... make practical recommendations that will
offer the greatest likelihood of success.
perfectly normal; however, as many clubs are finding out, this
no longer works in our instant-gratification society, where so
many other activities vie for peoples’ discretionary time and
promise to deliver immediate fun.
1. The first significant trait on display at successful clubs in
the modern era is that their leadership constantly promotes
flying! For example, when a potential new member visits the
flying field, the club leaders do everything they can to get that
person in the air as soon as possible, or at least ask him or her
to accompany them while they fly.
An interest in airplanes and flying is primarily what draws
people to the hobby, and it is what RC aviation offers that
they can’t get anywhere else—especially since the training
requirements and cost of full-scale aviation have become
prohibitive for many people.
A typical busy person today enters aeromodeling to have
fun, as well as to enjoy the freedom that flying represents as an
escape from stress and real life. The reasons for joining a club
are mainly to have access to a well-kept, dedicated flying site
and access to the help of experienced modelers.
The camaraderie and everything else that goes with being
a club member is secondary to flying in the beginning. To the
consternation of many veteran modelers, a typical RC pilot
today looks at the process of setting up an airplane as mainly
a means to fly, and would prefer not to spend much time
working on his or her airplanes.
Recognizing this, effective club leaders focus on
“accentuating the positives” whenever they encounter a
potential member or interested spectator. These positives
include a dedicated runway from which to fly, experienced
members to help answer questions, and the fact that
technology is making it easier and cheaper than ever before for
people to enjoy the hobby.
Good club leaders are like good car salesmen who smartly
pitch a car’s best features in order to elevate a person’s
enthusiasm before getting into the details of price, fees, etc.
Failing clubs, on the other hand, tend to jump right into
bringing up dues, prohibitive rules, duties, costs, etc., whenever
an interested visitor/potential member shows up at the field.
They then wonder why the person never returns.
2. If the reason for the club’s existence—a dedicated
environment in which to fly model airplanes—is no longer
the main focal point, the primary reason to join or remain
part of the club no longer exists. In these cases, the non-flying
members of the club will invariably steer the club’s focus
and resources to activities unrelated to flying—such as club
politics—causing people who were originally drawn to the
hobby for the fun of flying to have little reason to come back.
There will always be conflicting interests and politics in any
organization, but they are less noticeable when there’s plenty
of flying taking place.
For a variety of reasons, such as seldom having a plan before
flying and deemphasizing fundamentals in favor of the latest
technology and design, the flying skills of an average club flier
typically plateau within three to five years. As a result, those
who don’t become discouraged or lose interest, often turn to
constantly tinkering and acquiring new equipment to get their
That would be fine, but when constant tinkering is
presented to an average newcomer as standard operating
procedure, what he or she mainly sees is an endless series of
obstacles that get in the way of flying and fun.
As these perceived obstacles chip away at a newcomer’s
enthusiasm, or as the result of a negative experience (such as
a club member disassembling his or her airplane rather than
helping get it in the air), reasonable people will start thinking
about other activities that don’t involve as many hurdles.
The conundrum that many clubs face today is that although
some of the veteran members act as though it would take
the fun out of the hobby if everything worked and nothing
needed to be changed, that would be an answer to prayers for
newcomers and those trying to improve their flying skills.
Of course, if a newcomer is inclined toward tinkering, there
is no better outlet than RC aviation. However, all too often
veteran fliers forget how intimidating it is to be a newcomer
and how much more there is to learn than anyone expects.
The temptation to impress your novice audience by sharing
the setup expertise you developed throughout many years can
prove daunting to someone who entered the sport hoping to
start flying right away.
Effective club leaders, motivated by wanting each member
to have a positive experience and thereby raise the likelihood
of him or her remaining active in the club, make every
reasonable effort to keep things simple and remove obstacles
that would get in the way of others enjoying flying at the club
Anytime a member brings a new airplane to the flying field,
the club members should refrain from pointing out all of the
things that they don’t like or would do differently. Instead they
should perform the essential checks to ensure that an airplane
is airworthy (such as checking the center of gravity, correct
travel, batteries), and then do their best to get it into the air as
soon as possible.
24 Model Aviation MAY 2016