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R/C flying field visitors

Visitors at the Flying field

Have you ever visited an R/C flying field as a spectator? If so, has this ever happen to you? Here’s the scenario: I’m a sole body standing in the spectator area. Just a few feet away, on the other side of the fence, there are about a dozen pilots doing exactly what we do at my home club field: Fly, fix and gab. However the so-called spectator safety fence I’m leaning against might as well be a one-way mirror. I can see them but they can’t see me. Not much different from a zoo exhibit where the animals go about their daily lives oblivious to spectators.

After a lengthy visit and having no interaction at all with anybody, I leave and not with a good opinion about the club. Sure, I could have caught somebody’s attention with a question or even said hello first but nobody would even glance my way long enough to have that opportunity. Trying to speaking with a club member in that situation would be similar to throwing rocks at the zoo animals to get their attention.

Not expecting the membership to roll out the red carpet for my visit. Just simply acknowledging my presence by looking my way and saying “hello” would make all the difference in the world.

Over the years I have visited many clubs in my travels and have found for the most part modelers are some of the friendliest individuals anywhere. Unfortunately the scenario I described above has happened more than a couple of times. I’ve had discussions with others about this and learned that it actually happens frequently. One non-modeler said to me, after I told him that I fly R/C and where; “At least you’re not one of those [explicative] at [xyz club]”. I’ll give you one guess why he felt that way.

I don’t get it? What exactly is the mind-set here? What would cause an entire group to develop an elitist mentality and completely ignore visitors? They know somebody is standing there with an interest in what is going on, but yet each person is making a conscious decision to be rude. This attitude not only reflects poorly on the club but it reflects on the hobby.

Should be very apparent this bugs me so I have a challenge for all of my fellow modelers out there. We need to make up for the bad seeds so whenever or wherever you are enjoying this wonderful hobby and you see an unfamiliar face observing the action from outside the pit area, go introduce yourself and take a moment to talk with them. If you don’t have time, at the very least say Hi to them while walking past. This single simple gesture from you just may be the key that keeps them from developing a poor opinion of the club and the R/C community as a whole.

One additional point; you never know what an interaction with a visitor will lead to. Several years ago while at my home club field I noticed a gentleman watching our planes fly from his car. I went into parking lot to introduce myself and possibly answer any questions he may have. Today that guy is our club secretary. Was it my effort that made a difference to make him join the club? I don’t know, but it certainly did not hurt.

Have you ever been ignored as a visitor at a club? Do you have an opinion on the matter I would love to hear it? The “speak your mind” section is open and waiting for your input.



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  1. Scott Marshall says:

    I come back to the disipline at age 54 as a born again modeler, I dabbled in cars and planes back during the early 80s, but have been shooting Muzzleloaders competitively since then. The same type of “eliteism” exists there too, more common as you get to the clubs where they take themselves too seriously. I think it’s human nature more than the sport/activity.
    I’ve been an official almost as long as I’ve been shooting, and have always taught and practiced a welcoming attitude to spectators. My goal was to have the prospective participant shooting before they left, and always carried an extra beginners rifle, supplies and safety gear in my truck. A tomahawk throw works well for those too young or timid to shoot right off. Many of our current officials came into the group that way.

    Now that I’m flying regularly at a club (can’t shoot anymore, neck problems), I find myself doing the same thing, I keep a easy to fly trainer in the fleet, ready for someone interested to fly after I get it 3 mistakes high. Once you get them in the air, they’re hooked!
    It’s an individual choice, but one outgoing, friendly person can change the whole clubs attitude.
    I personally much prefer to welcome a new person to the group. I was welcomed into my club warmly once I made contact, and happily pay it foward any chance I get. I’d like to think most of us in the flying sports feel the same, and the ‘elitests” who ignore or belittle newcomers are in the minority.

  2. Rob Knox says:

    G’day Scott,
    I was introduced to the hobby of RC flying by my brother back in 2010.
    He’d been flying for about 30 years at that stage, and got me flying on a Park Zone T28.

    I’ve flown some IC (gassers) and a whole lotta electric foamies.

    I too have experienced the “one way mirror syndrome” at model fields before I started flying. It is one of those things which I was determined not to do. In fact I have introduced afew people to flying RC from the fence. I was even instrumental in bringing one old campaigner back to RC flying after an 8 year hiatus.

    I have even experienced the one way mirror syndrome from people, who I thought were friends, because my chosen models are 99% of the electric foamie variety, and they are the talented type who scratch build and fly giant warbirds. It’s rather disappointing really, particularly as I have gone out of my way to support them at their big fly-ins by providing some kind of work assistance prior to and during the events.
    Here in Oz, we have a saying for that kind of treatment, F You mate, I’ll fly somewhere else, and that’s what I’ve done.
    I am a big fan of those big, scratch built models, and really admire those who build and fly them, but I don’t think I deserve to be ostracized because I only fly foamies…… Most of my foamies have been customised and look pretty good. I fly them well, and in a scale way so that even my 1.5m warbirds look pretty darned impressive.

    Mate, some people just aren’t going to speak to you from the privileged side of the fence, mainly because the are too wrapped up in themselves and, believe it or not, are socially awkward and just do not know how to start a conversation with the plebs on the other side of the fence. It is flaw in their personalities.

    It’s up to the rest of us, the more gregarious personality types, to engage the non-flying observer and make them feel welcome, and maybe introduce them to the joys of RC flying.


  3. Rob, You certainly touched on another subject that could be an entire article on itself, and thats the elitist attitude based on what type of flying, or type of aircraft that interest an individual. Again not something that I’ve found to be very common but it does exist. I just don’t get it!

  4. Joe Horvath says:

    The notion of relationships is not given enough attention at just about all clubs. For example, rarely do club rules include being open, friendly, and inviting. Safety rules typically do not address relationship issues within the club and with spectators.

    While it is certainly important to address the field, aircraft, and flying skill in all clubs, maybe it’s time to think outside the box and include people and their interactions.

  5. Zakly! Well said there. I visited one of our local clubs by myself this past summer as a spectator and also wondered if maybe visitors watching the activities were a bother. I left after 30 or 40 minutes of bleacher occupation.

    My son in law and I then purchased an Apprentice 15e and did some park flying/crashing. I took him then to the Omahawks field, thinking we’d be ignored but the son in law is a talkative one, who doesn’t let a chance to gab go by, and we asked two or three pilots several questions and we were met with open arms ya could say.

    Maybe it’s us who can learn something, maybe it’s not always “them”? I joined the club, am building a 4-Star 40 and look forward to learning a lot this next year!

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