[headline: Sharing skills is a great experience]
Because this will be my first winter in the north, I am hoping for a mild one! It is early November now, but the weather is not too bad. I wish it would stay like this!
In October, AMA Staff Director Joyce Hager and I traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, to attend the National Recreation and Parks Association National Convention and Expo. I have attended these conventions in the past to represent AMA and to contact officials to connect them with clubs to create flying sites. Although we have enjoyed some success, we feel we needed to change things and improve on the number of new sites created.
This year we brought a new approach to the convention as a result of a program I have put into motion. The program is actually aimed at two separate groups: park and recreation departments, and military Moral, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) departments. I am using contacts that were gained at the convention to beta test this new program.
For park and recreation departments, the idea of the program is to equip them with the ability to create park flier model sites. These sites will be able to attract non-sports-minded or technical-minded people, and create a flying site on vacant or underutilized park land (such as soccer fields that are unused during the week).
I will work to connect the park and recreation departments with a local AMA club or AMA member to assist in setting up the site, as well as oversee the field’s daily flight operations. The program will show them the value of the site, the educational benefits of having a model site, and how this activity attracts a non-sports-minded group of people who need a space to enjoy their hobby/sport.
By partnering with a club, more possibilities are created. The club can monitor the site, and can also serve as a security force to make sure the site is protected and not abused. The members can help organize events related to education for schools, Civil Air Patrol, or other groups. They can even help host flying events designed to bring in outside participants (who bring dollars to the local area for a positive economic impact). Many groups participate in charitable fly-ins that are celebrated by the local population and reflect positively on the local area.
However, the program has another thrust as well. That is for MWR departments on military bases. A couple of years ago, I was approached by a MWR director who wanted to find out how to purchase RC model aircraft for use by students on the base.
It seems that many of the young students who join the military to learn a skill, find themselves at a technical training facility on a base. When they get out of class at the end of the day, they don’t have anything else to do but go down to the MWR and play on the X-Box until 2 a.m. The MWR wanted a way to get them off the couch and outside. Providing model aircraft as an activity was, they thought, a great way to make this happen.
I have taken this idea and added to it in such a way that if the MWR can create a flying site and connect with a local AMA club or AMA member for help, they can provide flight training, maintenance, and repair skills to help maintain the models and continue to keep the new pilots interested and keep the models flying.
By the time you read this, I will be involved with several of these groups to test and improve the program. In the fall of 2015, I hope to announce a nationwide launch of this program at the 2015 National Park and Recreation Association Convention!
AMA will be advertising to the Park and Recreation and MRW industry starting in the spring of 2014. It is my hope that this nationwide program will create many new flying sites across the country!
In order for this program to be successful, your help is required. When the time comes, I hope you will answer the call to become involved with your local park and recreation department or MWR department. Your expertise will be invaluable to help these groups create safe flying sites and teach others good flying practices as well has how to fly and repair models.
Sharing your skills and knowledge with a newcomer is a great experience. I hope you will make yourself available![dingbat]