Camp AMA 2022

Bringing teens together to fly and learn

What makes this hobby so spectacular? Is it the multitude of flight types in which you can immerse yourself? Perhaps it’s finessing every detail, referencing historical models, adding scale patches, rivets, stitching, markings, etc. Maybe it’s the number of quality plans developed throughout the years, the opportunity to create your own flying objects, the multitude of great kits, or the RTF airplanes that are available? Perhaps it’s the engineering, the problem-solving, trial, error, observation, innovation, and successes that breed new understanding and add to our knowledge of flight. All of these parts—and many that have gone unmentioned—go into this art form, this hobby, this competitive outlet that is model aviation.

bryce morrow enjoyed the flightline
01. Bryce Morrow enjoyed the flightline at Camp AMA. In the foreground are Tristan Smith and instructor Ethan Ater.
the skydio drones were the perfect
02. The Skydio drones were the perfect aircraft to utilize during some of the windier portions of each day. The aircraft handled the wind perfectly and wowed students with the ability to capture great footage of the event.
newbeedrone kits were a big
03. NewBeeDrone kits were a big hit during the indoor flying at the Cave, DCFC’s soccer facility.
it might have been windy
04. It might have been windy, but the flightline was often filled with students who were ready to both learn and share their knowledge.

Camp AMA is certainly a time and place that celebrates many of these things. For six days in the summer at the International Aeromodeling Center, located in Muncie, Indiana, youth ages 13-17 make their way to these grounds to experience this hobby among their peers.

For many youth in model aviation, seeing another peer at a flying site, event, or club is a rarity. Camp affords these teens an opportunity to enjoy model aviation with others who have a similar passion. Camp brings these similar ages together, and the personal growth that I’ve observed among the campers throughout the years is one of my favorite components.

Certainly, flying skills become sharpened through the experiences of Camp AMA, but perhaps more importantly, these campers grow in their ability to accept criticism, provide meaningful feedback, and learn from their mistakes and successes both on the flightline and in their interpersonal interactions with the other campers.

It’s an honor to see so much growth in the young pilots who attend camp. This growth is a testament to the efforts of our mentors, instructors, and staff who pour out their time and energy into them.

The Camp AMA Staff

This year at Camp AMA, we had two officially dedicated trainers for the June 12-18 camp. Santiago Perez Sequeira again returned as a camp instructor. You can read more about Santiago in the September 2021 issue of Model Aviation, where he was featured in "I Am the AMA."

Santiago began flying with his father at age 10, and it has taken him to some amazing places. His skillset is impressive, no doubt, but Santiago’s cool head, encouraging words, and ability to engage each camper to ensure his or her growth were invaluable. He was the go-to instructor to many students who were looking to tweak their International Miniature Aerobatic Club (IMAC) and Freestyle flying, but he was equally comfortable assisting with any and every flight discipline.

Santiago was joined this year by Ethan Ater. Ethan brought his knowledge and experience to the flightline and the build area. He focused on assisting the campers with their helicopter knowledge. Many campers were working to increase their skills in 3D heli flights, and it was a huge help to have his knowledge to draw upon.

Ethan is no slouch when it comes to flying fixedwing aircraft. He conducted several flights alongside Santiago and the campers. Ethan’s good nature and calm attitude put everyone around him at ease, while his competence ensured that ease was warranted.

santiago perez attempts
05. Santiago Perez attempts to put away the camp’s Carbon-Z Cub during a strong breeze.
the instructors amazed campers
06. The instructors amazed campers with their 3D, fixedwing, and heli flight demonstrations.
ryan ocampo showcases
07. Ryan Ocampo showcases the results of his rapid disassembly technique. In less than 24 hours, the 70mm EDF was repaired, repainted, and reflown.

We were also able to convince Lee Ray, AMA’s social media manager, to attend camp as a mentor again this year. Lee brought his knowledge of all things aeromodeling, along with his complete toolbox, to ensure that campers were able to build, fix, fly, and otherwise enjoy their camp experience. His assistance was welcome as another modeler to help with all of the questions and needs that the campers had. I’m pretty sure Lee could give most people a run for their money when it comes to how many soldering jobs can be knocked out in a five-day period.

The AMA Education department—AMA Education Specialist Kyle Thede, Education Department Coordinator Emily Rice, and I—contributed throughout the week to the camp in a multitude of ways. From the overall organization of the event, to the classroom lessons, to the off-site excursions, we were again able to ensure the success of Camp AMA.

The work for camp takes place throughout the course of several months before the event and involves the efforts of each department at AMA Headquarters.

A huge thanks goes out to our grounds crew for setting up tents, bringing water and equipment on-site, and assisting us at every turn. My thanks also goes out to the district vice presidents and individual clubs that sponsored campers this year, as well as the multitude of donors who have provided funding to the AMA Foundation. These donations paved the way for campers in need to come to Camp AMA. Ultimately, the experiences gathered from these youth will influence their lives for good.

kyle thede checks his watch
08. Kyle Thede checks his watch as the students finalize their eggdrop projects in the McCullough Room.
several campers patiently
09. Several campers patiently wait for the hobby shop to open.

Be sure to look to the "AMA News" section in upcoming issues of Model Aviation magazine to hear from the campers in their own words about their experiences at Camp AMA.

The Schedule

This year, as with all in-person Camp AMAs, flying time was a priority for the 19 campers and the staff. Each day of camp included both build time and flight time. Often, both the Claude McCullough Education Facility and Site 1 were occupied by a large number of campers who were repairing, creating, flying, and crashing … in short, learning. Fortunately, our staff was able to accommodate all of these events in separate locations, ensuring adherence to safety and that mentorship opportunities were being pursued.

dugan doyle lit up his aircraft
10. Dugan Doyle lit up his aircraft for flights on the final evening of camp.
museum volunteers rich lagrange
11. Museum volunteers Rich LaGrange and Don Sanqunetti built this excellent CL trainer for the campers. Many thanks!
lee ray amas social media
12. Lee Ray, AMA’s social media manager and camp mentor, found some time to fly an aircraft that he designed and built!

There were several trips to the local hobby shop, Toys Forever Models & Hobbies, located in downtown Muncie, where many airplanes were purchased, tools were obtained, and all of the associated batteries, glues, wires, propellers, and parts were swiftly acquired and put to good use. You can learn more about this local hobby shop by listening to Episode 35 of the AMA Podcast.

Speaking of the AMA Podcast, host Matt Ruddick led a discussion on how to utilize drones to capture images and videography, as well as an overview of some of the Part 107 rules and regulations for the campers. This was a great session, and the knowledge was put to use with the Skydio 2 and Skydio 2+ drones that were provided for use during Camp AMA this year.

A huge thanks to Skydio for stepping up to the plate to provide these amazing tools to our campers. I’ve been reviewing the footage obtained by the camp attendees, and there is some great content that I look forward to sharing.

Most youth brought their own aircraft to fly or had them shipped ahead of time. We also had great support from Horizon Hobby, which provided chargers, batteries, airframes, electronics, and transmitters to ensure that the youth had access to the most modern aircraft and equipment. We couldn’t conduct this event without Horizon Hobby’s contributions, so please support the company through your local hobby shop.

camp ama attendees get an aircraft
13. Camp AMA attendees get an aircraft ready for flight.

We introduced some of the campers to Control Line (CL) flying, but with the high wind, it was quickly determined that we should save the CL aircraft for a future camp. My thanks go to Brodak Manufacturing for its help with the Super Clown kit, as well as a special thanks to our National Model Aviation Museum volunteers, Rich LaGrange and Don Sanqunetti, who scratch-built a CL aircraft to use during camp after hearing about our desire to introduce the genre to the campers.

Rich and Don built a Freshman II designed by Doug Dahlke. If you like the look of this CL trainer, you can purchase the instructions through the AMA Plans Service! It’s plans #837. I’m grateful for volunteers such as Rich and Don who give their time and resources to ensure that these kids have a great experience at camp, and within aviation as a whole. My hat is off to you both!

Emily, with help from Kyle Thede, developed a timed egg-drop project in which campers and instructors participated. Although Santiago and Ethan took the wins overall, the prizes went to two groups of students who successfully deployed their eggs and returned them to earth from an unreasonable height.

Part of the overall challenge was to deploy the eggs by creating a drop mechanism on one of the team’s aircraft. Some of these mechanisms worked, but all of them led to a further understanding of the challenge. If you ever need one of these youth to help you create a drop mechanism for your aircraft, they’ll be ready to assist!

We also again rented space at the local indoor soccer field run by the Delaware County Futbol Club (DCFC) in Muncie. The campers were divided into two areas: one for FPV Tiny Whoop drones sponsored by NewBeeDrone, and the other side for indoor flying demonstrations, lessons, and the occasional airplane stuck in the nets. Of course, it was a soccer field, so the kids had a few shots on the goals as well.

Lee and I were furiously charging 1S LiPo batteries for the FPV operations as the students navigated a course that had been prepared for them. If you’ve ever tried to keep eight flight stations supplied with 1S batteries for any length of time, you can commiserate with our plight.

awards were presented
14. Awards were presented to students at a campfire before the evening flights.

We also took a trip to Alex Theatre in Alexandria, Indiana, where we enjoyed a showing of Top Gun: Maverick, and a trip to Anderson, Indiana, for bowling. These events were scheduled to provide some respite from the heat and wind that we contended with throughout the week of Camp AMA, as well as some unique opportunities for the students to enjoy other aspects of the community around them.

Speaking of the heat, the campers (and staff) really did handle the elements well. Copious amounts of water and Gatorade were delivered by great AMA staff members, including Rob Kurek and Joyce Hager. Although the wind wasn’t exactly optimal for flights, students rolled with the punches and were able to get some great flying in.

As an indication of the quality of these youth, I rarely heard any complaining about the conditions.

By the end of the week, most campers had become more adept at controlling their aircraft and understanding their limitations, while strengthening their ability to safely fly their aircraft in such conditions. My thanks go out to everyone who worked hard to make this event a success. It truly is a heavy lift for the staff and volunteers to host these youth. My sincerest hope is that these efforts continue to positively influence the lives of our attendees, and that they find every opportunity to pay it forward in the future.


"I Am the AMA"

Model Aviation, September, 2021

Toys Forever Models & Hobbies

(765) 288-6505

Horizon Hobby

(888) 959-2307

AMA Plans Service

(765) 287-1256, ext. 507

Brodak Manufacturing

(724) 966-2726

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