“What makes greatness is starting something that lives after you.”
—Ralph W. Sockman
In a world of breathtaking technology, it’s sometimes easy to forget that our work—the legacy we create about ourselves—hasn’t changed much. What we do with, and for, other people continues to be the most effective method of creating that positive legacy.
Many words are written and spoken about continuing the enjoyment of model aviation for generations to come, and yet, what have you done about it? Is it important to you?
I’m in a professional environment that allows easy access to what countless modelers think and say—and what they do. The proverbial rubber is on the road with action in my estimation.
Our department receives many weekly requests for support of an outreach program that someone wants to do in his or her community. We also hear about those who choose to keep it all to themselves or even worse, being critical of modelers not doing what they “approve” of.
As we enter into the sUAS chapter in the life of model aviation, you should know that we’re doing well, but we could do better.
I saw an article the other day about a child who was in a wheelchair and his parents decided to build what appeared to be an ice cream truck around his wheelchair so that he could enjoy Halloween. That’s what I’m talking about! Make something work for the best possible result, even if you’re not dealt the best possible hand.
We are all tasked, and not by choice, to be a spokesperson for model aviation and, by default, the AMA. If you’ve been on a two-year trip to a cave, you have possibly missed the fact that the word drone is now an everyday part of our vocabulary and the layman reference to all model aviation.
I stopped to fill up with gas the other day and had two 2-Meter pattern planes in the back of my vehicle. The rear hatch was open and a woman walked by, looked in, and said, “Oh, you’re one of the guys flying the drones?”
Maybe some of you have had these moments as well, but please give careful thought to your response. Many people simply don’t know any better and a couple of minutes of explaining what we do and how we do it safely will go a long way in securing our fun for the future. After a few minutes of conversation, her last words to me were “that really looks like a lot of fun.”
It’s all about the message, and our message is something that will live long after us. Maybe she went home and shared her experience with the family and it resonated with just one person—one who might be the next Burt Rutan.
In July 1998, Mike Stokes was the Director of Education and co-wrote a column in Model Aviation. I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting Mike, but he wrote then:
“Response from the April ‘Focus on Education’ article asking ‘Where are the kids?’ has been very enlightening to say the least! In quick summary, ‘they’ really are out there! While RC is certainly the most popular aspect of model aviation, it’s not for everyone and may not be practical for many educational systems as Gordon Schimmel noted in last month’s column.”
Gordon is still with us, spreading the word of community outreach. He has, through his own work and the multiple Alcoa grants he’s secured, shared the magic of model aviation with many thousands of people.
Mike wrote about “the kids who are still out there” more than 16 years ago. Where are those kids now? Graduating a university? Married with a family? Serving in the military? Who really knows?
And today, the kids still remain out there. So are the adults who are wondering about drones and clubs that need our support and resources. There is so much to do, and so much of it remains the same.
Make sure that what you do, how you do it, and the way you treat people is a model for others to admire, respect, and emulate. Find yourself some heroes. There are lots of good ones out there, and many of them will be found with the kids!
Fly and have fun!