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Pumpkin drop event

Lesson learned in frustration

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#1
I really hate to complain about clubs and RC fields, because they're pretty much a vital necessity here in Southern California, where the stigma of RC aircraft of any kind is, "You're using it to spy on me!". Without the clubs and the designated fields allowing us to fly, it's hard to enjoy this hobby.

That said, I experienced a frustrating lesson in resistance to change from the "old guys" in a club the other night.

I attended a new club meeting where there was talk of new members joining up, and the club was going to offer to pay the AMA membership for the first year and offer a discounted rate for that first year, to get people in.

Why?

Because the average age of the club members, just looking around the room, was 65+. There are no kids getting involved with it, at least with that club.

So they took a vote for allowing this "new member pilot program" to go forward (the proposal was $150, which was AMA membership for a year, at $75, and club membership, which is discounted down from $200 to $75), and majority was for the new member program. But there was a surprising number of people who were against it, and when asked why, the responses ranged from, "We come out to get away from our kids," to the one that frustrated me the most, "If they can afford the plane and the transmitter and everything that goes with it, they can afford the membership."

I think that attitude is a BIG reason why we have so many pilots who are thumbing their noses at AMA rules and not wanting to join up in clubs. Parents invest in $700-$800 in a plane, transmitter, batteries, etc. to get their kid flying for the first time. For a lot of people, that's a fair chunk of change. Then you're told that you need to fork over another $75 to the AMA to be able to fly without a part 107 license, plus club membership fees to fly at a specific field. Wouldn't you want to know that ahead of time, say, as you're purchasing the quadcopter/Cessna/sailplane/warbird that you're wanting to help your kid learn to fly?

Plus, if a club is willing to help you get set up, explain the AMA membership benefits (and requirements to fly at their field), AND give you a discount for membership, along with the club perks (4th of July and Labor Day BBQs at the field, a section for fixed wing pilots and a separate field area for heli pilots, as well as a separate drone racing area, camping nights with night fly events, free flight training from club instructors, etc.), wouldn't that go a long way in making you feel more welcome than saying, "Well, you had money to buy a plane...Fork over more now to join us, because if you can afford the plane, you can afford to join the club."

I guess maybe I'm frustrated, and maybe it's just the "old guard" way of thinking, and maybe they need to take a back seat so that new members can feel welcome - a lot of maybes.

Anyone else experience this? And what have you done to change the minds of...well..."the old way" of thinking?
 
#2
My club is maybe a tad younger than yours. I'd say the majority are in their 50's with a healthy amount of both 65+ and 30's/40's. I know a regular topic is finding more members. Think our roster was 40ish last I heard.

They have been nothing but welcoming to me and another Father/Son (teenager) that have joined over the past few years. Must just be the differences in clubs.
 

Hai-Lee

Old and Bold RC PILOT
#3
Some of the "Oldies" will never accept a youth program mainly because they like being the empowered elite. As for young club members they really are vital for a clubs continued existence. I have seen many RC clubs here disband due to a lack of members partly due to their fee structures and attitude to new, trainee, pilots.

There is a chance that even your approach is a little too rigid in thought. Try a different approach and tailor your approach to overwhelm the objections you have been facing.

Accept that some will want to buy that expensive plane and setup and having plenty of cash that perhaps that they should pay "Full Fare". Try a flight school concept where you or someone else similarly motivated hold a school concept where each new student BUILDS their own plane (FT designs are still free), and even consider that the club could supply such materials as part of their membership fees.

When built the students who have supplied their own electronics are taught on their FT style trainer aircraft how to fly and have proved their abilities then if the students decide to continue you could still allow them to grow in the sport/hobby at a junior membership fee which has limited voting rights allowing the elderly to continue to feel empowered.

Here I have a program of gifting a FT style trainer when a member joins to learn. The club does not subsidise the gifts but the cost is actually small really. After a few months those who join are quite proficient and move onto FT style designs of their own choosing. We do not allow high speed or extremely high power models until a student can demonstrate that they are proficient.

Finally you could arrange either special times or days when the oldies are not let out of their retirement homes to gather the youngens together and have an unrestricted flying session. Things like combat, speed trials, Pylon races, and even LAST man flying are normally not viewed as proper by the elderly but are great fun for those with youth and FT on their side.

What works here!

Have fun!
 

PsyBorg

Wake up! Time to fly!
Mentor
#4
Go back in and try again. This time walk in with gift bags prepared.

When one of the old geezers complains hand him a gift bag and let him know as more and more of them kick the bucket their dues and work on the field will increase if they don't start adding new members. In the gift bag have a depends diaper and a few skittles in a bag labeled "Geritol" and a small tube of Ben-gay for them.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#5
My club is maybe a tad younger than yours. I'd say the majority are in their 50's with a healthy amount of both 65+ and 30's/40's. I know a regular topic is finding more members. Think our roster was 40ish last I heard.

They have been nothing but welcoming to me and another Father/Son (teenager) that have joined over the past few years. Must just be the differences in clubs.
I hope you're right. I'm going to participate in the local Maker Faire next month with several of the older members who want to bring in fresh blood, and we're going to have some drones as well as FT planes (I've got a Duster I've got on my work bench that I need to finish, as well as a Racer that I want to build up for kids to see; an injection of Disney into the hobby is SURE to catch the attention of the younger crowd), so maybe that'll spark the interest. :)

As for the events you are mentioning, that's the odd thing - the "elites" are the ones having fun with Combat and Shuffleboard as of late at the field.

And we do have Monday night training sessions where our flight instructors are doing one heck of a job training people on how to fly some Apprentice S15's, as well as working on takeoffs and landings with their own planes (I was fortunate enough that, when I got my "pilot's license", I had my dad's Apprentice S15 that I solo'd on, scaring him half to death that I was going to crash it, but I managed to bring it safely - in a crosswind, no less).

It seems to be just those old guys who don't want us to bring in crazy flying things. I made a flying pig and it was looked upon with disdain. There's a guy further south who has built a flying Dumbo, and was summarily told he wasn't welcome at our field because he wasn't a member. (I get it, if you're a regular at a particular field where everyone's a member, JOIN UP; if you're there once or twice a year for a fun fly/event, at an invite, or to check out the field, and you're an AMA member, they should let you fly in the spirit of goodwill for the club).

I'm just glad that the president and most of the club officers are on my side - the president especially sees that we've got a growing interest in the drones, in some of the crazier FT builds, and just having fun, and wants the younger crowd to join up.
 

cranialrectosis

Faster than a speeding faceplant!
Mentor
#6
New way of thinking:
Drone Space

The crowd is too young for an old geezer (49 today) like me. It's like a Chuck E Cheese in there.

As far as the local AMA club is concerned, I found it simpler and cheaper to join the local rifle club. Sure ammo costs more than props but I have a $200 .22lr rifle that I have had for 40 years to the day now.

Not many planes last that long; well, not planes that I fly anyway.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#7
New way of thinking:
Drone Space

The crowd is too young for an old geezer (49 today) like me. It's like a Chuck E Cheese in there.

As far as the local AMA club is concerned, I found it simpler and cheaper to join the local rifle club. Sure ammo costs more than props but I have a $200 .22lr rifle that I have had for 40 years to the day now.

Not many planes last that long; well, not planes that I fly anyway.
I know of a great place right off the freeway that used to be an Ashley Home Furnishings location. Lots of windows, two story location that you could have multiple tracks set up on...Problem is, it wouldn't make enough to keep the rent going for that location; the owner wants $10k/mo for it since it's a "prime freeway location." (Never mind that right outside of the parking lot, it's a sketchy neighborhood, that's what the owner wants - and he wonders why it's been vacant for over 3 years)
 

UCChris

MO Flight Crew
#8
As a college student that is into airplanes, I would drop this hobby so fast if I had to pay to be a part of a club to fly my airplanes. I don't have a spare $75, let alone $200, for club fees. Hell, some weeks I don't have a spare $4 for some more props.

There's a reason I fly a cheap airplane on a cheap DXe.

I run into this a lot at my job, since I shoot target archery as my primary hobby/semi-sponsored. I see kids come in to practice on our indoor range after saving their pennies to buy a decent $150 beginner recurve. Their faces fall when they realize it costs $9 to shoot per day. It's not conducive to growing the sport and it makes me pretty annoyed.
 

jamboree1

Active member
#9
sprzout, I hear ya. I don't live to far from you so my local AMA club has the same mentality. I only been there twice and I did not appreciate their "structure" and rules etc... Neither did the 20 or so others I regularly fly with at a local church's field. a lot of the guys i fly with don't have money issues but they don't like to be told on how, when, what to fly. And as the "kid" I'm 40 something, can't remember exact, I get nominated for the more physically demanding jobs like aircraft recovery, hand launches etc. This group is self governing and we all have a blast.
 

jamboree1

Active member
#10
I also want to note that any RC club requiring a person to be a member of the AMA is donkey sheet, seriously what good is that? And don't tell me "insurance" the AMA insurance is also donkey sheet.
 

PsyBorg

Wake up! Time to fly!
Mentor
#11
Happy Bday mate!!!

One more year and you join the halfway to dead club with me!!!!


GAH.. was gonna reply to Jamboreee and realized I never hit post reply on what I already have written above.. Sorry Cranial

Anyway usually its not the club that requires it but the people whos property they use / lease who require the insurance as mandatory to help keep their insurance levels down. Its all a scam as with any insurance. I am living proof you can pay that crap for 40+ years and when you need it they manufacture ways to getting out of paying up but its still all legally forced upon us.

The other reason to be part of AMA if you are a club is that they do have grants to help manage or upgrade your fields if your club bothers to apply and work towards getting the grants.
 

rockyboy

Skill Collector
Mentor
#12
Our club requires AMA membership as it's part of the agreement with the county. In order to use the fields we have to ensure all members carry the liability insurance and follow a set of safety rules and it's written into our property use agreement. And about every other year we score the $1,000 AMA field improvement grant to make the field a nicer place to fly.

Luckily our club is also (mostly) welcoming of anything radio control that flies - from choppers to race drones to ARFs to giant scale. And we've got a fair number of younger folks - maybe 10-15% of the club is in their 30s or younger. But it takes continual work to keep a couple of the grumpy old farts from spoiling someones excitement.
 

willsonman

Builder Extraordinare
Mentor
#13
I hear this time and again and it seems this issue is discussed ad nauseum just as frequently. Perhaps the real issue is your dues in the first place. I'm the treasurer of our club and with only around 30 active pilots in our club the $50 dues keep us dead even with our field rent, charter, and minor things to just maintain the field, let alone improve it. The other side of that is if your club was to consider lowering your dues, some may object as it will "filter out the riff raff." I've heard this argument before as well.

This said, there are a couple of teenagers that fly in my club and they are great guys. There are old farts too and they are love just the same. Just over a decade ago my club endured through an attempted take-over by some domineering guys that has continued to keep our attitude very strictly to the tune of "do everything you can to not piss of the neighbors so we can keep the field open." We nearly lost a place to fly and all the assets the club had because a small group of guys wanted to make the club more exclusive/selective. All we want is a place to fly. No drama, no events (unless YOU plan it). Whenever a new member comes to the field or a guest arrives, we convey this. We just want a place to fly. The alternative is a far more sad state than having to deal with grumpy membership.

I tell you this to convey that this attitude is not only prohibiting growth of the club but in fact can damage it worse in its current condition.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#14
I also want to note that any RC club requiring a person to be a member of the AMA is donkey sheet, seriously what good is that? And don't tell me "insurance" the AMA insurance is also donkey sheet.
Here's the thing with the AMA - it provides structure, and right now, with the climate of increased paranoia from the non-fliers who see anything in the air as a way to spy on someone (my father used to be that way, until I gave him a "ride" on my drone flight, and he realized how hard it was to actually spy on people), it's providing a tiny bit of protection from having to get the FCC Part 107 license.

That structure that I referred to is a good thing for a lot of people. I've seen people flying where they really shouldn't be flying (i.e., in the flight path of landing planes! Seriously!?! Does common sense with these things NOT exist?), and I've seen my club offer safety and support in learning to fly. So, in that respect, having a place to fly IS a good thing. I have people who are willing to help teach me, and help provide a place to fly where the public doesn't harass us for flying. It's a fine line. I get that people don't like organizations telling them what to do or how to act, but, in this case, I like that people are supportive and willing to get together to fly. I just don't like the attitude of the older folks who want it to be an "elite" club and keep out those who can't necessarily afford it. They're willing to give scholarships to schools/colleges each year, but reducing costs for a new member to get them hooked? I kinda have a hard time with that.

I keep working and hoping that'll change. I want people to have fun, I want people to be part of a group that has fun, that shares knowledge, and does it in a safe and sane manner.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#17
On a side note here....

I just watched the latest FT video and want to say congratz to Sprzout. They have awarded you one of those planes as a thank you for all the effort you put forth here. Well done mate!(y):):cool:

Wow!!! I gotta say, that's a HUGE surprise to me. :) I'm humbled by the fact that they're willing to send me a plane for the help that I've been offering. It's not why I post, obviously; I do it because it's a really fun hobby and I've gotten bit by the bug. :)
 

French

Construire Voler S'écraser Répéter
#18
👏👍 for Sprzout

I haven’t found a club to call home, nor have I joined AMA. I’m not adverse to the idea of joining, I just haven’t found where it’s a benefit to me. I mainly fly my quads and mini planes in small parks and sports complexes. There is a local club, but the photos on the website suggests they are all about big balsa gassers...
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#19
👏👍 for Sprzout

I haven’t found a club to call home, nor have I joined AMA. I’m not adverse to the idea of joining, I just haven’t found where it’s a benefit to me. I mainly fly my quads and mini planes in small parks and sports complexes. There is a local club, but the photos on the website suggests they are all about big balsa gassers...
I COMPLETELY understand that. My father's club, everyone there wants to fly these warbirds. Mine, it's a lot of 3D flight (which is cool; it takes a lot of skill to do that, that's for certain) but there's a push for quads to come in at my field. I get where you don't see the benefits - and for you, it's not there. For me, I see and reap the benefits. :)
 

SlingShot

Maneuvering With Purpose
#20
I visited the club field close to me 2 weeks ago and met a few of the guys. Not ancients but no youngsters either. I just put together a Mini Arrow so I will soon be introducing the concept of foamboard frugality. I'm curious to see the attitude these guys have regarding youngblood.