Springtime is typically trade-show season in the RC industry. For many, these shows mark the end of the winter "building season" and the start of model flying, boating, and driving for the year. Until recently, I had never been to an RC trade show. So I was particularly excited to attend AMA Expo East during the last weekend of February. I was able to check out newly-released products, see what other modelers have been up to, and hear some fantastic speakers.
The AMA Expo
In this context, "AMA" stands for the Academy of Model Aeronautics, which is a nationwide, non-profit, community-based organization that promotes and advocates for all types of aeromodeling. The majority of active model flyers are already familiar with this group, since AMA membership is a prerequisite to joining most local flying clubs.
As the name suggests, AMA Expo East is a sister event to AMA Expo West, which took place in Ontario, California in early January. The eastern event that I attended was held inside the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey. I was somewhat concerned that this location (just across the Hudson River from Midtown Manhattan) would be a hassle to get into and out of. It turned out to be a complete non-issue. The Exposition Center and adjoining hotel were easy to access and had plenty of free parking.
Numerous manufacturers had booths set up at the expo to show off their new (and legacy) products. These offerings ranged from custom pilot figures for RC models to emergency parachutes for your drone. There is a big difference between seeing a product in a magazine or online article and holding it in your hands. Many businesses were equipped to sell on-site and had special "expo pricing" to help seal the deal.
I was able to get my paws on the new Spektrum iX12 transmitter in the Horizon Hobby booth. This was good for me, not because I pine for the iX12, but because I have been skeptical of it since it was announced. You see, this radio has a quad-core processor and uses an Android operating system. It is basically a tablet and transmitter hybrid. While I appreciate new technology, I'm not convinced that an RC transmitter needs to be that complex.