Meet AMA President Rich Hanson

Written by Rich Hanson
Monthly column
As seen in the Winter 2017 issue of
Park Pilot.

Watch our interview with Rich Hanson

Meet the new AMA President

As the new president of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, I would like to welcome you to Park Pilot. AMA’s Park Pilot Program was established approximately 10 years ago and has proven extremely successful in providing new hobby enthusiasts with an economical entry into model aviation, as well as introducing traditional modelers to the world of small and responsive RC model aircraft.

Today’s small, lightweight model aircraft are known as park flyers and are made possible by the innovative developments in microelectronics. These aircraft have proven to be capable and reliable platforms, and with today’s advanced flight systems, make it extremely easy for new modelers to learn how to fly safely and responsibly.

By AMA’s definition, park flyers weigh 2 pounds or less, are incapable of exceeding 60 mph, and glide silently on the ambient air currents or operate on quiet propulsion systems such as electric motors. Park flyers are predominantly made of frangible materials, operate at low kinetic energy levels, present minimal risks to persons and property, and are well suited for operation in parks, sports complexes, backyards, and other suitable community areas.

Although park flyers present low risks, all modelers are responsible for operating their aircraft safely. Park pilots must fly their park flyers in a responsible and community-friendly manner, and use common sense and good judgment.

The AMA has developed a simple set of safety guidelines as part of its community-based safety programming. A complete set of guidelines can be found on the AMA website at

The basic safety principles for operating model aircraft begin with selecting a safe place to fly. When choosing a suitable flying location, be sure there is enough room to safely operate the aircraft you wish to fly. Check with local authorities to be sure there are no prohibitions to the operation of unmanned aircraft in that area.

Ensure that you do not interfere with, and remain well clear of, manned aircraft operations. If flying within 5 miles of an airport, notify the airport operator or the control tower, if one exists, before flying your model aircraft.

When operating your park flyer, always keep your aircraft within your visual line of sight. Remain a safe distance from people, pets, and other property that could get hurt. Do not deliberately fly near or over people or moving vehicles. Do not fly any higher than is necessary to operate safely. As a general rule, remain below 400 feet above the ground.

Flying responsibly also means being aware of your surroundings, being attentive to changes in your operating environment, and being sensitive and considerate of the safety and expectations of others.

--Rich Hanson


Add your thoughts to the article

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.