[Headline: Farewell, Bliss]
Before I begin my column, I would like to acknowledge the passing of AMA’s District IV vice president, Bliss A. Teague. Bliss was well-known throughout District IV, regularly attending countless fly-ins and he was always enthusiastic about model aviation. We couldn’t have asked for a better person to lead our district, and I am grateful to have known him.
Bliss was an Army sergeant during the Korean War, but I don’t think he would mind me using the quote below. Thank you, Bliss, for your military service, and for your AMA service. Rest in peace.
“We toast our hearty comrades who have fallen from the skies, and were gently caught by God's own hand to be with him on High.
“To dwell among the soaring clouds they’ve known so well before. From victory roll to tail chase, at heaven’s very door.
“As we fly among them there, we’re sure to head their plea. To take care my friend, watch your six, and do one more roll for me.”
—Commander Jerry Coffee, Hanoi, 1968
Hold Your Own Fly-In
One of the best ways to introduce people to our helicopter hobby—and model aviation in general—is to hold a fly-in at your club. I recently set out to do this, and want to share with you some tips for success.
It starts with signing up to be a CD for the AMA. Instructions for how to do this are available on the AMA’s website (see the “Sources”). When you are registered as a CD, it’s time to attend your club meetings and suggest a fly-in. Talk with your club members, explain your fly-in, and decide when you would like to hold it.
One of the advantages of having a fly-in is that it can generate income for the club in the form of landing fees, etc., which can be used to help with site maintenance. After the dates have been set, the work begins!
The first thing to do is to register the event with AMA. This is important because when the AMA sanctions your event, it also becomes insured.
A good way to entice pilots to attend is with the time-old tradition of holding a raffle. These can be a win-win all around. Manufacturers that donate prizes will gain exposure, visiting pilots can walk away with some awesome prizes, and your club will pull in more money to put back into its coffers.
Contact as many manufacturers and companies as you think would be relevant to your fly-in, but don’t simply ask for “free” stuff. Tell them about your club, let them know approximately how many pilots you are expecting, and above all, be polite and courteous in your contact with them. Tell them what you can do for them in return, such as advertising on social media, and provide photos of the event after it ends.
Not everyone you contact will return your messages, but don’t take this to heart. Manufacturers are frequently asked for donations, and it is impossible for them to provide something for everyone. After the event, make sure you follow through on promises of photos, and thank anyone who provided something for your fly-in.
You will also need volunteers. They are like gold; treat them as such. It is next to impossible to hold an event by yourself, so make sure to treat your volunteers well, ask for their input, and don’t simply boss them around.
You will need to assess parking and food, and determine if volunteers are needed for special duties. What special duties might there be? My club held a miniature obstacle course competition in which pilots flew micro helis and/or quadcopters around a cleverly designed obstacle course. We not only needed someone to design and build the course, but also to time contestants and keep track of the results.
Advertising is the key to holding a successful event. There are many online helicopter forums that you can advertise in, as well as MA. You can have a listing in the “Sanctioned Event Calendar” in MA in the months before your event, and there are options for increasing your listing’s visibility, such as including a supplemental ad. Social media is another great way to promote your event.
You could submit an advertisement to your local newspaper, or let your local radio station know about the gathering. Make sure that the directions to your flying site are easy to follow and are posted in numerous places. Placing clearly marked signs at strategic street intersections help get the public and visitors to your flying site. (Read more tips for how to promote and market your event on the website listed in “Sources.”)
When all is said and done, have fun! Engage visitors, pilots, and spectators. The event is more about them than about you flying. Make sure your volunteers have everything they need, and be mindful of the time they are donating.
It may sound like a lot of work, but with the right preparation, things will fall into place on the day of your event. Chances are, you will make new friends and people will be excited about returning next year!
2014 IRCHA Jamboree
As I write this, I have recently returned from the 2014 International Radio Controlled Helicopter Association (IRCHA) Jamboree, and it was awesome! I’ll have a full write-up on the event in the December issue of MA, but I will tell you that the weather in Muncie, Indiana, was remarkable for that time of year. There were cooler temperatures and not quite as much wind as in previous years. The word from IRCHA President Dave Millner is that the official registered pilot count was 1,074.
For those who flew without registering, shame on you! The IRCHA board goes through much effort to put on this event. In the future, please register before you fly.
Despite a small group of pilots not registering, the rest of us had a great time. I look forward to next year’s IRCHA Jamboree!
F3C World Team
I want to congratulate Nick Maxwell, Daniel Hiatt, and Dwight Shilling for making the US team for the 2015 F3C Helicopter World Championship, with Dennis Purduski as team manager. I will write more about the team and F3C flying in a future issue. Great job, pilots![dingbat]
AMA CD application
AMA CD portal
Event promoting and marketing
Bliss Teague’s biography