"Maximizing Opportunities for Success" Spring 2021 Things to Consider...

23 Apr 2021 10:52 PM | Daren (Administrator)

Every new season brings aero modelers, the hobby and our clubs challenges.  Some are new challenges, some are old, some productive and some, well, not so much!  As we come into the 2021 season, punctuated by an unprecedented world pandemic in 2020 that appears to be in the beginning stages of a recovery (thank goodness!), let’s all take some time to reflect, review, resolve and, if necessary, rethink the way we go about “maximizing opportunities for success” in our modeling and the operations of our clubs.  It’s all about relationships.  Relationships with each other, land owners, community and government agencies.  Let’s make 2021 a banner year for model aviation.


These observations and opinions are based on:  a lifetime career in the aviation industry, a lifetime (with the standard deviations) of aero modeling, volunteer roles within AMA as club officer and president at different clubs, a Leader member for outreach, advocacy and education, an AVP- Associate VP for District 1 and involvement (at different levels) with most disciplines in the hobby and a few SIGs (Special Interest Groups) including IMAC and the Gas Turbine Program.  In addition to sharing modeling concerns and subjects with my fellow AVPs and VPs within District 1 and beyond I have been blessed to learn from and have discussions with aero modelers throughout the world about the few differences but many similarities of the aero modeling experience.  I am further blessed to have been mentored by some extremely talented and experienced modelers.  Finally, my experience with public and educational outreach as well as model aviation advocacy provides a unique perspective.  Working with school administrators and teachers and dealing with local, state and federal governments from outside our immediate modeling community reveals the importance of relationships necessary for aero modeling to co-exist and thrive as a valued community-based activity.


1. What is Aero modeling? Model aviation?  In the broadest and simplest terms- the activity of flying models.  ANY and ALL flying models are a part of model aviation.  One of the greatest benefits of our hobby and aviation is its extreme diversity.  That’s a good thing.  To exercise any prejudice toward any particular discipline of our hobby is often destructive and never productive for the hobby as a whole.  I’ve been quoted in forums and blogs saying “you can be a limited club or a restricted club with various reasons but you should ALWAYS be a welcoming club”.  If a discipline doesn’t “fit” your club and a person is brave enough to come check your club out for goodness’ sake welcome them to the hobby we all love, show them what you do, express an interest (out of courtesy if nothing else) in what they do.  If necessary, help direct them to a club with a better fit.  That way they leave with a positive experience about you, your club, AMA and the hobby.  Being unwelcoming and negative is poison to our hobby and your club.


2. Clubs and land owners/ managers, it’s all about relationships.  Whatever arrangement you have at your club, a positive relationship with the land owner, manager or community is crucial to survival.  That could not be truer than right now as we are at the dawn of AMA being officially recognized as the premiere CBO- Community Based Organization and the application for FRIAs- FAA Recognized Identification Areas coming soon.  Our clubs and the members are community members and voters.  Leaders outside the modeling hobby need to be informed and educated on the “community good” that clubs and modeling offer on many levels- education outreach, public event outreach, fundraising efforts, enjoyable wholesome activity for all ages, etc.  This information should never be assumed to be known beyond the hobby community.  It must be cultivated and nurtured by officers and members.  Town boards, land ownership, Park managers all change over time, a land management club liaison or committee is a great way to keep the channels of communication open.  A note on communicating with land owners and managers.  They generally do not fully understand the hobby and the different forms of model aviation.  They are concerned about their land being treated with respect and limiting any issues.  Speak with them from their perspective, what you would want to hear if you were the owner/ manager.  For instance, meet with them with a group of club officers (who have met prior to develop a strategy to represent the club in the best light possible), a dialogue may go like this- “… the club is in good shape, we have a maintenance plan for the property, we are on constant lookout for any unapproved activities.  Our safety programs are under constant review in order to mitigate any threats, etc…”.  Don’t forget that your AMA district officers have access to additional resources, have experience mitigating incidents and are here to assist clubs and members. Regarding flying sites- All clubs should always have site search on the agenda.  All members should have their eyes opened for possible venues and when spotted, an active relationship should be developed with the owner/ manager.  Flying sites do not all last forever, be on the lookout, always.


3. Club “tone”?  Clubs generally form with like-minded people interested in similar activities.  Model aviation offers so many choices that these interests often change and intertwine, sometimes changing the dynamics of clubs.  Club officers can set the tone.  They are there to represent the membership.  A simple “tone” could be good communications.  Communicate on the flight line, at the flying site, about your intentions and more importantly any concerns you may have.  Communicate, through the channels of the club; meetings, newsletters, social media, email to represent the good of the club and the hobby.  Resolve personal conflict personally.  This alone could solve so many issues.  Thinking from a perspective of “is it good for the club? For the hobby?” has been successful at many clubs.


4. Safety!  So many opinions, so many thoughts, techniques.  AMA has given a great back drop to this subject, the AMA Safety Code and the AMA Safety Handbook.  They do not cover every circumstance, no code, handbook could ever do that.  They are created through a scientific risk mitigation process.  MITIGATION, that’s the key.  Accidents WILL happen.  It’s not about “WHAT” had the accident.  ALL aircraft, ALL power plants (even pure gliders have battery operated receivers and they pose risk) can have accidents, ALL aircraft present threats and risk.  Mitigation does not involve eliminating the “what”.  It’s about what we do to mitigate the risk or threat before a possible accident and what we do after an accident to prevent it from becoming more severe (crash response policy and procedures for ALL aircraft), learning from it and not repeating it.  In aviation safety the safest aircraft is the one that never moves!  So, if we want absolute safety, we don’t fly.  Barring that unrealistic position, we MITIGATE and we manage risk and threats.  How?   Through the use of the Safety Code and Safety Handbook recommendations and suggestions and adding any specific special requirements for a particular operation or venue.  These mitigations vary and can change over time.  They involve analysis of previous accidents, assessment of possible perceived risks, erring to the conservative with procedures when a new operation takes place, easing tighter restrictions with proven performance.  Safety also involves how individuals maintain competence with their flying abilities, regardless on flying discipline.  We all must double and triple check our construction, electronics, assembly, powerplants and perform thorough preflight checks, control checks and post flight checks at a minimum. 

Safety is not about the “What”, it is about the “How”.

 

I truly hope this helps everyone meet this season with a renewed sense of dedication to making our clubs and the hobby thrive.  Have a great 2021 and beyond.  Hope to see you on a flight line.

YOUR PASSION

     YOUR HOBBY

          ONE COMMUNITY

 

Respectfully,

Daren Hudson

AMA District 1 AVP


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