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Clubs Flying on Army or other Military Property (How Did You Do It)

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Clubs Flying on Army or other Military Property (How Did You Do It)

Old 02-15-2023, 08:09 AM
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Rocketman612
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Default Clubs Flying on Army or other Military Property (How Did You Do It)

Hello,

The Wiregrass Radio Control Club (AMA 103) had been flying from Army Stagefields for over 40 years. In 2019 we lost permission to use these fields due to rules regarding (COTS) Commercial Off The Shelf Systems and after a year found an alternative flying site. Due to the lease and maintenance we have high dues and have lost membership as a result. Travel to the new field has also been a barrier.
We are starting the process of trying to return to these fields. I know there are clubs out there flying on military property. How have you navigated the process and what regulations assisted you in the process. I've been told the regulations have changed and we are trying to source the updated ones.

Any insights or suggestions are welcome.

Pete


Old 02-15-2023, 08:14 AM
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BarracudaHockey
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Have you reached out to AMA HQ?
Old 02-15-2023, 08:47 AM
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Rocketman612
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Yes response pending.

Sorry I forgot your name but you use to fly with us many moons ago.

Pete
Old 02-17-2023, 04:10 AM
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The Coffee Airfoilers fly just outside of Arnold Air Force Base. I'm not sure if the base owns the land they're on or not. You might contact them and ask.

coffeeairfoilers.com

Carl
Old 02-17-2023, 06:14 AM
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As probably the only one in these forums who's actually been in charge of a military installation, I've got some insight into the problem from both sides.

There are three major challenges facing a base commander before they can approve use of DoD property. And when I say DoD property, I'm NOT talking about property on a military affiliated museum or something similar located near the base but not on it. I'm talking about property owned fee-simple by DoD. Many of the clubs that think they're flying on DoD property are likely not, or if they are, they are just one letter to an IG from being thrown off (see below).

Taking the easiest first, it's actually the flying ops part of it. For a base like mine, the location had to be compatible with 250,000 military TACAIR flights annually, crop dusting operations on ag outlawed fields, other low altitude traffic traversing the airspace (fire, police, etc. helis), security concerns (weapons magazines, other sensitive facilities), and access. With very few exceptions, EVERYONE entering a DoD facility has to be either DoD affiliated (meaning they have a USG ID of some sort), or be sponsored by someone who has one. Most bases did not give what I'll call "categorical" sponsorships. I was expected (by my leadership) to tie every individual non-dod person to a specific DoD sponsor. The reason is simple: the DoD member is accountable for who they choose to sponsor and, to some extent, what they do while on my facility. In other words, in the event of misconduct, I'm going after BOTH of them. I'm also obligated to ensure that anyone for whom I grant access is of no threat to my base population (family in homes etc.). No felonies, no child related crimes, no dishonorable discharges, etc. So IF you make it past those wickets, the AIROPS piece isn't too difficult, however I do have some work to do with my AIROPS officer to figure out best way to deconflict. That usually involves a combination of geographical, altitude, and operating day and time limits.

The second challenge is policy, and that can rear its head at several levels. The overall DoD policy comes down to this: "Whatever you do for one entity, you have to do for all similar entities." So if I approve a private dues collecting organization to use my property, then a strict interpretation (usually the HQ's or even DoD level) would require me to grant permission to all other private dues collecting organizations that request it. Now I can try to limit that a bit by playing with definitions, but literally all it takes is a letter to the Inspector General that I'm playing word games to improperly excludes some groups. So when one considers approval, as the decision maker you have to consider the other groups that could apply that you really DO NOT want to approve. Here's an example I faced. A very good, forthright organization came to me with the best of intentions requesting to build a monument on base property. When I later sat down with my JAG, she said "If you say yes to them, you. have to say yes to anyone else. So are you willing to have a memorial to controversial figures? Or what about memorial for enemies of the US? Or KKK? etc. etc." Point being, you can't discriminate and get away with it. We said no. It's also entirely possible the higher HQ just says "no." Why? it's usually tied to the above, but at a regional level. If one base is doing something, it makes it hard for other bases to say no. Oh, and once HQ or IG finds out you're trying to skirt the rules, the club gets thrown off on short notice. I'm aware of at least one club that lost their access this way.

That said, the one way you can discriminate is to limit membership to only those with DoD affiliation. That means Active Duty, Retired, Dependents, Government Employees, Government Contractors WITH a DoD ID Card OR honorably discharged with DD214. I could say no all day long to entities that were not exclusively DoD. However, that's where AMA gets a little testy ... as they want clubs open to all members. Hence the inherent conflict between AMA's objectives and requirements of DoD.

Third is financial risk. While some in these pages tout the AMA insurance, and yes that has value, the issue facing DoD is different. When something happens, the one that gets sued is those with the deepest pockets. And DoD has deep pockets. So while AMA insurance is there, once someone gets hurt on DoD property the lawyers go after DoD.

My recommendation is to either create a club that's exclusively DoD affiliated (as described above) and then ask the base, or look for land elsewhere.
Old 02-17-2023, 07:31 AM
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franklin m,
Thanks for your insights. Some of what you describe applies to our situation , some not. Once we can review the most current regulations regarding this matter we may or may not have a path forward. My posting here is to learn from other clubs and build off their success. On the upside we do have a field and although expensive it's available 365 days a year.

Pete
Old 02-17-2023, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Rocketman612
franklin m,
Thanks for your insights. Some of what you describe applies to our situation , some not. Once we can review the most current regulations regarding this matter we may or may not have a path forward. My posting here is to learn from other clubs and build off their success. On the upside we do have a field and although expensive it's available 365 days a year.
Pete, good luck to you. The safest way to approach it is to be totally above board and encourage the base to do the same with their higher HQ, Staff Judge Advocate, etc. Yes, it takes longer and will likely result in a "no", but in the end that's better. For if you get a "yes," you've got something to stand on. If you/they try to do it on the lowdown, you have greatly increased risk of having the rug pulled out from you on short notice. As I said, all it takes is one well placed letter to an IG.

One thing I forgot to mention is that you can't use Boy/Girl Scouts as example. Both have specific carve outs in legislation.
Old 04-01-2023, 10:28 AM
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Hobby Inn
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Pete,

Have you talked with anyone from...Eglin Aero Modellers

BTW...there is an electric jet meet there on the 29th.
Old 04-01-2023, 12:36 PM
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Hello Rocketman..!
One of my fondest memories come from being stationed at Redstone Arsenal... Alabama [twice] and visiting the NASA Space Museum.
I think I would try to reach out to the Commander just to get a feel for HESHEIT'S feelings. This will let you know if you are dealing with someone who is sympatico or else just another "powerless" 21st Century ROBOT just waiting obediently and patiently for HESHEIT's pension.
Hopefully the info for how to reach HESHEIT isn't being kept a secret from the public nowadays.
You just might be lucky enough to find a MAN in charge who would only need to see AMA membership and have you guys sign a Hold Harmless Agreement?

While stationed at Ft Hood [where there are miles of mowed grass everywhere]..my son Charlie flew Control Line Combat planes without anyone's permission.
Everyone loved watching those planes fly and nobody was stupid enough or insane enough to think for a hot second that what he was doing was a threat to our national security.

Last edited by combatpigg; 04-01-2023 at 03:36 PM.
Old 04-04-2023, 07:02 AM
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Update,

Thanks for all the comments. We have put together a package of material that documents WGRC's relationship with the Fort for decades as well as regulations, documents that outlined conduits of communication and oversight. We are moving up the ladder and are providing additional material when requested. Nothing gets done quickly but we are "in process"

Pete
Old 04-04-2023, 07:38 AM
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Rocketman612
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Originally Posted by Hobby Inn
Pete,

Have you talked with anyone from...Eglin Aero Modellers

BTW...there is an electric jet meet there on the 29th.

I have emailed the club President. The club did have a link on their website to documentation outlining the use of Eglin AFB and the club. Thanks
Pete

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