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It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.

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It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.

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Old 04-03-2005, 09:17 PM
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aeajr
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Default It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.

I was just reading through the various posts in this forum when it occurred to me that perhaps the decline in membership, though small, is not really a symptom of like or dislike for the AMA but a change in the value of the clubs. Come along for a ride though time. Let me know what you think after we reach the other end.


Look at the RC market today and what it was, perhaps 25 years ago.


In the past everyone built their models or paid someone to build their models. ARFs and RTFs, from what I am told, were non-existent. Electronics were expensive and primitive by comparison to what we have today.

People needed the clubs because they needed the knowledge and experience of the members to help with picking a plane, building the plane, selecting the electronics, installing it, tuning it in order to get the plane ready for flight. After putting all that time and money investment, you were desperate for someone who knew what they were doing to help you learn to fly it. That was 3-6 months of your time in that model and maybe a weeks pay, or two, in electronics.

The need for help and the investment were high. Trying to go it alone was hard and very expensive. One mistake could wipe you out.

I have met countless people who, when they learn I fly RC planes, tell me the story of how they spent $1000 or more some 10 or more years ago. They either never finished the plane, or after finishing it, they were afraid to fly it because they didn't know anyone who knew how to fly this stuff. One fellow had joined a club, spend almost a year building his trainer and when it was all done, was afraid to fly it. He dropped out of the hobby having never run more than a gallon of fuel through the motor.

There was no Internet so there were no forums. Finding a club was harder than today. Finding other people who knew anything was harder than today. There are at least 4 members in our club who joined because they read my posts and learned about or club.

The club was needed in order to get into the air. The club was also the source of reasonably priced used equipment. Where else were you going to find a used trainer in good condition and someone to show you how to fly it.

The club was needed because everyone was a mechanic and a builder and many were designers. You had to learn how to pick balsa and how to work with amberoid and dope and all that stuff. And you needed a big space that was tended, with a runway, to fly those glow powered planes.


Fast forward to today.

For $150 anyone can walk into the hobby store, or click on the internet, and pick up a very flyable 3 channel electric plane that is very easy to fly. It comes completely built with all the electronics installed, batteries for the radio and the plane and a field charger that work from the car. No fuel, no tuning the motor, no learning about servos or receivers or radios. And if you crash it, chances are you just pick it up and toss it back in the air. Break a wing? $15. In fact pick up an extra wing and a battery and you are still under $200. You will have more time invested in watching the video that comes with it then you will building anything. If you lose it or smash it .... oh well, buy another.

For the cost of a $20 cable I can get a free flight simulator on my computer so I can practice flying without breaking anything. I can put a flight stabilization system in my model for $50 that will pull it out of a dive if I mess up. All I have to do is let go of the sticks.

Used equipment? E-Bay! Recycled equipment abounds and for the most part it is in good condition.

ARFs are everywhere. Even the club builders, who tried like crazy to get me to build my first plane from a kit, even these guys are buying them. The new guys start on RTFs, ARFs or foamie kits which are basically ARFs themselves. Half of these planes will bounce before they break. It is now cheaper to buy an ARF than it is to build it, and that ignores the time it takes to build it.

Help is at your fingertips on the forums. The wisdom of the ages is a click away and you can find products and services with little or no help from anyone.

Electronics are relatively cheap! A three channel 72 MHz radio with two servos, a receiver and a switch cost $49. A 5 channel computer radio, receiver, and 4 servos plus switch and flight battery can be had for under $160 and I can fly 5 different planes with it. And none of these are off brands; this is brand new name brand stuff.

I recently repaired a smashed scale glider that I got from another club member. I had never touched a scale plane before. Did I turn to the wizards of the club to help me fix it? Only a little. I came to the forums. People on the internet taught me how to strip the guts and damage out, how to align the fuse and how to repair the fiberglass. I have 4 or 5 different examples of servo set-up photos sitting in may mail folders.

Net net,

The greatest value that the club brought to the prospective flier was help and information. There was really no other vehicle to get this help other than through the club. The club could help him through the hard task of building a plane and getting it into the air. They could help safeguard that new plane from the crashes that are bound to occur when a new flier tries to fly. He had a big investment of time and money and the club could help him protect it. A lot of this is passing away.

Today you don't need anyone to show me how to build. I have 17 planes in my fleet, 10 flyable, and only 2, both foamies, were built from kits. I have 2 computer radios, two standard radios, about 50 servos, 11 receivers and ..... and I have spent less than $3500 in two years. Compare that to the guy I met who spent over $1000 and never flew the plane.

Friends this is not about me. Most people will not dive in the way I have, but they could. My club has made it easier for me to advance, but it wasn't necessary. But this is not about me, it is about guys like me who are new to this hobby. We can, if we choose to, go it alone and be successful fairly easily.

Don't get me wrong, I belong to a club and I enjoy it a lot. I encourage new flyers to join clubs primarily because it is more fun to fly with other people than to fly alone. For me it is more the social aspect of the club that I enjoy. I like the guys!

Oh, I get a lot of good advice, and have gotten some great deals on used stuff, but I don't have to depend on the club for help. Even if I weren't in a club, full of knowledgeable guys, I could still be flying today and having a great time. And I could find other flyers in my area to fly with very easily. Today you don't need a club for that either.

Finally, the electrics, small, slow and quiet, don't REALLY need that club field with a runway like the big noisy glow and gas planes do. A good hand toss and you are in the air. You can fly a GWS Tigermoth between the baskets on an outdoor or indoor basketball court and the next door neighbor won't even notice you are there.

You can toss an EPP foam ZAGI slope glider off a cliff, smash it head on into a tree, rock or the hill side a dozen times in an hour and just toss it back in the air. Repair? What's that? Oh, you mean will I replace that piece of tape when I get home? Sure!

So, friends, I submit to you that it is NOT the AMA that is out of touch or in need of a tune up, it is the club system. The new flyers just don't feel they need 'em anymore. They don't see the value of the club, and to the average flyer, the club IS the AMA. The AMA as an organization isn't even on their radar screen.

You want to change the trend in membership? You want to bring in the new flyers? Change the club system. How it lives, how it breaths and how it brings in new members. Then you will reverse the AMA membership trend.
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Old 04-03-2005, 09:44 PM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.

The greatest value that the club brought to the prospective flier was help and information.
I don't disagree with most of the comments in your post, but I think you missed the single most significent reason clubs exist.

Apparently, you have something many of us don't. A field to fly at that is not part of a club.
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Old 04-03-2005, 10:10 PM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.

I am in a club and we have a wonderful field and that is where I fly 90% of the time. However when the road to the field was all snowed over, I pulled up to a soccor field, pulled out my parkflyer and gave it a toss! Several of my parkflyer buddies joined me. We had a great time.

The local police stopped to watch for a while, then drove on.

For the small, slow electics, the field is not that big of an issue any more. Many don't need a runway and because they are quiet, you could fly in the back of an office building Mall parking lot on a Sunday afternoon, or a school unused soccer field, and they might not even notice you are there. The unaffiliated new electric flyer can find a place to fly.

That club field is nice, but he doesn't see it as a necessity that he should have to pay $58 to AMA pluse $50 to $200 in annual dues so he has a place to fly. This is the guy who is buying planes like crazy and not joining the AMA or your club.

A park with a couple of baseball diamonds, outfield to outfield is adequate for a Hobbyzone Commander or an Aerobird and is spaceous for a Slo-V.

A 1/2 Acre empty lot is plenty of room for a Slow stick.

The high school football field is plenty of room for a GWS tiger moth or a Mountain Models Dandy!

A deserted beach, out of season is tons of room for Multiplex Micro Jet, a Zagi 400 or an Easy Star.

A lot of discussion in this forum is about what is wrong with the AMA, but the fact is that the value of the club does not look like it is worth it to a lot of these electric guys. They just don't feel they need it.

Oh and BTW, not one of those planes needs a runway to take of or to land.

Are they missing something? Sure, but they are having too much fun to notice.


And the backyard is plenty of room for many electric helos.

So, tell me, what is the value of a club field, with all its rules and regulations, and guys who want to call your plane a toy, when you take the small electrics into account? Many can even be flown indoors.
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Old 04-04-2005, 02:00 AM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.


ORIGINAL: aeajr



That club field is nice, but he doesn't see it as a necessity that he should have to pay $58 to AMA pluse $50 to $200 in annual dues so he has a place to fly. This is the guy who is buying planes like crazy and not joining the AMA or your club.

I hear you!

A while back I tried my first modern electric...an Eflite Ultimate. What a blast! The first day after getting it ready I flew at FIVE places and none was the club field! A sense of freedom long since removed has finally returned.ye ha!
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Old 04-04-2005, 03:29 AM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.

Personally I prefer the club field as I know it is safe and I will not have a problem with someone being unhappy with my flying. I also feel there is less chance of anyone getting hit or hurt. And there is a good chance one or more of my flying buddies will show up.
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Old 04-04-2005, 06:05 AM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.


ORIGINAL: aeajr


Look at the RC market today and what it was, perhaps 25 years ago.

That was 3-6 months of your time in that model and maybe a weeks pay, or two, in electronics.

One mistake could wipe you out.
Good post, but one small correction or addition from one who was there. In 196x a four channel digital radio (Micro Avionics, PCS, etc) would set the average guy back a months pay before taxes. The Bonner Digimite was about $600 which if you inflate to todays prices would be equivilent to about $3000 or more.
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Old 04-04-2005, 09:43 AM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.

There is a danger present when everyone flies at soccer fields, basketball courts, etc. If they are using any of the 50 channels and are very close to each other, one or both may crash, if they are on the same channel. At least with AMA clubs, there is a minimun spacing of 2 miles of the fields to reduce the possibility of interference.

With park flyers, even the AMA clubs are in danger of interference, if the park flyers are flying with the more powerful transmitters on one of the 50 channels close to the club field. How do clubs protect themselves from this?

BTW, when I lived in Illinois, I had 5 acres in the country and could walk out of my basement and fly whenever I wanted. I did this often, but it was not nearly as much fun as going to the club and flying with my friends.
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Old 04-04-2005, 10:00 AM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.

aeajr,

I have one question regarding these empty lots, School yards, deserted beaches and parks that you speak of as such wonderfull flying sites, Have you ever asked for premission to fly there?

We have 1 school 1 park and lots of empty lots and a deserted private airport (i.e. private property) As you may have guessed its a rural community. The School and prohibit these types of activities. Flying on private property is called tresspassing.

While it may be different in other locals my belief is that as more park flyers decend upon the places you mention more school districts and local municpalities will regulate or ban them. In the not so distant future this puts the park flyer in the same position as the wet flyer no place to fly. Think it won't happen think again it already did with the C/L flyers. When I was a kid you could fly a C/L model at the playground can't now.

If nothing else the club IS a place were flying is allowed. When the "Golden Era" of park flying has passed they to will have to secure flying sites its a commonality all forms of areomodeling share. The sooner all realize this the sooner that we can act as a group to insure that a place exists within our communities. Oh wait wasn't/isn't that the major stated goal of the AMA?
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Old 04-04-2005, 10:30 AM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.


ORIGINAL: Crashem

aeajr,

I have one question regarding these empty lots, School yards, deserted beaches and parks that you speak of as such wonderfull flying sites, Have you ever asked for premission to fly there?

We have 1 school 1 park and lots of empty lots and a deserted private airport (i.e. private property) As you may have guessed its a rural community. The School and prohibit these types of activities. Flying on private property is called tresspassing.

While it may be different in other locals my belief is that as more park flyers decend upon the places you mention more school districts and local municpalities will regulate or ban them. In the not so distant future this puts the park flyer in the same position as the wet flyer no place to fly. Think it won't happen think again it already did with the C/L flyers. When I was a kid you could fly a C/L model at the playground can't now.

If nothing else the club IS a place were flying is allowed. When the "Golden Era" of park flying has passed they to will have to secure flying sites its a commonality all forms of areomodeling share. The sooner all realize this the sooner that we can act as a group to insure that a place exists within our communities. Oh wait wasn't/isn't that the major stated goal of the AMA?
I agree 100%.

For example, in my community the schools forbid planes, but people still fly them on the weekends and, as stated above, because they are small and quiet, it is rare anyone says anything. Now, if 6 people showed up and they were all over the place, that would likely get some attention.

So, we just have to wait till communities pass laws to ban planes from anywhere but AMA fields and then for the police to enforce it. Sounds like a good piece of legislation for the AMA to propose.

Then membership will blossom.


rcjake-RCU

I agree with you completely. Now, if you would just stand at the hobby store and tell everyone about this.

Of course if they are buying 27 mhz planes, then the more common 72 mhz radios on the club fields are in no danger at all.

So maybe it should be OK to buy 27 mhz radios without membership, but 72 mhz radios require an AMA card before you can purchase radios or receivers. That might increase membership, or decrease the sale of 72 mhz equipment. Doubt the radio makers would like that.

iflyj3

Thanks for the correction. Man, you would have to be crazy to buy and build without some kind of support from a club. I bet AMA and club dues was pretty cheap then, by comparison to your investment in your first plane.


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Old 04-04-2005, 10:37 AM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.


ORIGINAL: aeajr
I agree 100%.
I'll be the first to admit it I must have missed the point of your thread "It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system."

If the clubs main reason for exisitenxce is to provide a place to fly (and they do) then what exactly do you think needs fixing??

Are you saying that you think the clubs need to take a more active role in recuiting AMA members? I thought that was covered by requiring all club members to be AMA members?

Aeajr, You have got me confused on this topic... Hopefully the Outlaw will stop on by and shed some light on this thread
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Old 04-04-2005, 11:01 AM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.

ORIGINAL: Crashem


ORIGINAL: aeajr
I agree 100%.
I'll be the first to admit it I must have missed the point of your thread "It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system."

If the clubs main reason for exisitenxce is to provide a place to fly (and they do) then what exactly do you think needs fixing??

Are you saying that you think the clubs need to take a more active role in recuiting AMA members? I thought that was covered by requiring all club members to be AMA members?

Aeajr, You have got me confused on this topic... Hopefully the Outlaw will stop on by and shed some light on this thread
I am saying the incentive to seek out a club is going away, so yes, the clubs need to more agressively recruit. They need to change their approach/policies/attitudes to the parkflyers.

Many have been VERY negative toward the small electrics. Some have rejected 27 mhz planes or radio system that don't have trainer ports. That covers 90% of the parkflyer RTF crowd on 27 or 72 mhz. I received a VERY cold shoulder 2 years ago. If I had not been determined to join a club, I would be flying in the lots and schoolyards today.

While it may be $58 to join the AMA, some clubs have fees that are over $100 per year.

These guys see no reason to pay it since they don't need a runway and may not need all that space. Many of the parkies are so easy to fly, they don't need lessons. So, is there any other reason why they should join the club? You answer this one.


I am in sales by trade. If you want someone to buy something, in this case a club membership, then you have to offer them something they value more than the $$ they are going to give up.


Here is an example of a recruiting approach under the current AMA and club charter:

Under the introductory pilot, IP, program ( I am one of 3 introductory pilots for my club) a non-member can fly on the field for 30 days without AMA membership as long as they are under the supervision of an IP. The person and the club are covered by insurance.

I have a standing agreement with one of the LHS. Give out my name and e-mail to all your customers who purchase new parkflyers. This includes kits and ARFs as well as the RTFs he carries from HobbyZone and ParkZone. Aerobirds, Aerobird Xtremes, Commanders, Scouts J3, Decathelon, Slo-V.

Send 'em to me for a free lesson. We are picking up some new members this way.

So, give out free flight lesson cards to the LHS, or free 30 day membership cards to all the hobby stores. Tell them to hand them out with the planes.

Free? Hey, for free, a lot of these guys will "check it out"!

Now, once you have them on the field, make them feel welcome. Help them out. Show them how wonderful it is to be in a club. You know, they just might decide to join.

And if they don't, at least you know about them. You can educate them about frequency control. You can send them the club newsletter by e-mail and, just maybe, when they are ready to take the next step, they will come back.

The IP program is already in place. But how many clubs agressively market it to bring in new members?????

You need a fool like me who just loves to help the new guys. Got a couple like me in your club? Make them an IPs. Maybe you make them dues free if they bring in 3 new members and get them flying. Then hand out cards at the LHS, RC shows, the High Schools, etc.

What do you think of this idea? Are you doing this now?
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Old 04-04-2005, 12:12 PM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.

As a group, the answer to your question is no. Only about 400 of the AMA's 2500 clubs (16%) have Intro Pilot programs. Of the clubs I have contact with, all have rejected the program because of the paperwork necessary.
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Old 04-04-2005, 12:29 PM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.

A guess we are looking at it from different aspects.

First it seems to me that you are assuming that all clubs need/want new members. I'm not sure thats the case.
The club I'm in started out in 1968 and has had as few as 10 members and as many as 50 they seem perfectly happy with that trend

Second

Many have been VERY negative toward the small electrics. Some have rejected 27 mhz planes or radio system that don't have trainer ports. That covers 90% of the parkflyer RTF crowd on 27 or 72 mhz. I received a VERY cold shoulder 2 years ago. If I had not been determined to join a club, I would be flying in the lots and schoolyards today.
While I haven't had your reception, Did it occur to you that, that may be the type of club they were and they aren't interested in having members with your particular interest can't really fault them since they are a private club. We don't allow sailplanes at our club and tell several individuals that every summer... I wonder if they took that as being rude and negative

Third
While it may be $58 to join the AMA, some clubs have fees that are over $100 per year.
Not sure of your point thats the cost. If it is too steep find/found another club

Coming from a sales background seems to have colored your opinions towards likening club recuitment to the sales cycle where you prospect pitch and close then start the cycle over again. Some clubs may not see any benefit.
Ours has the Field of Dreams "If you build it they will come" approach with a twist and "if they don't who cares we're still having fun".

These guys see no reason to pay it since they don't need a runway and may not need all that space. Many of the parkies are so easy to fly, they don't need lessons. So, is there any other reason why they should join the club? You answer this one.
Lets take this one a step at a time... (I actually thought I answered the first part in me previous response)

They need to pay if they have no other place to legally fly other then the club field!

Not needing lessons is debatable maybe they do maybe they don't. Problem is they won't know for sure untill they try there by risking the model

What do you think of this idea? Are you doing this now?
Been there done that got the tee-shirt. I think your idea like any other works for you and your club. That does not mean it can or should be applied to other clubs.

I have a standing agreement with one of the LHS. Give out my name and e-mail to all your customers who purchase new parkflyers. This includes kits and ARFs as well as the RTFs he carries from HobbyZone and ParkZone. Aerobirds, Aerobird Xtremes, Commanders, Scouts J3, Decathelon, Slo-V.
Any idea how often the LHS actually does this??? We had a member that worked part time at the LHS and he said that most of our handouts ended up as scratch paper. []

Clubs need to do nothing then the bare minimum necessary to keep their fields to satisfy the majority of the membership might be sad but in my experience its true.

I don't believe anything needs to be done until the parkflyers lose their current "fields" Then it will be up to them to either form their own clubs or join existing ones.
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Old 04-04-2005, 03:13 PM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.

Just to be Clear I am already of the opinion the every flying club already has the single most important benefit that anyone wanting to participate must have. A place where flying is Allowed!!!!!!!!!

That alone justifies the cost of membership. If you disagree you are free to find another location.

Therefore I tend to think that these how do wo change inorder to induce new members threads are more debating exercises (fun but pointless) Most clubs are vitural monopolies meaning that if you want to safely and legally fly in most locales you need to join. Keeping that in mind why waste valuable time and resources trying to convince others. Let the park police and local courts explain it to them via tickets and fines Soon enough even the slowest among us will realize that there are places where it is acceptable to persue the hobby and places where it is not.

As far as reducing the costs based on cost of equipment... why don't you try that next time your golfing or skiing

Could I please pay less then him because my equipment is cheaper
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Old 04-04-2005, 03:20 PM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.


ORIGINAL: aeajr


iflyj3

Thanks for the correction. Man, you would have to be crazy to buy and build without some kind of support from a club. I bet AMA and club dues was pretty cheap then, by comparison to your investment in your first plane.
No problem, funny you should mention the AMA dues. I just happened the other day to open and old kit of mine and found the 1965 AMA application form. Open member was $6.00 and a $.50 surcharge if the old AMA card was not returned for the number verification. If they had to look it up, the $.50 surcharge was in effect. If you didn't send the AMA card or $.50 you got a new number.

We leased a flying field and payed $25 per month, 12 months a year. Our club ranged from 18 to 25 members. So you can see that our dues were some where in the $15 to $20 range. Yes we mowed the grass too, mainly by me with my truck and rider, at no compensation.

Anyway, back on subject. There are a lot of good ideas being put forth here and there is value in each ones opinion.

The Park flyers will eventually either quit the hobby or seek out a club if they stay for any length of time.

It will be interesting to see the number of newbies at our club this year. The numbers were way down from the previous year.

I surmized that it was because of park flyers.

Even before park flyers, if our club retained for three years 1 of ten newbies we were lucky. I have seen newbies last as short as 30 days and up to three years before they got out of the hobby. That is why I have a hard time spending a lot of my hobby time for someone that is just passing through. Be there, got the T shirt!
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Old 04-04-2005, 06:28 PM
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Default RE: It is not the AMA that needs work, it is the club system.

Crashem

Thanks for you prospective. And yes, this is a toss around of ideas, since none of us is going to make any changes on our own.

The essence or your message, if i read it right, is that clubs in general, and yours specifically, are not really interested in attracting new members. If they come, they come, but nobody really cares. OK, that's cool, especially if you don't have any big expenses that you would want to spread out over a larger group.

Perhaps this is part of the reason that AMA membership is starting to decline. If your club is typical, then what we have is a downward trend that will probably continue.

As I have stated, the clubs ARE the AMA to the flying public. Muncie is a picture in a magazine. The work being done on frequencies and the like is back room stuff. The magazine is VERY broad and general, so it really doesn't serve any given segment well. It is a sort of a sampler. And insurance is important, but not real exciting.

So, if the biggest value that the AMA brings to the public is the clubs, and the clubs don't really have a lot of interest in seeking out new members to draw them in, then, well, there is nothing to support membership.

More and more people will go it alone, or form social flying groups or whatever. Some might drift into a club eventually, but probably not. And that's OK.

Crashem, I think you are right. If I look at my own club, and others that I have spoken to, I don't see a lot of membership development going on. Maybe some talk about it, but not a lot of active recruitment. If they come, fine. If not. OK.

I really appreciate your taking the time to join in this discussion. I was interested what the response would be to my post. I am a bit surprised, but maybe I should not have been.
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