Hello again! As I write this in mid-January, old weather has most of you who live north of the Mason-Dixon Line flying indoors or working on models for the upcoming season. For those of you who live in warmer climates, flying continues throughout the year.
I receive phone calls and emails from AMA members wondering what is typical of an AMA RC club. Many have questions about field size, flying area, and runway makeup. There are so many variables between clubs that I am not sure what “typical” is! Most clubs have fewer than 30 members, but we do have clubs with more than 200.
Some operate from fields that they own, some rent land, and others use land at no charge to them. Club members often put in hours of hard work including mowing grass, seeding, and irrigating to create a smooth area needed—especially for small models with small wheels.
I want to introduce you to my club in Brunswick, Georgia: the Coastal Planes RC Club. We currently have 21 members and fly on rental land that is on the end of a seldom-used crop dusting runway. The site lease is $1,500 per year, so membership dues are $150 per year to help offset that cost.
I have heard from many clubs that it is difficult to get members to pay their $35 annual dues, so I guess $150 would be out of the question.
Our club has improved its site throughout the years by adding fencing and starting stands, as well as a covered pit area with plenty of tables to work on models. As is the case with most clubs, a core group of members have put in the time to create these additions to the facility.
During the past year or so, the club has begun working to create an environment that welcomes new members and visitors. We have had a few “snowbirds” fly with us while they are in the area, and we have enjoyed having them.
Some of the improvements that will be done to the site in 2014, include runway work and additional pit area tables. This takes money and work, but the members appear to be willing to pitch in and make it happen.
Another reason for improving the site is so the club can begin hosting events. These activities could help generate funds to support site improvements without increasing dues. We hope to host our first event in the fall of 2014—if we can complete the improvements in time.
The club has also begun to focus on community awareness. I am working with fellow club member Eddie Mobley to start attending a monthly event called “First Friday” that is held downtown. We plan to have a booth, display our models, and discuss model flying. We hope this will help us gain some new members and build relationships with city officials. Perhaps we can obtain city or county land for a permanent flying site.
I am sharing this because all clubs, no matter what size, need to consider improving their flying sites and reaching out to the community. If you can create a relationship with local officials, it could later help your club get its next flying site. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that most clubs are not flying on the same site they were 20 years ago. Things change and clubs need to work to be in the best possible position to protect their flying sites.
As for the Coastal Planes RC Club, we are just getting started. Where is your club at with community relations? Maybe it is time that you should get started!
See you at the field.