, Dave and Sally were awarded AMA’s first HOPE (Hall of Fame Partners Extraordinaire Award, which honors those who support their partners in model aviation activities.
Post retirement, Dave continued to serve AMA by representing the organization in various capacities with the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) executive committee, the National Aeronautic Association, and CIAM (the FAI Aermodeling Commission).
The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Look for a more in-depth retrospective of AMA’s 22nd president in a future issue of Model Aviation magazine.