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Visit to the Academy of Model Aeronautics (in the Remnants of Sandy)


By Trevor Janz, EAA 656941
EAA Manager of Chapters and Eagle Flights

November 27, 2012 - Considering we would be flying over Lake Michigan, we loaded up the Piper Aztec for another Grassroots Pilot Tour. This time we were off to Indianapolis, Indiana. Sean Elliott (vice president of advocacy and safety), Jeff Skiles (vice president of chapters and youth education), Brian O'Lena (manager of Young Eagles and Pathways), and I lifted off from Oshkosh into heavy winds, clouds, and whatever else was left of Hurricane Sandy.

Milwaukee approach finally gave us the "cleared on course," giving us about a 40-knot tailwind. Sure did not take long to arrive on the localizer at Indianapolis. Even with a stiff crosswind, Jeff did a great job getting the Aztec safely on the ground. It must be all that flying experience of his.

EAA Chapter 900 at Indianapolis hosted our Grassroots Pilot Tour. Thank you to the fine folks at the Vincennes University for providing a very nice classroom at their Indianapolis International Airport (KIND) campus. As we walked into the Vincennes student break area, there was the smell of hot apple cider and I realized why the No. 1 word for why people are chapter members is camaraderie. I always enjoy this part of our trip, meeting the chapter members and hearing about their projects and how things are going with their chapters in that particular part of the country.

Dave Clark (EAA 71411 and Vintage 9581) gave us a very nice tour. In retirement, he teaches some of the A&P courses at the college. He was proud to show us the Boeing 737 that was donated to the college for the A&P students to do inspections and learn maintenance on heavy iron.

There were several other chapters that attended from the Indianapolis area along with Warbirds Squadron 3. We sure do appreciate the opportunity to meet all of you and be able to talk with you before and after the presentation.

The next morning, it was off to Muncie, Indiana (KMIE), to meet with the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). Hurricane Sandy gave us IFR and rain on the way, but we broke out at about 600 feet AGL. After landing we parked at Muncie Aviation, one of the longest-running FBOs in the country. The Muncie airport also has a very nice restaurant; too bad we did not have the time. Keep this in mind when flying near Muncie.

I was very impressed at the AMA facility, grounds (more than 1,500 acres), and their museum. Their grounds resemble a small AirVenture each summer, and I was told just about every weekend, with AMA members and guests flying all kinds of R/C aircraft. The museum reminded me that the Wright brothers began their research with several model aircraft.

I personally have always flown "full-scale" aircraft. (The AMA folks appreciate it very much when you do not say "real aircraft" - R/C aircraft are indeed real aircraft, just smaller.) During the tour and seeing many different examples of model aircraft, I got excited and realized R/C aircraft building and flying would be a lot of fun and affordable. Many pilots of full-scale aircraft get their start in aviation by building and flying model aircraft and most continue flying both. Model aircraft can keep you involved in aviation, no matter what your age.

Meeting with the AMA, we realized that EAA and AMA need to work together more. There have been several EAA chapters that have reached out to their local AMA chapter already and have AMA members attend their Young Eagles rallies. While the kids are waiting to take their Young Eagles ride, they can fly the R/C aircraft with AMA instructors with dual controls. With more than 2,000 chapters, there is an AMA chapter near you. You can find them at the AMA website. They also have videos online of EAA chapter events with AMA members attending. The AMA can also work with your members, no matter what age, on starting to build a model that can eventually lead to helping or building their very own full-scale aircraft. Several of our chapters have R/C build nights.

Here at EAA we look forward to continuing to work with the AMA to grow participation in aviation. Working with your local AMA chapter is an excellent idea to add a new activity to your chapter and also grow your chapter. Kids and adults both can get started with building an R/C aircraft and gain the skills for full-scale. Visit the AMA website today and contact them. I want to thank the fine folks at AMA for their hospitality and enthusiasm for all things aviation.

We are planning several Grassroots Pilot Tour stops for 2013 and taking the Chapter Leaders Academy on the road as well. We will keep you posted.

P.S. When you have the chance please check out this AMA video.

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