What do you need to know before you fly your Recreational Drone?

To answer this question, we look to an organization with a long-history with remote controlled aircraft.  Chad Budreau is the Director of Public Affairs and Government Affairs for the Academy of Model Aeronautics. The AMA is the world’s largest community-based organization of 200,000 UAS enthusiasts organized for the purpose of promotion, development, education, advancement, and safeguarding of modeling activities. In this edition of the Drone Radio Show, Chad talks about the AMA and its mission, what it means to fly responsibly and how the organization has responded to the growth of the consumer drone industry.

In This Episode

  • About the Academy of Model Aeronautics. The AMA has been in existence since 1936. There was a group of hobbyists who met and decided to form a group of people who were enthusiastic about this model aeronautics. That small group has grown into more than 200,000 members today. There are 2,600 clubs across the country, which provide a safe place for members to fly model aeronautics.
  • Know Before You Fly. Chad talks about the Know Before You Fly program to inform recreational drone operators on how to fly responsibly. He mentions some of the major rules, such as don’t fly beyond visual line of sight, don’t fly in high winds, stay away from stadiums, etc. The rules are rather universal regardless if it’s a palm sized drone flies indoors versus maybe a more sophisticated UAV, like a DJI Phantom
  • Partnerships. Chad talks about how the AMA partners with other organizations, like Multi GP, to reach more people with the message of flying safe and responsibly.
  • Local Concerns. Chad comments on the concerns that many local and state officials have about privacy and trespassing and drones. He feels education can play a role in addressing concerns, and through its more than 200,000 members across the country, the AMA works with local governments.
  • Education Efforts. Know Before You Fly has over two hundred manufacturers who have committed to promote the program on their website and in their packaging. Many retailers promote Know Before You Fly at the point of sale or something printed on the receipt.  The FAA created a UAS Safety Team which meets quarterly to work collectively on finding ways to better educate the public.
  • AMA Initiatives. Chad talks about a few of the initiatives that the AMA has planned, including looking at ways to support recreational users that may be crossing over to commercial use and vice-versa; commercial users that want to add recreational flying. The AMA is also partnering with Dart Drones to create a training program for emergency responders.
  • From RC Planes to Drones. Although it may seem like a radical shift for the AMA to accommodate drones, Chad reminds us that the AMA has had a long history of integrating new model aeronautics. At the start of the organization, there were no RC planes, only free flight and later tethered control aircraft. So the introduction of drones into the industry is not the first time the AMA has been exposed to a radical game changer technology. The next step if how the AMA can continue to provide benefits to all members, regardless of the platform they choose to fly.
  • AMA Membership. Chad discusses how one becomes a member of the AMA and the relationship to local AMA clubs.
  • Continuing Issues. Things are changing. People are no longer able to pick up a model aircraft at their nearest retailer and plug in the batteries and take off and fly with only a vague idea of the rules. People will need to be held accountable and ensure they are properly informed on the rules and requirements.
  • Closing. Eighty years of experience gives the AMA a lot of knowledge and lessons learned that can benefit recreational users and the drone industry itself.

Mentioned Links