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Old 10-13-2007, 10:37 AM   #21
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Over the years our club has gone through many membership ups and downs as well. We had a big push on a few years back and attracted many new members. Our membership at that time was up to 120. It usually floats around the 100 mark.
Our club has done the air cadet thing....
Air, mall and family fun days..........
Great training program........
Invited the media and have even had the RCMP helicopter show up at two of our Heli meets............

Attracting new member is easier than keeping them in my opinion......

I think the the flyer of today is an individual that has to attempt something new. He comes from a society (young or old) that needs the latest in technology and adventure to satisfy their need. Once mastered the seem to move on and find something new........Arfs attract these people,........... some stay ...........

Why is it that the scale modeller, Imac participant, Heli jockey have been bitten hard? is because that somewhere along the way they found a group or individual in the hobby that has helped them to attain the satisfaction to remain in the hobby.
We have had two treasurers in our club(that lasted for years) that hardly ever flew but sure wanted to be involved...........

We should also look within to inspire fellow members to stay.....
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Old 10-14-2007, 08:30 AM   #22
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I think something you folks are missing is that the newer generation of potential flyers are generally looking for instant gratification. Even the relatively little effort required to build an ARF is too much time lost. Nevermind the time that they'd have to spend driving to/from the field.

Dedicating an entire morning/afternoon (and a weekend one at that) is just too big a time sink in their hectic lives. Not to mention the financial investment.

I think this is part of what's growing the parkflyer segment of the hobby.

Or, there's the fellow that I know (and can sometimes sympathize with) who wants nothing to do with a club, because he's not a people person. He just wants to fly his parkflyers in peace, when he wants to fly them, and not have to wait for airspace or his frequency to be free.

As for the guy flying his .30-sized electric at a park and crashing into somebody's house - I doubt it'll happen. How many .40 sized glow trainers have crashed into houses lately (or in the last 20 years, for that matter)? This is just alarmist claptrap. Anyone who's sunk that much change into a .30-sized conversion ($400-$600) isn't likely going to risk it in a crowded suburban park. You're more likely going to find hopped-up foamies, like the kid in California who flew his brushless flying wing through a school window.

So why are club memberships declining? Because we have the up-and-coming generation of retirees who want quick gratification close to home, without having to be inconvenienced. If they're going to drive anywhere, it's going to be to the golf course.


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but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
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Old 10-14-2007, 03:08 PM   #23
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I have to agree that we are probably well into the instant gratification generation, so I am filling that instant gratification need just like every other type of business found out they had to do.

It is so easy to find fault and to explain the problem, but it's a lot harder to find solutions. I am offering that solution, but it seems too many for the most part have thrown up their hands, since in their minds, if it is a social problem, no one can change anyone's (instant gratification) mindset.

My theory is if teaching people to fly was much easier, more veteran fliers wouldn't mind doing it, in fact, some would prefer teaching and giving hands-on promotion to personal flying.

As it is now, the public is told, that is if they can find someone to ask, is that crashing is all but assured in the learning stages and probably there on. Also, to join a club, buy the equipment, build rather than buy an ARF, and there will always be someone around to teach them. The old hand makes it look very easy, but the newbie doesn't have a clue of the long, hard road he has to travel to learn to have fun flying.

He isn't aware of the following journey to earning safe solo status:

How about that being the main reason for the decline in some club's membership?

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Old 10-18-2007, 10:37 AM   #24

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Under 40

My Dad was in the air force so I was always fascinated with flight. As a kid I started with plastic models and then built and flew stick and tissue models. I may not have if there had been video games and more than two fuzzy channels.

I think a lot more people would get involved in RC if they had a similar background and thats why most of those you meet in the hobby are over 40 or influenced closely by someone who is. I don't see any riveting adds for Top Flite warbirds or 33% Sukhoi kits on television but I do see adds for Halo 3. Kids are certainly a lot less mechanically inclined than their fathers and grandfathers now.

The world has changed and so has the way people spend their leisure time. I'm sure that we will continue to see a decline in interest particularily when it is getting harder to find a place to fly.
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Old 10-18-2007, 10:56 AM   #25
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Long ago, I built an r/c trainer called the Dragonfly (Tex Newman design IIRC) It was 6' span, weighed nothing, a huge insect powered by a 1cc diesel. I would take it out to the field every week, and anyone who wanted to could try it. Switch on, flip the prop, and it would motor around the field at ~10mph, slow enough so that any raw beginner could get the hang of controlling it, big enough to be seen easily, awkwardly graceful enough to keep one's attention.

Eventually, there was about 1/2 dozen of them built, and we all had a great time with them, PARTICULARLY the beginners. Did all who flew that model stay in the hobby? Of course not, but we did gain a very large group, some stayed, some moved into other facets of the hobby, some were never seen again. Others yet got caught in thermals and were so mesmerized by the experience that they became part of the sailplane group! Sales of Gentle Ladys skyrocketed in the area.

But, unlike the local club, we taught a lot of people the basics of radio control. We promoted the hobby like few mall shows every could. No politics, no huge set of rules, no dues, we just had fun. Oooo, maybe that's the wrong approach... :P
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Old 10-18-2007, 10:56 AM   #26
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This hobby has always been a niche hobby at best. It has always appealed to those quirky individuals who are not intimidated by complexity.

Trying to appeal to those instant gratification individuals is a huge waste of time, you might get them out to the field but the first difficulty is going to send them running back to their first-person shooter consoles.

I hate to be negative but I think the less sweat equity involved, the lower the retention since there is little invested and therefore little reward.

No, we are not the best salesmen for the hobby but, we can do more. Underselling the rewards of investing in "the nasty details" is a disservice and places the hobby on an equal footing with video games and kewl gadgets, something we will never be able to compete with since flying is not simple nor is it forgiving.

Start by admittting the risks but push the rewards. Don't belittle the achievements we manage ... it's not easy to create a functional aircraft and fly it in a controlled manner that permits re-use. Be real, and you'll be more appealing. Instant gratification types may not understand what it is that they are questing for but ... they will recognize it when they find it ... they just don;t have the background to comprehend the investment in time and effort required for the greater reward.

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Si fractum non sit, noli id reficere - (If it ain't broke, don't fix it).
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Old 10-18-2007, 02:47 PM   #27
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I'm 100% with you Jim

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Old 10-18-2007, 03:11 PM   #28
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I have been an instructor for a good number of years and when I first started flying We did the "hand the radio back and forth" thing, there were no buddy boxes. I like every other instructor switched to buddy boxes when they became available but I will tell you truthfully, I found that it actually took longer to teach most students when using a buddy box. For some reason many become relyant on having someone tethered to them ready to take over in an instant if they think they are losing control and just won't take the next step!

I would then take up the plane, unplug the buddy cord, and hand the student the master TX I would stand by for just a minute or two and walk away telling them they fly and land or crash, its up to them. NEVER once did the student crash! I of course make sure I know the student can absolutely handle it. They just have to take that step to find out that they can do it.

I for one, really like flyers1 method of going back ,if you would, to just one TX with hands on with the student. Its easy and very efficient and the student will learn so much faster to get the feel of the sticks, gaining greater confidence in himself, thus solo in just a couple of outings rather than taking the whole summer where many get discouraged and quit before being able to do so.

Talking about instant gratification, younger ones especially don't want to take weeks to get their wings. If it doesn't happen sooner than later, they'll be gone and thats a fact! Once you get them on their own they learn so much faster and are more likely to want to keep coming back rather than being tethered to a chatting instructor constantly issueing orders! We do have many young ones coming out during a summer for insturction, its just that only a small percentage stick it out. Maybe this will be the incentive they and me and the Club were looking for?

Thats how I see it personally anyway! I am definitely going to give flyers1's method a good try and we'll see how it works out.
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Old 10-18-2007, 07:40 PM   #29
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Jim and Gary make sense. Teaching r/c is an art form, but there are easy ways and hard ways. I never use a buddy box either, just the over-the-shoulder corrections. These are easier with a sailplane, but again I go back to the Dragonfly: people would say, "Oh, no, it is far beyond me" I would say watch this, and wind the stick around and around. The model would not react at all, so they felt better about taking over the tx. Nest thing you know, you can't get the tx away from them! The engine quits, they panic, I would just say, "aim it at your own head" and a successful landing ensued, nearly every time.

Make it easy for them, they will be back!
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Old 10-18-2007, 11:25 PM   #30
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All your comments

Hi Fellas,

I've read all your comments and agree with most. I am fairly new to RC but have been interested almost my whole life. I'm a little older than the "instant gratification" generation. I first became interested in RC when an enthusiast took the TIME to talk to me, a youngster, and to help me rebuild a CL model that my father crashed for me.

Having just begun, I can tell you some of the factors which almost made me lose interest, and I'm an exception because I've always been extremely passionate about RC and aircraft in general.

1. I got discouraged by the club fees and MAAC fees. I just soaked a good portion of my disposable income into buying RC equipment, and then I got nailed for an additional $200 before I could even think about getting an instructor! I'm not sure there's much that can be done, but honest advice would've alleaviated some of the stress. Part of the surprise was my own fault for not doing enough research. Perhaps MAAC could implement a "1st season, no fees" policy??? That way, you've hooked them in...

2. When I did get to the field as a paid member with a MAAC card, few even acknowledged that I was there. The president of the club (for good reason, if you ask me) offered to look over my plane, and became my instructor. I now consider him a friend and a valuable asset to our club. I wish there were more like him.

3. Fun Flys. When you invite the public to a show...give them a show. Our club field is a 40 minute drive for me. If I was "Joe Public" and drove all that way to see planes in the air, and found a bunch of guys sitting around and no planes....

I know you guys love to fly...strut your stuff!!!

4. Fun Flys (continued). My experience has been that there are a large number of people interested in trying the club's public-interest-generating trainers, but few willing to take them up. The burden cannot be handled by one instructor...get involved. More members means reduced fees!

These are just the things I've noticed and things that I have done something about. There's a huge age gap at our club, and it sounds like that's common. I think it's intimidating for the newbies. We have to be adaptable and approachable. There must be 100's of ways to get memberships up but I think our main priorities should be to generate interest, and keep them interested (racing, combat, etc). More young people attract more young people...

Just my 2 cents worth
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Director - Lakehead Aeromodellers

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