Just to keep you informed about AMA policy, I have some recent data.

I was planning on a demo flight of the UAV DevBoard at an RC club fun fly. We checked with the AMA to see if I could do that. I explained that the flights were going to be electronically assisted, not autonomous. I planned to maintain visual contact, stay below 400 feet, and the control signals would be a blend of control from MatrixPilot plus the stick inputs. First AMA said no, then they gave approval, and finally they grounded me, saying the AMA insurance would not cover me or the club during the fun fly if I did any flying.

Best regards,
Bill Premerlani

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I live in North Texas and none of the AMA clubs within reasonable driving distance of my home town will take on new student R/C pilots. Therefore those of us in my area have formed our own club and fly, with permission, over cow pastures where we do not need insurance. To some extent the AMA and associated clubs are a bunch of self-serving snobs. They do provide insurance, if you are a member, but if they will not take on new members what is the point?

Just a thought.
Hi Thomas,

That is news to me about AMA clubs not taking on new student R/C pilots. It would seem to me that to keep the hobby alive, they need new pilots.

I look around at the member of my club, there are not many young ones, so I wonder what the future of the club will be.

I certainly understand the insurance issues. The probability of something going wrong is remote, especially if you are flying at a remote location, but the AMA is not in a position to check out every flying site and underwrite it.

Many of the features of MatrixPilot actually improves flight safety.

I heard rumors that there was an incident recently involving an RC model flying at a 1 mile altitude that has made the AMA and FAA very cautious. Have you heard anything about it?


I'm sorry to hear about your experience with your local clubs. However I think I should point out that AMA has nothing to do with local clubs policies regarding enrollment. Quite the contrary AMA has programs specifically designed to promote the hobby with newcomers and to improve the safety of the instructor/student relationship. I am a member of two local clubs, and an officer of one. I would encourage you to take your club and seek the assistance of the AMA in chartering an officially sanctioned flying site. Perhaps the clubs in your area are a "bunch of self-serving snobs", but I assure you that's not the case here up north in District II. Good luck with your projects, and happy flying!



Thank you for your input. I will look into becoming sanctioned.

Hi Nathan,

I see you are in Keene Valley, we are both living in the "great northeast", both in District II.

Perhaps you are informed well enough that you could clarify the insurance rules. Could you take a look at the attachment to my posting and see if you can figure out what the problem was? Why do you suppose the AMA grounded my flights, even though my flight plan complied with rule 9?

Also, I am now a little worried that I have created a problem for the flying club that I just recently joined. Under AMA rules, am I allowed to fly my UAV DevBoard at the club if I comply with rule 9?

As a member of AMA, am I even allowed to fly my UAV DevBoard at all?

Do I need to drop out of the AMA and my local club if I want to continue with this hobby?

Best regards,
Bill Premerlani

First let me say thanks to you for all the great work that you do to improve our great hobby. I am disheartened by reading your e-mail. I also feel that the way AMA rule 9 is written, we are in compliance. I have been operating under that alube?
I also live in the upstate NY area and was planning on attending a Fly-In at the Malone Aero-modelers field tomorrow. Although there wasn't a formal demonstration planned, I always attract a lot of attention wherever I go with my ArduPilot equipped Sr. Telemaster. I am always more than happy to take the time to explain the technology, and to demonstrate the capabilities. I always focus on the systems ability to improve safety when introducing inexperienced pilots to the joy of RC Aviation. It's a shame that fear of the unknown by some bean-counter could send our hobby into the dark corners of the state. It appears that the folks at AMA are open to the use of autopilots as rule 9 is written, and as we interpret it. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the underwriter balked at the term "autonomous". I'll be very interested to hear what becomes of this. Please keep us posted on your correspondence.

Just as a side note you might want to edit out the To: and CC: fields so your not spreading those e-mail addresses around. On second thought it might be good for AMA to hear what respectful, rule abiding, safety conscious AMA members think about this subject :)

Best Regards,

AMA District II High Peaks RC club VP, Keene Valley,NY (about 100 miles North of Albany, near Lake Placid)
For anyone interested in this issue, and that means anyone flying here in the USA, I have attached a copy of the Academy of Model Aeronautics National Model Aircraft Safety Code. The rule that Bill is having an issue with, and the one that effects us all weather or not you are an AMA member, is section B rule 9. It's interesting to note that the copy available on the AMA site,, (the same one I have posted here) isn't effective until January 1, 2011. I can't put my hands on a previous copy right now, however I believe the rule is the same. What is your opinion?



Hi Bill,

I'm slightly confused. Rule #9 from the AMA web site reads:

9. The pilot of a RC model aircraft shall:
(a) Maintain control during the entire flight, maintaining visual contact without enhancement other than by corrective lenses prescribed for the pilot.
(b) Fly using the assistance of a camera or First-Person View (FPV) only in accordance with the procedures outlined in AMA Document #550.

Perhaps it is the "return to launch" capability they are concerned about? If you programmed your system to spin out of control when you lose contact with the transmitter, would you then be in compliance with the AMA safety code?

I didn't see them explain why the FMA copilot is legal? How are the new flybarless stabilization systems for RC helicopters then legal? These are even used in aerobatic competitions.

I have both the FMA Copilot I & II and they are only attitude control devices. The Ardupilot can maintain both attitude and bearing (direction) without operator intervention. The Copilot system does not influence aircraft bearing (direction) which is always under the control of the operator.

I have been pushing this issue on the AMA forum to no avail, most everything gets censored. Apparently a fully autonomous freeflight model is ok and much safer than the same aircraft with a capabilty for a human over-ride RC system.
The problem is that the AMA rules are nothing more than an insurance company policy statement.
Secondary to that is there is not a definition of "autonomous" to be had. Rules are useless when the words can be any meaning you claim them to be.

Ditch the RC and call it a freeflight model and it seems you are good to go. If not they need to strip every FF champion and record holder of their titles because they all use on-board autonomous control and navigation devices.
Hee hee. Free flight model with R/C emergency override. :)
I agree. They've tied themselves up in definitional knots. At this point, they're so worried about the FAA that they risk losing sight of the hobby's future. I have some sympathy, because they really could be slammed by the FAA, but the most likely outcome is irrelevance.

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