AMA President Bob Brown and AMA Executive Director Dave Mathewson met with FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) officials this past weekend at the International Aeromodeling Center (IAC), in Muncie, Indiana.
Dr. John Grubbström, FAI President, and Bob Henderson, FAI Executive Director, toured the AMA and IAC facilities, met AMA staff, and attended the 2012 International Radio-Controlled Helicopter (IRCHA) Jamboree, known as the largest RC helicopter event.
The main purpose of their visit, however, was to listen to AMA officials’ concerns and philosophies. The pair also wanted to present the AMA new and exciting information about opportunities for aeromodeling competitions, and the great possibilities that could result in the two organizations working together.
Dr. Grubbström said that the creation and development of new and exciting things has had a positive effect on the aviation and air sports communities.
FAI officials are aware that their organization is European-oriented, but by taking on a more global view, they hope to get the US on board. They hope to gradually modernize with more marketing and the use of the Internet and social media, as well as technology such as onboard cameras and video. He noted that there is still the serious side of work—the fight against regulations. This is also a burden to the AMA, but the plan is to educate, preserve, and promote air sports for the future.
Henderson has been appointed chairman of the newly created shareholder company, FAI Air Sports Marketing and Events (FAME). Based in Switzerland, the goal of this company is to create new air/aviation sports and events, and to promote aviation by making these sports and events more visible to the public.
Using classical competition to attract the public has not worked as intended, but by creating exciting “niches” (such as the IRCHA Jamboree and the excitement of 3-D helicopter flying) and bringing on global and well-known sponsors such as Swiss watch company Breitling, FAME will have the capability to market and promote (both full-scale and aeromodeling) worldwide at events such as football games, auto races, or even sports television.
Dr. Grubbström and Henderson were extremely impressed with the IAC flying field and AMA facilities.
“The facilities are amazing. I am impressed by the diversity, the facilities, the leadership, the office staff, and the museum,” Dr. Grubbström said.
They were so impressed by the museum that they have decided to nominate the National Model Aviation Museum as an FAI recommended museum. This program recognizes museums around the world that educate the public about aeronautics and aviation, especially children.
Both officials also were impressed by the way AMA has conducted government relations actions and dealt with red-tape issues, as well as how memberships are handled.
After visiting the grounds of the IRCHA Jamboree event, and seeing how pilots—young and old—attended from around the world, Dr. Grubbström stated, “It’s an eye opener. We are here to serve and can see more clearly how we can help the AMA. It has been a very positive meeting with Bob Brown and Dave Mathewson.”
An invitation to the FAI to hold its executive board meetings at the IAC has been extended for next year.