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  1. #1

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    Who Flies Next?

    One year ago our club was a very small group of regular fliers. We had a fixed set of formal rules in place but we had the unwritten codes of conduct that we all lived by, you know, something called field etiquette. Then our sponsor gratiously gave us a great big beautiful brand new asphalt runway and all heck has broken loose.

    We now have planes from the very tiny to the very huge, from gas to glow to electric, we have pilots from champions to newbies and more walking in every weekend. Basically, it's gone far beyond what I consider out of control.

    We have members who believe that growth is a good thing and that we should double or triple our membership every year but I keep asking, when 100 people show up to fly on a Saturday morning, is that too many? 500? 1000? 10,000? There must be a limit to what is possible.

    Currently we have about 12 guys on a slow day and 22 on a busy day. In my experience that's a lot of people at a field. And I'm the first one to say, they've all paid their dues, they've all demonstrated proficiency, they all deserve to fly. But the question comes up, who flies next?

    We've all been in clubs where there are people who never sit down, they fuel and fly, fuel and fly, fuel and fly, fuel and fly, then they leave. Doesn't matter what else is in the air or who's been waiting for how long, they're going to fly until get tired or run out of fuel. We've also got the guys who enjoy flying as a swarm of airplanes. More power to you, have a good time. But what about the newbie who is afraid of flying with several planes in the air? The guy with the 5 year long super scale project who is concerned about a midair? Or the pattern flier who wants a few minutes to run through the perfect sequence without having to dodge three or four tiny electrics and a giant scale, super fast aerobat all at the same time?

    How does your club deal with such disparate flying needs.

    I am looking for a fair method of signing up for a flight slot and identifying if you would like private airspace or are willing to gain priority by flying with others. Something that will guarantee that the guy looking for zen solo flying won't sit all day and go home with zero to one flights while the daredevils and the buy and fly guys will turn in dozens of flights because they've got nothing to lose except a few dollars. Something that will allow the newbies a chance to shoot approaches without a half dozen airplanes buzzing overhead while he is trying to learn how to make a landing. Some fair, equitable sign up method of getting in line for a flight and assigning priorities based on desires and needs.

    I fly pattern style and I prefer to fly with as few planes in the air as possible (1, mine). But we have others who want the same thing for other reasons. Nervous newbies. Nervous long time fliers. Guys with many thousands of hours of construction and even more dollars in a giant super scale project. Speed planes. Maiden flights. There are lots of reasons to want to limit air traffic during your flight but I haven't seen any flight line control system that takes these things into account.

    All of us who want solo air time know that we will get less air time than the guys who are up there 3, 4, 5 or more at a time and we can live with that. As long as there is a system that insists that at some point we get a break, get some air and others sit back and let us fly without an interruption. There have been days at our field where I would have gone home happy after 7 hours if I could have just made a 3rd flight, but it wasn't to be.

    So let's hear about your flight sign up systems. Something with a physical control. A sign up system. Prioritizations, constraints on number of planes allowed, flight time limits and things of that sort.

    We're talking a peg board or a white board with sign up and priorities based on how open you are to other planes flying with you, a line up for take off area, but something that will ensure that even the guy who demands solo air time for his $20,000 scale project or ultra fast speed plane can get still get in a couple of flights and feel that he's been treated fairly because he knew the rules, abided by them and was considered a valuable part of the flying community.

    Thoughts? Discussions? Talk among yourselves and report back.

    Dave

  2. #2
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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    We are small, currently less than 30 members, and our bylaws cap membership at 50.
    We allow 4 in the air at once, unless it is an organized race or combat event.

    Wait time is not an issue for us so I have no suggestion other than a signup sheet of some sort and someone willing to deal with it.
    - Carrell

  3. #3
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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    Alot boils down to respecting each other at the field. I belong to two area clubs and its not unusual to have between 20-30 pilots at the field allways. Both clubs have at least 5 flight stations to use. We have basically 4 groups of fliers at both clubs, Heli pilots, foamie & electric pilots, 3D guys , general sport pilots. All respect each other and allow each group to have their time on the field. This happens without any verbal talk. People just walk up to the flight line with their particular type model & lets say its a 3D 150cc monster, wait until the last what ever lands. Then that group of guys fly. If a solo flight is requested,the pilot puts up an orange highway cone & he is allowed one solo flight all alone in the air. If some one just cant wait to fly, i have seen where we ask the guys flying if they mind flying with mixed types. You generally know who doest mind flying with helis , foamies & 3D planes in the air at the same time. Yeah, theres allways one or two people that have an issue with what ever you do, but thats life anyway. You get to know who they are and we work around them. Most pilots around here have one of every type model at the field anyway so they allways have a group to fly with at all times....Gene

  4. #4
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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    You don't mention what your operational hours are at your site... or if theres limitations on access... It sounds like the runway has been a "shot in the arm" for your membership.. and thats probably a good thing for a club as a whole.. but it obviously raises other issues.. one of them being just what you're seeing.

    Reason I ask about operation times and access is, I'm a member of a long-standing club of 180 members myself. Now to some that might sound like alot, and to a few others that might be a mid-size club.. but somehow we do work it out.. and those of us (like me) that like a bit of solitude go out at the "off-peak" times... when there's only a few out flying.. and generally those few out flying at those times, are out flying because... yes... they like solitude as well.. but honestly its not solitude they like.. its more like (again like me) they don't want the "big club" feel...

    So those off-times actually can become small clubs within a club.. and I have some very long-term friendships within my club that have come out of such meetings... Theres 5 or 6 of us that usually are out on a Friday afternoon, or late Sunday afternoon.. after everybody is gone... and guess what..? We all take turns.. its very enjoyable... and others come out during those times.. but for the most part its a very laid back atmosphere..

    There are rules in place that allow 4 planes up, no taxiing in the pits, no engine run-ups in the pits(we have stands outside of the pits)..stuff like that.. and if you don't have those guidelines in place.. you might want to address the club body or board and possibly draft something up and see if it can be passed, at least in some form or fashion.. but it is a club.. and by and large any rules that are to be put in place should be done by the voting body.. Possibly written by a small commitee.. but to be valid I do believe it should be majority vote.. It sounds like your club is very new though... and some of these suggestions take time... and some might not even be valid for your needs.... but it does sound pretty crazy there.. and yes.. You should get a whole lot more flights in after being there 7 hours..
    I say try to go during the off-peak times... don't tell anyone though...

  5. #5

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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    The best thing is to do nothing.

    Presumably, if you are flying big, expensive models, then you are reasonably adult ... so, if you don't like crowds, go to the field when it's less busy. If the airspace is too "busy" for your tastes ... land your plane.

    Do nothing; and the people will self-organise. Once you start trying to regulate the behaviour of others, you create the conditions for yet more squabbling. But, it is a guaranteed method of reducing the size of your membership.






    When I belonged to a large club, smaller clubs formed within it, spontaneously. So, we had the Sunday Flyers ... and the Tuesday Flyers ... and the "Anytime the Wx is good Flyers ... and the Cliquey Flyers and the Wednesday-evening Crowd. My advice to anyone who demands the whole airspace is, "Go and buy a private field."

  6. #6

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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    our club has around 150. there are groups of guys that hang out together talk to much and not fly enough, sometimes i am nervous and don't fly much or just come to the field when its not crowded, or watch and learn, your club has some possibility for mid airs crashs, ive seen them but only in the races, its good to have a strong club to.

  7. #7
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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    No matter what  printed or unspoken rules are in place there will always be some who won't abide . The miserable  fart who feels it's really his club and can do what ever he wants , the new guy who feels he has to get as many flights in as he can in one hour, etc...etc...   to the heli guy who has to fly in the middle of the runway and can't fly the pattern.  The hooray for me to h@ll with you attitudes.
    Brian Ray

  8. #8

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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    That would depend on the size of your field. My small field only allows 3 up at one time, but that only happens on busy Sunday's.

    you will want to 2 Bylaws created to make things fair for everyone first limit the total number of planes accordingly with the size of your field. Next at very busy times limit the time at pilot can be in the air per one flight.   

    Create 3d hovering places and heli hovering locations. Be enforceable by the safety officer. Large clubs are great but you have a higher chance to get members that don't care about anyone else. They are any inherent safety risk.

  9. #9
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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    Dave,

    Your dilemma is very common, and your club is exactly like mine, only that we are in a public park, where anyone with an AMA card can fly, even if he doesn't belong to our club.

    What we have done is limiting the number of flying airplanes to 6, set the direction of the flying pattern each day (according to the direction of the wind) and enforce it, and create an non paved area for helicopters, which cannot fly withing the airplanes' flying zone.

    After that, everything becomes self-adjusted by most of the fliers.
    Many are retired and choose flying during weekdays or very early in the morning.
    Many don't even fly, just chat and argue in the pits.
    In my case, I avoid weekends and the hours that most aggressive and inconsiderate pilots like.

    Contrary to any logic, midair crashes are extremely rare.
    We have frequent combat competitions in our club, which prove how difficult is to nail a string ...............or another airplane.

    The safety officer is very active and he doesn't hesitate straighten transgressors up, specially during weekends.
    I have seen him tactfully talking about basic ethics to new or rude pilots that are not willing to yield some station or flying times to others that have been waiting.
    In each meeting, we re-state that any member has the authority to function as a safety officer.
    The non-members have been the hard cases with a "independent" attitude, and they have been complying with some time.

    In the extreme case of pilots with really poor ethics, a log list based on sign in time and number of flights may be useful for the person in charge of enforcing some few rules (too many rules always generate complainers and "rebels").

    Your club meeting should address these issues and agree on the best approach to most of the members, deciding on and enforcing a few rules.

    Best luck in your organizing attempt !
    Lnewqban - "God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars. He has achieved success who has worked well, laughed often, and loved much." - Elbert Hubbard

  10. #10
    iron eagel's Avatar
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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    Our club set up a waiting pole for when we have a large crowd at the field you get to fly when you pin reaches the bottom of the stack we allow only four planes in flight at a time.

    Here is the rule we use:

    #4- Frequency pin must be on frequency board while using 72Mhz transmitters, with 8 or less transmitters operational at the field 2.4 Ghz is exempt from needing a pin on the frequency board.
    A. When the 9th transmitter show up his pin must go on the waiting pole, and all 2.4 Ghz pins must go up on the frequency board if not already there like 72 Mhz as well.
    B. As soon as one of the 8 active transmitters finishes that pilot should remove the pin from the frequency board allowing the next pilot on the waiting pole to go active, the pilot must then place it on the waiting pole if they wish to fly again.

  11. #11

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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    More rules will make enemies. Wanting to fly alone while others wait doesn't work for me, although I do understand. I find off hours work for me. Lots of midweek evenings are available but we are near the land of the midnight sun.l
    \"Of course, that\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'s just my opinion. I could be wrong.\" the other Dennis Miller

  12. #12
    iron eagel's Avatar
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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    I am not one for more rules either. Last year at times it was becoming an issue (people getting a chance to fly) enough so a member proposed the rule. Our club voted for that rule ( the one listed above) last year so everyone would get a turn to fly.
    We have set up a separate area adjacent to the runway for helicopters operators, so their hovering isn't a problem with the fixed wing traffic.
    I often go during the week or windy days when it generally less congested so it never was a problem for me.

  13. #13

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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    I have left two clubs because of too many trying to fly at the same time, especially when you have someone trying to 3D, someone trying to do pattern and someone who just wants to try to relax and fly circuits (me) in the air at the same time. I was lucky enough to find a club who flies at a land fill and on any given Saturday or Sunday, there are never more than 4 or 5 at the field. We all take turns flying 1 at a time. There are no midairs and the guy wanting to do 3D can do whatever he wants, the guy doing pattern can fly his whole routine and then I can fly 10 to 15 minutes of circuits and repeat. To me this hobby should be relaxing and nothing against those who have more skills and want to do other things than fly circuits, but it totally un-nerves me to have someone in the air when I am flying who doesn't want to fly the pattern. I am sure they feel the same about me wanting to fly circuits when they want to do other things.

    My advice - if you don't like where you are, and the majority does, then either fly at another time or find another place to fly.

  14. #14

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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    Yes, our club does have restricted access hours. So things really do get crowded on the weekends. I agree that it's a courtesy thing, my article in our last newsletter discussed that very topic. By the way, I am the safety officer for the club and a very active one. But restricting people from flying long flights as frequently as they want to doesn't enter my responsibility until we have something in the safety rules against it. We do have a maximum of 5 flyers at one time but I'm not the only one who finds that to be too many airplanes for comfortable flying.

    I have heard of clubs where you must line up planes when ready to fly, next in line flies. These are the kind of suggestions I am looking for. Procedures that have been worked out and are in use. Iron Eagle posted something along these lines. I am thinking of something similar, extended for the guys who want fewer planes in the air. Something that would give the fly with a group guys priority but ensure that if you're willing to wait to fly alone, then you can get a few flights in during the course of a day too.

    This is not a take your ball and go home if you don't like it kind of thing. As safety officer I have a responsibility to keep the field safe for flyers of all skill levels and flying styles. I take that responsibility seriously and I'm trying to find a good method of ensuring that all flyers get their fair share of air time.

    Dave

  15. #15
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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    Our only restrictions are if you fly before 8AM electrics only (due to noise issues and the neighboring houses), after that anything goes (within AMA guidelines) with the exception of turbines (due to fire issues).
    After dusk we go back to electrics with lights until 10 PM. We had the priority pole in effect since last April and it has worked out pretty well. The only reason we had put the rule in effect is often even evenings there may be more than 20 pilots at the field and sometimes we had people that would not give others a chance to fly. So far it has worked out pretty well and there has been no complaints from anyone about it. We have all types of flying interest in our club anything from 3D, pattern, scale and helicopters the main concern for the club is to keep it fun for everyone. We have a CL area as well and some guys even do that as well as R/C during the course of the day.

  16. #16

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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    Priority pole? Tell us more.

    Dave

  17. #17
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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    On our frequency board in the center of it we have a small pole (waiting or priority) that we put our frequency pins on the top of the stack if they wish to fly. As one person lands that person remove their pin from the frequency board, and the person on the bottom of the priority pole is the next to fly, if the person who just landed wishes to fly again he puts his pin on the top of the stack on the "priority pole" and when he get to the bottom he will be the next to fly. The rule I posted above is what governs that as well as freq pin usage. We use it for the 2.5 operators as well (which are exempt from having to use pins except for this purpose) so there is no question about how get to fly next, it has worked out well thus far with no complaints. We used to have a couple of member who wouldn't remove their pin after a flight and just fuel up and go back, up leaving some members sitting waiting to fly and they wouldn't say anything, this eliminated that problem.

    Regards,
    Paul

  18. #18
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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    We have a max of 5 in the air, 55 in the club and 15 minute flights. It has always worked at the couple of places I fly.  I understand beginners not wanting a crowd.  I am not really a beginner, but don't like to fly when a $5,000 to $10,000 airplane is in the air with me, and 5 people going, limits you to left hand turns and ovals.  No hovering, heli's, gliders or control line.  I find most flyers use a comfortable height that is kind of their space.
    Glow Head Hood # 7

  19. #19
    iron eagel's Avatar
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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    We have a max of 4 airborne at as time and around 130 members total.
    It helps if there is traffic if you have someone as a working as a spotter to keep an eye out for any traffic that may be in your area or headed your way.

  20. #20

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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    Won't work for you I guess, but I find we have had and still have a few who fly so wild that as soon as they take off everything else is on the ground, so they get to fly alone.
    \"Of course, that\'\'\'\'\'\'\'\'s just my opinion. I could be wrong.\" the other Dennis Miller

  21. #21
    iron eagel's Avatar
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    RE: Who Flies Next?


    ORIGINAL: 4*60

    Won't work for you I guess, but I find we have had and still have a few who fly so wild that as soon as they take off everything else is on the ground, so they get to fly alone.
    That seems to be a constant at many clubs. lol
    We just sit back and enjoy the show, which often ends in their taking a walk to retrieve the pieces.


    I was just telling the OP what my club did in regards to everyone getting some flight time. We would have guys that we keep their pin up, refuel and go right back up, while others were still waiting to get to fly for the first time. And hence our clubs "solution" for this problem...

  22. #22

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    RE: Who Flies Next?

    My original club was pretty small. Everyone took turns and we all got to have 4 or 5 flights. Eventually, we had some guys decide to fly together ( 4 or 5 at the same time). They all got to fly when it was one of their turns. It worked great, but we only had 20 guys at the most show up one a big day.

    I have seen bigger clubs use the race track pattern combined with 3D / Hovering spot work ( totally seperate from the normal flight line). If it is in the flying pattern, it must use race track rules whatever type it is. It solves alot of the issues, but still benefits from a spotter while flying.


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