For some folks in the FPV and amateur drone community, the Academy of Model Aeronautics has not always been viewed as a friend. I've been arguing for a while that this is changing, but now I've got video evidence, straight from the mouth of AMA President Bob Brown:
Techinstein and I have been members of the AMA almost from the beginning of our madcap adventure, but apart from writing checks and receiving a copy of Model Aviation magazine in the mail, we really had no contact with the organization.
That changed abruptly earlier this year, when Oregon Senate Bill 71 emerged as a serious threat to FPV flying and all other forms of RC flying. I happened to remember that the AMA had a Government Affairs section and having some modest understanding of the legislative process from my days as a newspaperman, I knew we needed professional help.
I contacted the AMA and in short order I was talking to Rich Hanson, the organization's government affairs representative. He gave us some good advice and addressed a packed meeting of PDXDrones via Skype, answering questions from the community.
Working together, we eventually managed to kill SB 71 and ensure that House Bill 2710, which ultimately passed, held all hobby RC flying harmless and limited the damage it caused to the professional UAS industry in Oregon.
Following that victory, we stayed in touch with the AMA. It was immediately clear to us that these were not the monsters that we'd heard other FPVers railing about in online forums. In fact, Rich and his colleagues wanted to learn about FPV and what we thought the community would want from an organization like the AMA.
Then, one day, we received a letter on AMA stationery, formally inviting us to join the organization's sUAS Advisory Group. We were honored and, truth be told, a little shocked – especially given the caliber of the other folks who were on the list.
The group began meeting by teleconference once every two weeks. Now we're talking every week and I can tell you based on those conversations at the very highest level of the AMA that the organization is 100 percent committed to supporting FPV.
Need some additional evidence? Check out the December issue of Model Aviation – we got a sneak peak earlier today. You will see several articles (including one by yours truly) on the subject, as well as a strong letter from President Bob Brown, re-stating the position he offered in our video.
This doesn't mean we get to go crazy and start flying multirotors all over Manhattan 30 stories above the pavement. It means that we have been given our rightful place in a fellowship that stretches back 77 years and laid the groundwork for everything that we are doing today.
Now, we become the beneficiaries – and the stewards – of that legacy. Having been invited to sit at the grown-up table, we can't start flicking peas at people.
This is the moment to show our true character as responsible, safe and generous members of a larger community. Besides, someday we'll be the old cranks sitting in the folding chairs out at the flying field, complaining about these crazy kids and their Rubidium-polymer battery powered nano ornithopter swarms – we might as well start paying it forward right now.