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AMA Executive Vide President Mark Smith
This is my last column as your executive vice president because I’m stepping down from the Executive Council at the end of 2011. I’ve been handling the duties of president since Dave Mathewson moved to AMA’s executive director position earlier this year.

Filling Dave’s shoes for only a few months was challenging and satisfying. I learned so much! But now it’s time for me to step aside.

As I write this, the voting is ongoing, so I don’t know who will be our next president, but I do know this: the ensuing months/years will present the new leadership team with many opportunities and challenges and the new board of directors will need your guidance and support.

It’s been my deep and sincere pleasure to work with these people and the rest of our leadership since I joined the Executive Council in 2005. We have accomplished much together, not the least of which was implementing term limits for EC members. I firmly believe we have a vast amount of talent and willing individuals in our 143,000 members and we need to do all we can to enhance and refresh that pipeline of leadership.

AMA members need to know that they have also been well served by the many volunteers and staff members who have worked long and tirelessly to represent all of us in the face of pending FAA regulations on model aircraft.

We don’t know how this will turn out, but again, I do know that our best and brightest have been on task to make sure that those coming restrictions are either rejected or minimized to the greatest extent possible. When the call to protest comes in the next few months, please be ready to respond!

We have many volunteers who deserve recognition. There are more than a dozen committees working on your behalf, attending meetings, conducting research, handling paperwork, and doing all of the “heavy lifting” on a national scale so that you can head out to your local flying site and, well, have fun.

Frankly, it’s been a labor of love, and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to help AMA in any way I could.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that we have a tremendous staff. Sure, they’re overworked and underpaid, as are most nonprofit workers, but they, too, labor with a love for aeromodeling and all who pursue it. Please, whenever you can and as often as you can, thank a staff member, because we couldn’t do what we want to do without them.

We celebrated our 75th year in 2011. Our celebrations throughout the year, and especially this past summer, were replete with stories and accolades that go back to the Golden Age of Aviation right up to the present. Generations of Americans—hundreds of thousands of people—have joined, competed, learned, and just had great fun flying model aircraft. Our diamond anniversary has been a significant milestone.

The future, too, is bright for the Academy of Model Aeronautics. We are quickly entering a Golden Age of unmanned flight and AMA is poised to be one of its most influential players. Please do all you can to support AMA in this quest to become increasingly relevant in all aspects of aviation. We are, after all, the incubator—the starting point for virtually all professionals in aviation and aerospace.

Me? I’ll be back in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, enjoying life with my lovely wife, Ruth. If you are ever in our neck of the woods, please consider stopping by because we consider all of you friends.

It’s been a privilege to serve you. MA

Mark Smith
AMA Executive Vice President

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