Print this articlePrint this article

Written by Matthew Ruddick
I want to bring modelers together
As seen in the February 2018 issue of
Model Aviation.

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Matt Ruddick and I am the new multirotor associate editor for this publication.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re asking yourself why there is a need to have a staff editor dedicated to the dreaded “drones.” I get it, and I’ll try my best to explain to you what my goals are and how I plan to make our hobby a happier, more inclusive place than it already is. Would you like to come along for the ride?

First, I’ll share a bit about myself. Three years ago, I walked through the doors of AMA for the first time and knew that I wanted nothing more than to play with every DJI product on the market. I wanted to fly every Phantom and Inspire I could get my hands on and produce some of the most beautiful video you could imagine. Surely that’s what a media producer for the AMA would be doing, right? Well, in short, no it was not.

Instead, I would be introduced to a world that I hardly knew existed. From stick-and-tissue Free Flight airplanes, to foamie ARFs, to scratch-built scale warbirds—there were no limits to what I was exposed to. I quickly found out that I loved the look of scale World War II warbirds, and that nothing was more relaxing than a soaring flight at dusk with my Radian.

Matt also enjoys flying fixed-wing aircraft, including this Radian glider.

I thought to myself, “Who needs those drones and their cameras?” In fact, one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in my short tenure here was riding in a restored 1945 Boeing DC-3 for 10 minutes, and there wasn’t a drone in sight.

It wasn’t until roughly 18 months later that I got my hands on a custom-built FPV multirotor and my attitude shifted again. You see, when I was presented with an opportunity to ride along during a Tiny Whoop flight, and then experienced the excitement of the 2016 MultiGP National Championship, I discovered that drones were exactly the thing I’d been looking to immerse myself in all along.

I began planning my first project and started buying components as quickly as my wallet allowed. In slightly less than a year and a half, I’ve spent many hours and countless dollars building and flying more than a dozen custom aircraft. I’ve attended numerous FPV-related events, both on professional and personal time, and it has been an experience that I have found incredibly informative and rewarding.

Matt participated in the Model Aviation Quad Racing Challenge in the summer of 2017. He is pictured on the left with Preston Flint (center) and Model Aviation Editor-in-Chief Jay Smith.

In that time, I’ve been able to introduce numerous people to the world of FPV flying and drone racing, and a few of those people have even begun flying. The excitement was sincere and addictive. However, it was painfully obvious that the excitement wasn’t shared by many in the traditional modeling community.

Far be it for me to insist that we all enjoy the same things. And that’s not the point of this column or the goal of my position within this publication. On the contrary, I want us all to enjoy the segments of the hobby that we participate in, while respecting the ones we don’t. That is precisely why I feel that my new role is incredibly important.

In many cases, traditional modelers know little about the culture of drone pilots. Conversely, some in the drone world look at traditional modelers with a very stereotypical scope and fail to understand their concerns that the drones will ruin the hobby they’ve loved for so long. It’s truly my hope that we can change some of these misunderstandings.

One of the strengths that I bring with me is that I’ve been on both sides of the “new technology vs. traditional” argument. I have good friends who are on either side of it as well. And of course, I read all of the message boards, Facebook, and Twitter comments that insist that the “drone guys” will ruin the hobby forever, and that the “traditional guys” just don’t get it.

In reality, we have far more in common than we realize, which brings me to my new personal goal—I want to bring modelers together.

I can already hear the comments. “Hey Matt, isn’t that an AMA slogan?” Well, yes it is. But it’s a slogan that has meaning behind it. I see the modeling community like a family, and like most families, we sometimes fight. We fought when helicopters were introduced, and again when 2.4 GHz transmitters became the standard.

It’s unsurprising that we are in the midst of another fight in the infancy of the new technology revolution. What I want to do is show both sides that we can actually coexist within the hobby of model aviation. I want to show that there is validity in all disciplines of flight.

Here’s what I know: This is going to take work, and it will not get done overnight. There will be setbacks, but I’m still optimistic that we can get there.

I recall interviewing a couple of well-known FPV racing pilots in the summer of 2016. Following the interview, the two pilots looked up in the sky at an adjacent flying site at the International Aeromodeling Center in Muncie, Indiana, and asked, “What are those?” He was pointing to a gaggle of warbirds in formation during the Indiana Warbird Campaign (IWC), which happened to be going on at the same time.

The 2016 MultiGP Championship inspired many to try FPV for the first time.

They were in awe at how much work and attention was put into each of those aircraft and insisted that they needed to go look at them as soon as their practice session was over. Later, while I was speaking to a pilot at the IWC, he mentioned that he was really interested in seeing how “... those drone pilots can make it look so easy.” See, it can be done.

In the meantime, I plan to bring new and exciting multirotor content to you through this column, additional magazine features, and content for our digital edition. Guest authors and feature writers will occasionally make appearances, bringing their expertise to the pages of Model Aviation. My hope is that this content will be appealing to all drone pilots out there, and in turn, will expose them to other exciting segments of this hobby that we all love.

Perhaps I might even persuade traditional pilots to give drones a second look, or at least give them a new lens with which to view them—one that sees it as something that won’t ruin their hobby, but will help guide all of aeromodeling into a brighter sky and brighter future.

FPV technology offers a new experience to traditional modeling.

So, I ask you again, do you want to come along for the ride?

Add new comment