It should surprise no one on planet Earth or anywhere else with ready access to the Internet that we are strongly endorsing Rich Hanson to serve as the next president of the Academy of Model Aeronautics. I personally came to know Rich five years ago, when the Roswell Flight Test Crew was still a new endeavor.
Some wrong-headed legislation got started here in Oregon which would have criminalized owning a drone, and made actually flying one a felony. I had joined the AMA shortly after beginning my RC flying career as a novice drone enthusiast, and had vaguely recalled reading somewhere that they had a Government and Regulatory Affairs program.
Looking for help, I called up the AMA and asked to speak with someone working in that department. Well, it's a pretty small department, so I soon found myself on the phone with Rich. He explained that, given the status of the bill in the legislature and the rising threat from similar bills all over the United States, the AMA wouldn't be able to get directly involved until or unless it moved considerably closer to passage.
That could have been disappointing, if he had not at the same time laid out some practical steps that we could take ourselves, along with other drone and model aviation enthusiasts here in Oregon. The rest is, as they say, history: we turned back the bill and something far more reasonable and realistic was ultimately passed, and we emerged from the experience as a respected voice here in our home state regarding the issue of drones.
Rich didn't give us a fish – he taught us to fish and encouraged us to keep after it until we'd landed one, and we did. That's real leadership: not trying to do everything yourself, but empowering others to accomplish the task themselves. Thank you for that, Rich, and everything else you have done: inviting us to join the AMA's SUAS Advisory Group, serving as a judge for our Drone Prize event in 2014, speaking alongside us at conferences and events all over the country – and always encouraging us to be our best.
I briefly outlined Rich's qualifications in the video above, and you'll be hearing more about them from us in coming days – but for the moment let me simply say this: he is the most qualified individual seeking the presidency of the AMA this year, period. Please, join us in supporting him and make sure you mail in your completed ballot to the AMA by November 8.