Modeling thought for the month:
"No date on the calendar is as important as tomorow."
-- Roy W. Howard
I always want to go flying. The question is ... will I be out there at the field all by myself, counting on Mr. Stooge to let go of the planes, or will I have a bunch of flying buddies to share the fun.
Time was, it was often just me. Yes, the club theoretically flew every Sunday morning. But in reality, it was often just one or two of us, because we were't sure whether anyone else was going and ... well, there's a drop of rain, or it might be too windy, or the ballgame was on TV ...
All that has changed. For the past two years or so, the Eugene Prop Spinners have shown up in force almost every weekend. Poor old Mr. Stooge hasn't had to launch a plane for a long time. The club has a dozen members on the roster, give or take. There are never fewer than three or four at the field for a given weekend's flying session. The club seems busier and more alive than it has for decades.
What the heck happened to bring everyone out so regularly?
Well, there are lots of reasons -- a great president (Mike Denlis), members who really like to fly, a great flying site, the return of the Regionals -- but a lot of those things have existed for a long time. There's one new factor that seems to have been the real catalyst. I can say it in one hyphenated word:
So simple, so quick, so effective.
Every Wednesday, one or the other of the Prop Spinners sends out an e-mail to a mailing list that includes all the active members and a few "friends of the club" who are either in our region and might drop by, or who have expressed interest in CL flying. The e-mail is usually just two or three sentences: How last week's flying session went, and what day and time we plan to fly this coming weekend.
Now, suddenly, every active or potential CL flier within easy driving distance knows that theres a specific day, time and place where flying will be going on. They show up to join the fun.
Simple as that.
Usually, those of us whose schedules are, let us say, "complicated" on weekends will talk at the flying session or on Monday or Tuesday to decide what day is best for flying on the coming weekend, and that's what we put in the e-mail. Of course, any other member who would like to go at a different time is free to send out an e-mail indicating that -- so some weekends many of us are out there both days. We can also set up weekday sessions this way, though that's less common in our club.
The point is, if your club is having trouble getting "critical mass" for regular flying sessions, the solution may be as close as your computer keyboard. Make an e-mail list. Send out a note saying what time you plan to be out at the field this weekend. Then be there.
It may take a while to build up the habit, but I guarantee ... if there are fliers in your area who have been having trouble getting motivated to come out, a regular e-mail circular about upcoming flying sessions (and successful ones just past) will bring a new life to your flying site.
Our club also has been successful in another little change in our longstanding habits that also seems to have increased activity at the flying field. Year-round, we now hold all our club meetings at the field during a regular weekly flying session. In the winter, one of our club members sometimes brings his motor home, where we can get out of the weather for the meeting. If not, and if the weather is bad, we just adjourn to the restaurant at the airport terminal across the road. Believe it or not, in the past winter, we only had to go to the restaurant for the meeting once or twice. The rest of the time, the meeting was held right on the field. One side benefit: If we're meeting on the field, everyone is eager to get flying ... and the business meetings go quickly!
These are two things you can try to pump up the real business of control-line model aviation: the flying.
Top photo: Tom Kopriva flies his Cardinal. Bottom photo: Prop Spinners John Thompson and Gene Pape at work during a combat plane test session. Often, grass and asphalt circles are in use simultaneously during Prop Spinners' weekend flying sessions. Jim Corbett photos.
E-mail John Thompson
This page was updated July 24, 2008