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Old 03-02-2012, 05:29 AM   #1
liff
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Default If you don't participate in a club, or at an AMA flying field, we;d like to know why

Its quite obvious that many electric aircraft pilots do not participate in clubs, at AMA flying fields or specifically designated flying sites. We are genuinely very interested in speaking with people and finding out why.

This is in no way meant to be a criticism of people who are not part of a club, nor is it meant as an advertisement to you. I'm personally very interested in hearing the different viewpoints of people and their opinions on this matter. It is my personal goal to try and make local flying sites accessible and welcoming to as many people as possible so, as somewhat of an activist, your opinions are very important to me.

Feel free to vent frustrations, explain what you don't like about the classic club structure, or the reasons you fly in outside of specifically designated flying sites... let it all out . Any suggestions on how to make these clubs and sites more appealing to you is also something I'd love to hear.

EDIT: ADDITION TO SUMMARIZE RESPONSES
If I may be so bold as to summarize your responses so far, and put them in a simplified drill down list (please correct me if I mischaracterize your statements):

(hayofstacks)
Proximity and physical accessibility can be an issue
You can fly anywhere and be safe, so needing a flying field is a bit redundant
You already have all the companionship you need (in your case your father)
Meetings are something you are not personally familiar with

(rcers)
Proximity can be a large issue
Club "politics" can get in the way
In some cases, rules might be excessive
Certain members or officers in the club might not be who you want to associate with or be around
Some clubs (or its members) have exhibited an unwelcoming atmosphere to you

The part about the boy scouts definitely saddens me. A chance to expose young people to something they might be interested in should be embraced, not rejected. That was a very disappointing response to your request.

(pmullen053)
It can be expensive for dues/initiation fees
Some fields do not suit your flying needs
Certain club members or gas/glow modelers are condescending to you because of what you fly
Some clubs are over-regulated
You can fly electrics almost anywhere and you don't really need club fields
Flying at other location can be very quick, easy and convenient

(ronhawker)
It can be expensive for dues/initiation fees
Some clubs & members have negative attitudes towards new members
Some clubs & members have negative attitudes towards electric planes
Some clubs & members have a "tribal" mind set.

(Kosh)
Other clubs can be over-regulated in general
The excessive regulations of some clubs do not really apply to electrics
Club rules and restrictions do not need to be that complicated, and should be kept simple

(Glacier Girl)
Club/member attitude
Club dues/join fee
Location, location, location

(NFA Fabrication)
Fields can be too far away to be practical

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Old 03-02-2012, 06:30 AM   #2
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They moved our feild right down the street, but now its on a dirt road that is impassable for the entire winter, and probably the whole year for my station wagon. I can fly my slow stick anywhwere. I used to walk right down the street with radio and plane in hand and a pocket full of batteries.

My mini ultra stick I feel is to fast and dangerous for my skill level as a second plane. I have flown it once at a non ama flying feild on a chunk of salt flat about 22 miles away, and about 10 or 15 times on a freeway overpass that leads to a dead end road. The flying feild makes it feel like a bit too small of a plane, but I wouldn't trust it at a park or church parkinglot until I get better at flying it.

Honestly, I have never been to a ama meeting, and I wouldn't even know about them if it wasn't for my dad from his nitro days. Never hear anything about it, and again if it wasn't for my dad, i'd likely never hear about it. Park flyers like my slow stick don't really need a giant flying feild or runway, and wouldn't cause much damage or really hurt anyone if you use common sense and practice safe flying. Generally me and my dad will go out and we will take turns as lookouts for kids or joggers at the park. If its not busy we will chase each other around, practicing touch and goes on the grass.
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Old 03-02-2012, 12:33 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by liff View Post
Its quite obvious that many electric aircraft pilots do not participate in clubs, at AMA flying fields or specifically designated flying sites. We are genuinely very interested in speaking with people and finding out why.
It is a good question but I suspect the reasons are similar. First a small correction. AMA does not have "flying fields" except for one, owned by the AMA in Muncie IN. Clubs may have landowner protection offered by the AMA however.

I have been a member of an RC club for about 1/3 of my RC career. Sometimes is was simply a matter location (no club very close) growing up in rural Idaho. Other times it was just too political (like the club I was an officer in SLC UT).

I am a member of the 114th Aero here in north Texas. They are low key and well run. There are a couple of nuts in the club (they all have em) but for the most part the gang is wonderful. We have a nice spot, noise is a concern (as most clubs) and I wish our runway was in better shape (that is the plan for this year!).

I suspect most simply don't want to deal with the rules and regs and the few nuts each club has. Sometimes you get club leaders who are much too abrasive too.

A good example - another club here in North Texas. I asked the club if I could bring a group of Boy Scouts and fly for them (told them I was an AMA member). They said Nope - you are not a member. Are you kidding me? I knew who NOT to join. That club is now defunct - gee I wonder why.

Another I visited and felt unwelcome - amazing since they really needed some good strong members. Even regular members of that club feel that way. Too bad - not for me.

But I really like friends I have in the club and enjoy 99% of what it brings.

Glad I fit with the 114th.
http://114thrc.org/

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Old 03-02-2012, 02:54 PM   #4
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I have a very nice club/facility near my house but haven't joined. The reasons are:

1. High ($200) initiation and yearly ($100) dues.
2. No paved runway and much of what I fly is too small to take off from grass.
3. A condescending attitude toward electrics (join and we'll help you graduate to "real" aircraft. Meaning IC or turbine.)
4. A requirement that all new aircraft be approved by a committee. (Don't know how strictly they enforce this but it's in the by laws.)

Nice thing about electrics is that you can fly them in places where IC wouldn't be allowed. You can also be flying in a few minutes. I can get a few flights in on my lunch hour. I think a big reason electric flyers don't join clubs is that it's not necessary to have a place to fly.

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Old 03-02-2012, 03:10 PM   #5
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<EDIT: I'VE MOVED THE SUMMARIZATION TO THE TOP POST>

All great responses so far, and I appreciate everyone's input!

As far as my use of the term "AMA flying field", I was just briefly referring to fields run by an AMA club, or that is AMA insured. There are obviously fields out there not associated with AMA clubs, but nevertheless are specifically for RC aircraft. Sometimes these fields are run by local govt, or just non-AMA clubs. I wanted to distinguish between the two, just in case anyone had specific objections that only applied to one of these categories. I hope this clarifies my original post.

Thank you all for your input so far. If anyone else wants to add anything... keep 'em coming .

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Old 03-02-2012, 03:11 PM   #6
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Almost the same as the last guy; high initial fee and bad attitudes towards new guys and electric "toys". So many have very "tribal" attitudes.
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Old 03-02-2012, 03:27 PM   #7
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As the President of one of the largest flying clubs in Washington State with over 400 members and our own field we have seen what the AMA has done to other clubs and want nothing to do with them. There outdated rules and regs mean little to electric flyers in this day and age. Flying Stations, Really? Who needs them if you have a proper flight line setup and safety conscious members who speak up if someone gets out of line. Half the year our members fly in a large public park that allows electric planes. Our only rules for this site is obey the flight line and keep your plane inside the park. The rest of the year we fly at a smaller private park with the same simple rules and never had a problem. Why on earth would we need or want the AMA to screw this all up for us?

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Old 03-02-2012, 03:36 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Kosh View Post
As the President of one of the largest flying clubs in Washington State with over 400 members and our own field we have seen what the AMA has done to other clubs and want nothing to do with them. There outdated rules and regs mean little to electric flyers in this day and age. Flying Stations, Really? Who needs them if you have a proper flight line setup and safety conscious members who speak up if someone gets out of line. Half the year our members fly in a large public park that allows electric planes. Our only rules for this site is obey the flight line and keep your plane inside the park. The rest of the year we fly at a smaller private park with the same simple rules and never had a problem. Why on earth would we need or want the AMA to screw this all up for us?

Wow that's a big club! That is actually pretty amazing. I could only imagine that you'd get to be that size if your club was doing something right.

Thanks for the input !

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Old 03-02-2012, 05:35 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by liff View Post
We are genuinely very interested in speaking with people and finding out why.


Who exaxctly is "We"?

Electricity... It's not just for light bulbs anymore.

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Old 03-02-2012, 06:23 PM   #10
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I don't blame AMA for it's rules. I'm sure it's related to the needs of providing insurance. They need rules to cover the worst case: large numbers of flyers with large IC and 100 mph plus, 30 lb turbine planes, the need for frequency control of 72MHz systems, etc.

For small electrics flying with 2.4 GHz systems the rules seem like overkill. Their Parkflyer program was an attempt address this but I can see how it's problematic to different rules for different classes of airplanes.

At the club level, the folks that write the rules tend to be folks that well, like to write rules and so try to encompass the worst case scenarios. I don't mind flying stations, having to have a spotter is inconvenient but useful when there are several flyers using the same runway. But if you don't NEED a club facility you tend to avoid the hassle and expense.

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Old 03-02-2012, 06:24 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Nitro Blast View Post
Who exaxctly is "We"?
Well, I'm speaking on behalf of my club. We fly foam and electrics, and we are trying to create a better environment for people who fly the same aircraft on local flying fields. I've had a lot of the same problems listed in the thread, and we are trying to do something about it. That is why I recently formed my club. I wanted to make the transition from flying wherever to the flying fields, but I really wasn't happy with my options.

Where I live, in Long Island New York, there isn't much free space... club fields, and public fields that require AMA club membership are pretty much all we have in terms of decent (legally allowed) flying space. I don't want to go too far into this, since I don't want to make this thread about advertising my club... but suffice to say we intend on trying to change a few things and take a progressive route... and varied opinions on the matter keep us in touch with the problems that other people feel exist out there.

I'm also personally curious about how much the responses have in common, and whether the problems I see are as common as I think they are.

I hope this doesn't bother anyone. I'd prefer not to go into too much detail here, as I don't want to bias the thread at all.

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Old 03-02-2012, 06:24 PM   #12
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I think you have the big ones.
Club/member attitude
Club dues/join fee
Location, location, location

I belong to two clubs, one Outlaw, one AMA. And honestly the club field is nicer, paved runways, stands, covered areas. Dues are a killer, and attitude is fuel pattern flying, also it's 30+ miles away.

Outlaw, I own it. Sits on 25 acres, surrounded by another 200, all mine. Nearest house is a mile away. Only rule is common sense. No fees/dues. Granted it's 1100 miles away right now.

For my little stuff down here, I have a school with multiple athletic fields, and a paved running track, open to the public. Less then 3 minutes walking time from the house. And most of the time, I'm the only public that uses any of it.


And for my big stuff, honestly, I drive 5 hours to one of my Outlaw bud's AMA field. Folks there are great, beautiful facility (ex airport), and it's a run what you brung attitude. No fees, and I'm a welcome guest anytime.

When I die, I want to go like my Grandfather did, in his sleep...... Not screaming like the passengers in his plane.
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Old 03-02-2012, 06:31 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Glacier Girl View Post
I belong to two clubs, one Outlaw, one AMA. And honestly the club field is nicer, paved runways, stands, covered areas. Dues are a killer, and attitude is fuel pattern flying, also it's 30+ miles away.

Outlaw, I own it. Sits on 25 acres, surrounded by another 200, all mine. Nearest house is a mile away. Only rule is common sense. No fees/dues. Granted it's 1100 miles away right now.
Man, what I'd give to have 25 acres of property . Makes me a bit sad to live on a little 70 x 100 lot... but yeah, if I could fly on my property I'd probably do it 20x more and invite a ton of people over. That must be pretty awesome. You sure you don't want to trade?

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Old 03-02-2012, 06:46 PM   #14
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If I could just meet up with others in a larger park without driving 25 miles, I would be all over it. I live in magna utah. I am 15 minutes from salt flats, and 25 minutes from a flying feild setup on salt flats. If I want to fly without a spotter, that is basically my only choice if I had a bigger/faster plane. I have actually driven 12 miles each way to get up to a sandy park where electric guys ffly. I wish I could get something similar going alittle bit closer to home.

Also with the 2.4ghz radio's, the chances of a glitch or shared channel are eliminated. Just turning on a fm or am radio could down someone and cost them hundreds. Now its not really an issue. I think a lot of the rules should be lifted. Most elevtrics fly almost silently, park flyers can be light enough to not really hurt anything/one, especially if you fly safe. Its not like in the nitro days where 100mph 3lb planes were the norm.
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Old 03-02-2012, 07:37 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by hayofstacks View Post
If I could just meet up with others in a larger park without driving 25 miles, I would be all over it. I live in magna utah. I am 15 minutes from salt flats, and 25 minutes from a flying feild setup on salt flats. If I want to fly without a spotter, that is basically my only choice if I had a bigger/faster plane. I have actually driven 12 miles each way to get up to a sandy park where electric guys ffly. I wish I could get something similar going alittle bit closer to home.

Also with the 2.4ghz radio's, the chances of a glitch or shared channel are eliminated. Just turning on a fm or am radio could down someone and cost them hundreds. Now its not really an issue. I think a lot of the rules should be lifted. Most elevtrics fly almost silently, park flyers can be light enough to not really hurt anything/one, especially if you fly safe. Its not like in the nitro days where 100mph 3lb planes were the norm.
The salt flats must be nice. No trees! In the North East, unless you fly at a beach, there are trees... usually lots of them. Foam airplanes and trees don't really get along too well..

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Old 03-02-2012, 08:50 PM   #16
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When I went out to pittsburgh, i'd never seen so much green and tree's everywhere. Around here we have pine tree's in the mountains, and that's about it compared to you back east folk.

The salt flats. I have only been to once to fly, but I have only been flying about a year now. I had been flying my slow stick, which doesn't need a feild really at all, and this mini ultra stick I have been crashing a lot trying to get used to aleroins. Didn't really want to drive for 25 minutes to get out in the middle of nowhere to get one flight in. My dad was talking about getting some nitro's going, so that's why we went out there. I had one hard landing, then my second landing the plane broke in half. I was glad I had the esc and receiver mounted on velcro. I honestly through the prop caught the ground until I saw the motor and wheels underneath the tail.

Biggest problem with the salt flats is how long they take to dry out. In the winter time the fine dirt under the salt turns to really thick mud and stays that way until the end of summer.so you can't really just pull your car over and park anywhere. Summer time would be nice.
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Old 03-02-2012, 08:55 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by liff View Post
Man, what I'd give to have 25 acres of property . Makes me a bit sad to live on a little 70 x 100 lot... but yeah, if I could fly on my property I'd probably do it 20x more and invite a ton of people over. That must be pretty awesome. You sure you don't want to trade?
It doesn't take anywhere near 25 acres. Here's a shot of my back yard. The hay field is only about 8 acres.

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Old 03-02-2012, 08:59 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by fmw View Post
It doesn't take anywhere near 25 acres. Here's a shot of my back yard. The hay field is only about 8 acres.

You are posting just to make me jealous, aren't you?
Some times I wonder why I live on Long Island, that property looks beautiful.
I've always wanted to be able to buy one of those sit down lawn mowers... you know, the ones you drive. With my little yard, I can't justify something like that... the wife just wouldn't allow it

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Old 03-02-2012, 09:36 PM   #19
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I simply do not live close to a RC airfield. I would have no problem with fees' as from what I have read, they all seem pretty reasonable. I'd also like to see others fly as well. It is simply an inconvenience of location. In these discussions, the "Pro-AMA Field" people always seem to act like there is a field on every block. I live in north Seattle, and I have heard of a field in Snohomish, Wa., and know of one in Redmond, Wa. These are both a minimum of a 40 minute drive from my house. I would simply find myself never flying if I were to rely on these sites.
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Old 03-03-2012, 12:37 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by liff View Post
You are posting just to make me jealous, aren't you?
Some times I wonder why I live on Long Island, that property looks beautiful.
I've always wanted to be able to buy one of those sit down lawn mowers... you know, the ones you drive. With my little yard, I can't justify something like that... the wife just wouldn't allow it
Thanks. Actually I live only 6 miles from the club field so I fly there most of the time. Besides that's where my friends fly. It doesn't have trees like my place. At my place you either fly above the trees or you view the trees something like an indoor flyer would view walls.
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Old 03-03-2012, 03:22 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by fmw View Post
It doesn't take anywhere near 25 acres. Here's a shot of my back yard. The hay field is only about 8 acres.

So true what they say,....grass is always greener on the other side. I fly on 160ac.(use 40 acre alfalfa patch), got 3 other quarters that I can
fly on but their about 5miles away... I'd trade ya 40acres for piece of dirt with a scene like that. Awesome. Nope, not AMA yet. Probably will soon....No Real reason why not.....just landowner......but I'm humbled when I read that someone has to drive 20-40miles just to fly. For me75 paces to fly.....BTW You'e all invited! BYOB

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Old 03-03-2012, 03:56 AM   #22
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I fly exclusively electric park fliers. I have maybe a half dozen planes that can I fly in the street in front of my house - Vapor, UMX J-3 Cub, lightweight Stryker - etc. I also have access to a farmer's field, 1/2 mile square and totally empty, about 5 minutes from my home.

I'm not really a joiner by nature. I went to the local club's flying field - which is actually part of a public park / reclaimed landfill area which they've leased from the city - a few times but it was all old-timers with gas planes taking turns flying box patterns. They were pretty obsessive about safety rules which just didn't seem to apply to my Mini Super Cub.

The idea of a mandatory $50/year AMA membership plus another $50-$100/year club membership for shared access to a field where I can get yelled at about rules never really appealed to me much. I can find a deserted baseball diamond or school yard or cul-de-sac and fly.

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Old 03-03-2012, 06:16 AM   #23
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Hey now,
Ok I'll play too. I've been building and flying models since I was fourcyears old, about fourty years now. I've been in clubs, gone solo and rennage too.
My experience has been wide and varied over the years so...
As a kid I joined the local ukie club so I could learn faster and tell my parents there were adults around so it was safe. Mostley it was good social time, build sessions where I learned most of my skills and way too much pressure to enter contests. As soon as I could fly level I was pushed into balloon bust and so on.
The pressure to compete and the attitude I picked up from it kind of killed the fun after a while and I moved on to r/c models to get away from that.

Again as a kid I learned to fly r/c at the local club and mostly I enjoyed my time there. There were the usual old know it alls vs. kid issues but that was everywhere in those days.

Because of business for a few years it was difficult to keep flyable models around. But I'd still gulf FF gumbanders and sometimes a two channel half AOr slope floater. Hanger rash claimed most of them and a few went OOS. Those years I was rennagde in part because I was always traveling (I lived in converted school buses with small wood/stone workshops in the rear no fixed address at all).

When I settled back down I got heavily into models again.
Sincevi was now local I decided to join a local club. We had
Seven more or less in the area. Two were full at the time and the others to a club es about being infiltrated by a "commie pinko fag junkie". Ok, so I have long hair, a beard, and an earing. Big deal. But the look hit them all way wrong and I was black balled by all but one and that one demanded that I fly with a buddy box with their chosen instructor for a full year before soloing.
The instructor used a different brand of radio so I'd have to buy new gear and he made it very clear that he'd never have time for Dom hippy type druggie pervert. Huh? So much for that club.

So I started flying half A glows planes in the back lot. After a week of this the local cops told me I couldn't fly glow in the city limits but since I was a nice guy and really into flying they told me electrics weren't covered by those laws.
That's how I got into leccies. Back in the bad old days of nicads and can motors. Later on when I checked into clubs again they added the old leccies don't fly to the other insults so I stayed clear.

A few years later a new club was forming at an old Navey base and I checked them out.
This time the folks were great! They accepted my looks and attitudes happily and thought it was nifty that I ( by now) only flew leccies. Not only was I asked to join they elected me as safety officer. Pretty cool.
While I was there I got back into flying larger models, up to sixty sized leccies. And had a great time. It was nice to have propper safety rules and to be able to safely fly large models as well as my racers and speed ships.
Sadly the club lost the field and folded due to a money hungery property manager and inept club board.

For now I fly at a school yard with a rennagade group mixed with a few old line AMAers and it's ok mostly. I like the folks but I miss flying my bigger and faster models. I thought of joining another club but the only ones that are open are mixed models and I'm really tired of two stroke noise and mess. If a 'leccie out club forms I'm on it.
RobII

History, tradition, culture, are *not* concepts!
These are things I keep in my den as paper weights!-Darwin Mayflower
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Old 03-03-2012, 05:45 PM   #24
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If I were a young beginner, wanting to dabble in the hobby a little, I would not want to bother with AMA and club membership, dues and rules. Most of us silverbacks started alone in a vacant field with the 50's equivalent of todays HK foamies. If you develop a strong urge to progress, you may eventually need a smooth surface to take off and land on and enough unobstructed field area to enjoy flying larger and faster, etc., models. As open areas are gobbled up, it usually requires a drive of some miles to an authorized flying site. Flying in such areas normally require AMA insurance, maybe club membership, and compliance with safety and flight ops and field etiquette rules and regs. It also requires some maturity, civility, patience and tolerance of others and willingness to partcipate in club management, field maintenance and club sponsored activities. Selfishness, argumentiveness, and unwillingness to comply with rules are problems in any club or group activity.
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Old 03-03-2012, 06:52 PM   #25
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Hey now,
That's exactly why I think clubs are great places for kids if they can get to them. Along with flight skills and the aplication of scientific thoery they can get a fine education in the social graces. A thing many of our youth could use (and some of us silver backs too).
RobII

History, tradition, culture, are *not* concepts!
These are things I keep in my den as paper weights!-Darwin Mayflower
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