AMA Membership?


#1

Not long ago I took a trip to an RC club to meet some of the pilots I have watched on their FB page and since I had no idea what to expect, I decided to not take my gear with me.

I got to the field far earlier than expected, so I sat and listened to the old-timers talk and at one point one of the members started asking me about what I flew and if I had my AMA membership, which I said that I didn’t because I fly a 3" quad around my yard which I was rewarded with a bit of a look of disapproval from the gentleman.

When the first quad pilot arrived, I agreed to be a spotter for him and we talked between flights. I learned that I would have to have an AMA membership to fly at the field. Later, when the other pilots arrived I ran the gauntlet of questions that lead to their evaluation that I was ready to go to 5" (a story of it’s own.)

In my mind, it’s hard to justify a membership as I do not fly outside my yard with something that is more prone to be damaged in an impact than to do damage.

This made me wonder, for those who stay in the brushed or micro (1s) brushless, do you maintain an AMA membership?


#2

Coming from fixed wing rc a long time ago, (90’s)
I sought out my local AMA chapter in search of the fledgling Multi-GP in 2016. I met a few guys who flew quads in the chapter. None were interested at the time so after that year I let it expire.
I have a 250 and fly it occasionally. I found my sweet spot w 2” and 2S and my local parks to feed my FPV addiction. I mostly fly by myself and mostly with no one around and it’s peaceful and fulfilling. To each his own…


#3

@SinisterLefty For flying exclusively in your backyard in a rural area, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary. However, for everything else, I think it’s 100 percent worth it to join AMA.

I belong to AMA on principle. As imperfect as AMA may be, I think it’s critical to support the one organization that actively represents our hobby interests. There are many other benefits beyonds that, even for micro pilots.

  • Insurance. This is litigious America. Insurance is a no-brainer.
  • Information. You get a magazine and other materials that help keep you in the loop with broader aspects of the hobby. This may be especially valuable if you fly by yourself, and aren’t automatically exposed to the greater RC world. :wink:
  • Networking. Most organized clubs and events require AMA membership, just for the liability insurance. Think of it as a driver’s license for the RC world. Even if you were driving a tractor on a farm, it couldn’t hurt to know how to drive a car and have a DL for public roads. :wink:
  • Representation. AMA does a lot of lobbying and outreach work at federal, state, and local levels. Their non-confrontational approach to regulators may not suit some multirotor/FPV pilots. However, I personally think what they do is a lot better than nothing at all. Well worth my money, every year!

As usual, YMMV. :wink:

PS: This is from somebody who doesn’t belong to or fly at a club. I guess that makes me a “gypsy flier.” Nonetheless, I think AMA membership is worth it.


#4

As soon you fly anything that’s not a toy you want to have an insurance. Your normal insurance probably wont cover anything.

“NOT A TOY” can happen really quickly. I have a bunch of 69mm quads with 1.5" props and even those are certainly no toys anymore.


#5

I have a funny feeling that the AMA insurance only covers you if you fly at their fields. If you fly at your local park they may deny you like most insurances haha!


#6

Or if you don’t establish a flight line with rope, etc.

I tried to sign up after reading what Brainstorm had to say. Their web site broke when it got to payment and refused to reload, restart, or re-anything, so I’m not currently a member.


#7

Yeah! I do like that they lobby for quads and RC. I just doubt that they’ll cover anything out of their fields.

Also, I took a look at my local field and they regulated quads to a small area with no trees or gates for freestyle… :cry:


#8

That is an interesting point and something worth investigating.


#9

Agreed. I just haven’t looked into their fine print yet.

If it does cover us outside of AMA fields, I would probably get it for sure.


#10

I just emailed them asking this very question and will post the reply when I hear back.


#11

Cool!

Thx!


#12

I found an AMA document that states the following:

Flying models is a safe activity, but sometimes accidents can happen involving people or property. Enjoy peace of mind flying knowing you’re covered with liability, medical, fire and theft insurance. This insurance is an outstanding member benefit that would cost you $1,000 or more to purchase on your own. And you’re covered for whatever type of model aircraft you fly and whether you choose to fly at an AMA club field, park, backyard or wherever. Just fly for recreational fun and operate within the AMA National Model Aviation Safety Code.

It might be a bit of an old document, though, since I can’t find this document on modelaircraft.org anywhere. I assume this bit about “Whatever You Fly. Wherever You Fly. AMA Has You Covered” is correct.

Of course, as with any insurance, you have to follow everything in the safety code to the letter_ or you risk being denied on a technicality. Like, for example, to follow the AMA safety code when flying FPV, you appear to need another AMA member as your spotter: https://www.modelaircraft.org/sites/default/files/550.pdf


#13

Ok, just got word back from Chad at the AMA:

“Good question. Your AMA benefits and insurance are not limited to flying fields. Like you, I fly in my backyard too. Since you’re flying a small drone, I would suggest joining the Park Pilot program, it’s half the price.”


#14

Nice find!
Sounds interesting enough for me to look into as well.
Being covered by a national organization might have some clout if I encounter any resistance by anybody. :+1:


#15

Now, a question for those who race, why would a Park Pilot level not be an acceptable level to take part in a race?


#16

Hmmm maybe I’ll get it then. Especially when I start flying larger quads.


#17

@SinisterLefty Park Pilot provides lower 3rd party liability coverage than full AMA membership. That may be sufficient if you fly a micro in your backyard or at a (empty) local park. However, organizers of any serious FPV racing event will require the higher coverage of full membership (plus FAA registration).

Another difference is that Park Pilot membership has its own, smaller “Park Pilot” magazine. It’s not bad, but the main AMA publication, Model Aviation, has much broader coverage and comes out more often.

PS: Either membership level and its insurance coverage technically requires you to abide by the AMA Safety Code, incl. Document 550 for FPV, which requires a spotter.

I don’t know anyone who’s ever submitted a claim to AMA insurance, so I don’t know how difficult it is to get compensation. However, an accident involving FPV without a spotter might raise some questions, and would be an easy excuse for insurance to deny a claim.

I really wish there was an exemption from the Spotter requirement, especially for sub-250g micro quads and planes. I doubt anybody whoops with a spotter, and I think that’s perfectly safe and reasonable. :smile:


#18

Spotter, roped off flight line, and a couple other things that none of us ever fly with that I don’t remember now.

If it was a $1k claim you might get it, but if it set fire to something and you put in a $2 million chaim? Forget it.


#19

Another factor is that AMA insurance is secondary to any other insurance you may have, e.g. homeowners insurance.

All that said, that’s the way the (insurance) world works. Many activities require insurance, like owning and driving a car, or flying model aircraft in competition. Unfortunately, you never know for sure what insurance will cover until you submit an actual claim. :frowning:


#20

Very true!
Even if there’s a 50/50 it’s denied that’s better than not having it to begin with.

I still intend to sign up, just not with my phone browser :smiley: