Should I join the local R/C club?


Legendary member
I started flying from a local park.
Then found out (from a NOT so friendly officer) that I needed a permit to fly in any city park ($15.)
The park closes at dark (no cool night flights)
and there's often people letting their dogs run free (I would say "moving targets, but this is a family channel.) :LOL:
It is also near a river and frequently floods to the point they close the whole park... (like it is currently)

So I joined the local club.
At first they were a little stand offish.
They smirked when I mentioned foamboard aircraft.
Then I brought in the XF viper (Ben's design) in local colors... their attitude changed!

So, I say give it a go.... I spent about a year and quite a bit of money "learning" (read crashing) on my own that probably would have been covered in one or two sessions with a mentor! (tip 1 & 2, easy on the sticks and you don't HAVE to fly full throttle!)

Plus (here's a little secret) about every two or three meetings guys have brought in old (but still working) equipment that they just want to see go to a good home (iow get used!) so you might just get your dues back in antiquated equipment/project planes... ;)

Good Luck whatever you choose (it's easy for us to spend your money!) :LOL:
AND welcome to the community!


Knower of useless information
My $0.02, for what it's worth...

Join the club.

You'll have camaraderie with people, they'll admire your planes, help you out with crashes, and, best of all, provide you with a place to fly that is ESTABLISHED. This means that you're less likely to get chased off of flying at that location than you would, say, flying at a local park/baseball field where it's questionable.

I live in California, where, as soon as you pull a quadcopter out, people instantly become suspicious and want to harass you for flying because they think you're spying on them and want to look at them. When I've had people encounter me with that, I tell them, "Here's a backup set of goggles. Let me show you what I CAN see, when I'm flying." It changes, but there are still ignorant people that want to smack it out of the sky or shoot it because they think that's their right. Flying over a flying field, they tend to calm down a bit because you're not "spying" on them.

As for flying foamboard aircraft, my club has actually been really cool about it. My first plane that I showed up with was the FT Sea Duck, and it kinda blew everyone away - here's this plane with roughly 5' of wingspan, no wheels, meant to fly off of the water, and I'm flying it off of our runway by belly takeoffs and landings! On top of that, because I haven't painted it up, it looks like I'm flying a cardboard plane because of the brown of the water resistant foam board. :)

The club loves it, and they love the fact that I've come in with some really creative, goofy ideas for flying. I actually made a flying pig out of foamboard (It did NOT fly well at all; it got about 10 feet off the ground, then spiraled in and died, which was hilarious to everyone at the field, myself included), and people LOVED it.

There was also the training/buddy boxing that taught me how to fly (every Monday night, starting at about 5 pm, once the time changes, our club has training, where we put people up on buddy boxes and teach them to fly on club trainer planes, which are a bunch of Apprentice S-15s), and I have since gone on to help others fly their planes from that experience. It's a lot of help to the club that I volunteer for, it's a lot of fun, and I'm more than happy to help out others when I can.

One other thing that joining the club has helped me to do is volunteering in community services. I don't have kids (wife and I aren't able to), but I like kids. Having the club backing allows me to go out and show the kids how to get involved with RC, or even just learn how to fly simple chuck gliders at various community events like Maker Faires and street faires, which then brings them into the field - which is exactly what the club wants; fresh new blood to come out and fly. Plus, seeing these kids come out and "stir the sticks" and fly planes is great.

Now, what you're quoting for fees seems a little odd to me; I've never heard of a club charging "initiation fees" before, but to be honest, their fees aren't much different than my club's fees.

We have the AMA fees of $75/year that are required (that's because we're a charter club; the AMA provides insurance at the field for where we fly, as well as lists us as a flying site nationally), and our dues for adults are $200/year, $75/year for seniors, and $20/year for kids. Our club also has ways to reduce those fees by something we call "Palomar Dollars", where you get out and do weedwhacking/brush clearing at the field, work community events, volunteer at the monthly "Combat" events as a scorekeeper, etc. so it reduces the fees. Is it worth it? Heck yes, when I think about it. We throw a huge 4th of July BBQ every year, we have glider aerotow, jet events, heli events, and I've just become the drone chair where we're going to begin racing events this year at the field. :)

I think the club IS worth it, but it's all in how you view it. Does it pay for YOU to have a dedicated flying site, a location where you can take your kids (if you have them) and fly safely, learn how to fly and trade stories of crashes and see other nice planes fly? Or would you rather save that money and find somewhere that might upset neighbors, questionable locations that might not be legal to fly at but you can get away with it now and again, and fly by yourself? That's up to you. And, you may have areas near you where it's perfectly fine to fly, and don't need the club; for me, in Southern California, where there's a lot of scrutiny (and a lot of municipal airports/air traffic), the clubs are a benefit. :)


Elite member
I will echo a lot of what's been said so far, join it, and see how it goes! There are so many positives to being part of a club. When I started in the hobby, I had the same doubts as you and wanted to avoid the expense. However, when I went to college I joined the RC on campus (which was free to students). The amount of positive feedback, help, and discounted equipment I was offered gave me a kick start into the hobby. I've now been a member at several clubs in various parts of the country, and even the most stuck in their ways members will come around given time. The dues will pay for themselves in terms of what you will save learning to fly at a club, between technical help, equipment, and buddy boxing. And if you ever decide to fly a complex aircraft with retracts, you will have a nice runway to fly from. Having that prepared surface alone will save you from a lot of damage trying to land in less-than-perfect locations. And besides, you might have a ton of fun!