myth of a conflict
Some believe that the rise of FPV flying has transformed the world of model aviation into a battleground—a war fought by two opposing factions, each convinced that the
other is a threat to the hobby.
On one side of this conflict are the “traditional”
aeromodelers—hidebound, impervious to change, and forever
shaking their fists at the march of technological progress.
Opposing them is the FPV community—a coalition of upstarts
and rogues bent on destroying model aviation through their
reckless high jinks.
Many people have relied on this notion for the past few years
to understand changes taking place in the hobby. It is easy to
understand, it offers a compelling narrative, and it’s completely
Aeromodelers’ attitudes, especially AMA members, are more
nuanced and insightful than many give them credit for. I have
some numbers and a couple of charts to prove it.
One in Eight
In preparing a benefits program for FPV and semiautonomous
pilots, AMA commissioned the Membership Corporation
of America to create an online survey to better understand
attitudes about FPV and other aspects of small Unmanned
Aircraft Systems (sUAS) operations among AMA members and
the FPV community.
The survey began in early December, with links on the AMA’s
website, many well-known online forums, the Drone User
Group Network, and the Roswell Flight Test Crew’s blog. A
total of 3,665 people responded, including 2,625 current AMA
members, 314 former AMA members, and 904 modelers who
have never been AMA members.
The first question on the survey demolished the notion that a
typical AMA member resembles the “traditional” aeromodeler
caricature: an irredeemable foe of FPV flying.
Among current AMA members, 12% (approximately one
in eight) had no interest or opposed the development of
FPV and related programs. However, among that group, 62%
said that they would be willing to try it.
Only 37% agreed with the statement, “These technologies
have nothing to do with model aviation and represent a
threat.” The other 63% demonstrated more permissive
What I took from this is that a fraction of AMA members
have serious concerns about this new technology’s potential
impact on the hobby, but only a fraction of that fraction is close-minded on the issue.
If current AMA members are not opponents of new,
advanced technology flight modes, what are their attitudes? To
put it plainly, they’re interested. A majority of them—72%—
come from conventional model aviation backgrounds but are
intrigued by this new technology.
Of that majority, nearly 74% agreed with the statement,
“Model aviation is a significant hobby for me and I’m always
looking for new ways to enjoy it.” Another 18% said, “Model
aviation is one of many hobbies, and this technology excites me
to do more with model aviation.”
Among current AMA members who come from a
“traditional” aeromodeling background, a huge proportion of
them view the advent of FPV and other advanced systems as a
positive development that will enhance their participation in
These are skilled, savvy operators. More than 60% of them
have some first-hand experience with these systems, and more
than one in five of them own a system of his or her own and
regularly flies it.
97 Model Aviation MAY 2014
ADVANCED FLIGHT TECHNOLOGIES