The National Model Aviation Museum has many
audiovisual materials—both in archives storage and in the
library. Some were produced by the AMA, some by outside
companies, and others by individuals. All are in a variety of
formats—film reels (16mm, 8mm, and Super 8mm), Betamax
videotapes, VHS tapes, and DVDs.
Most of the film reels in the archives came from an AMA
mail-order film rental service that served chartered clubs
and members from the 1970s through the 1990s. At that
time, AMA Headquarters was located in Washington, D.C.,
then Reston, Virginia. This service was called the AMA Film
Library, and was run by the AMA Film Department. That
library held multiple copies of films. Many were produced
by Jay Gerber, who has worked for NFL Films, and John E.
Clemens, AMA’s 18th president. The films were created for
educational and entertainment purposes.
The film reels were mailed in colorful plastic containers.
Those who wished to rent the films paid shipping costs and a
security deposit. In the mid-1970s, the rental fee ranged from
$7 to $18, with $5 to $15 of that cost considered a deposit.
By the mid-1980s, the fee was increased to $10 for each film
rental, with an additional $50 deposit. In the 1980s, many of
the films made by Jay were transferred to VHS and Betamax
tapes. Instead of renting these tapes, they were sold for $25
The rental service ended when AMA Headquarters moved
to Muncie, Indiana, in the early 1990s. The film reels were
stored, and VHS copies were made available for visitors to
view in the museum’s Lee Renaud Memorial Library.
Most of the popular movies Jay produced are in the library
In 2011, two
of these films
on the AMA’s
You Tube channel: Discovering Aeromodeling (www.youtube.
com/watch?v=3Ee YI1GPH-A), a father-and-son story about
modeling; and A Plane, A Place, A Perfect Day (www.youtube.
com/watch?v=YTh78g WoAPI), which gives details about FF,
CL, and RC flight.
The museum plans to convert some of its oldest and most
significant films in the collection to digital formats. The
collection goes back as far as the 1930s, with a film labeled
“Glimpses of the 1938 Nationals, presented by Model Airplane
News magazine,” (part of the Bob Hunt Collection, #0304),
and a 1930s-based film labeled, “Boston Modelers Meet,
Jordon Traveler Plane Meet, From John Worth.”
This process can be slow and costly. Based on the film’s
condition and fragility, only a few films can be converted to
digital format per year. The original film will be preserved,
and the digital copies will accessible to museum
The museum cannot rent copies of
DVDs, but we can sell them. Copies
of some of the AMA-owned titles
can be made and will cost $25 per
copy, (which covers the cost of
processing each order, shipment,
and materials). The quality
of the DVD depends on the
quality of the original tape.
Please contact the museum at
(765) 287-1256, ext. 211 for a
list of available videos.
—National Model Aviation
AMA Film Library list of available films, c. 1980s,
and AMA Film Library list of VHS/Betamax tapes
available, c. 1980s.
Film reels stored in the museum.
12 Model Aviation OCTOBER2014 www.ModelAviation.com