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Old Dec 31, 2013, 08:28 AM
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Keeping clubs alive and attracting younger members

This topic cropped up in the Extreme Flight owners thread and I thought it would be a good topic to discuss.
Here is a link to the EF thread so you an see the other posts.
Posts 24211-212
http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showpost.php?p=27044586
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Old Dec 31, 2013, 08:52 AM
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I'm a member at two different clubs. One has been around for 50ish years and is mostly circle flyers. They are also 70% retired guys....and have been retired for awhile. They don't really embrace 3D flyers and definitely don't like helicopters. If you aren't flying in a circle you are just "stick banging". There are a few guys sorta into IMAC. They realize they have a membership problem, even though they have 130 or so member, but seem unwilling to change. This club will die off if they don't embrace change soon.
My other club is much smaller but is a bit younger. There is a wide variety of flying styles but they are also an aging club. I became a club officer about two years ago and we have grown about 50% in that time. We pretty much replaced all the officers when I became one. I can't really say we have done anything to attract new members other than respond to emails. We have hosted two Fun Fly events and they have helped.
I'm almost 43 and I'm one of the "whipper snappers" in both clubs. We just don't see younger people coming out. The older we get the less likely younger guys will want to hang out with us. I'm not really sure how to attract the younger generation to the hobby.
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Old Dec 31, 2013, 09:18 AM
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i'm 39 and just recently "re-joined" my club. I skipped out for a year after being yelled at a couple times for 3D flying when i wasn't doing anything dangerous. Since i was still using their facilities I just contributed to the runway fund on those years but didn't join the club. They've since all lightened up and seemed to have accepted 3D flying now, so I just officially rejoined for 2014. But if I get yelled at again, they won't see a dime from me for a couple years again.
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Old Dec 31, 2013, 12:47 PM
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When I joined my club 6 years ago, we had 115 members. We are now struggling to get to 80. Some have changed clubs, some passed away, some moved. Average age is around 60-65. We have tried a couple things to bring in more interest from the public, but they've all pretty much failed. I've been the president for the past 2 years, and have tried changing things up a little to 'get out of the rut', but haven't had much luck. I think the changes I've made have improved morale, but not increased membership. I've started giving out little prizes, one each meeting, done by raffle tickets to thank members for coming to meetings. I've also handed out raffle tickets to our yearly plane raffle for helping during an event. We hosted our first IMAC event this summer, but no members competed. Our Fun Fly competitions usually have very poor turn-outs, despite having 4+ clubs in easy driving distance.
One thing that has helped bring more spectators to our events is posting them on the various online community calendars for the area. We still get very few general public, but it has helped especially for TAG Day.
Other things we have tried/are trying is working with the hobby shops to try and have the employees promote us when they see someone buying 'their first plane'. We tried making up a postcard survey that they would give to the customer and mail to us...didn't work. I now have made up shipping label size stickers they are putting on the beginner planes, encouraging them to ask about the local clubs before attempting to fly & crash. Some of the clubs are offering memberships incentives if the customer does this...but that hasn't netted anyone new members either.
The increase of $100-200 RTF micro & park flyers is basically telling new flyers that they don't need a club, they can just go fly (and crash) in their yard or park. Smaller barriers of entry to get into RC, but greatly reduces the chances of them seeking out a local club for some wide open flying space.
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Old Dec 31, 2013, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by DenverJayhawk View Post
i'm 39 and just recently "re-joined" my club. I skipped out for a year after being yelled at a couple times for 3D flying when i wasn't doing anything dangerous. Since i was still using their facilities I just contributed to the runway fund on those years but didn't join the club. They've since all lightened up and seemed to have accepted 3D flying now, so I just officially rejoined for 2014. But if I get yelled at again, they won't see a dime from me for a couple years again.
This is exactly what we are trying to avoid. Education, Communication and some compromise and flexibility is what's required. This hobby is a vast collection of many interests. Inflexibility and infighting will ruin it. There's enough airspace to go around and share. Because you can't do something or don't understand it is no reason to shin it or bad mouth it. Those in the receiving end of the RC prejudice need to take the high road and try to educate the curmudgeons.
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Old Dec 31, 2013, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by DonEmmel View Post
I'm a member at two different clubs. One has been around for 50ish years and is mostly circle flyers. They are also 70% retired guys....and have been retired for awhile. They don't really embrace 3D flyers and definitely don't like helicopters. If you aren't flying in a circle you are just "stick banging". There are a few guys sorta into IMAC. They realize they have a membership problem, even though they have 130 or so member, but seem unwilling to change. This club will die off if they don't embrace change soon.
My other club is much smaller but is a bit younger. There is a wide variety of flying styles but they are also an aging club. I became a club officer about two years ago and we have grown about 50% in that time. We pretty much replaced all the officers when I became one. I can't really say we have done anything to attract new members other than respond to emails. We have hosted two Fun Fly events and they have helped.
I'm almost 43 and I'm one of the "whipper snappers" in both clubs. We just don't see younger people coming out. The older we get the less likely younger guys will want to hang out with us. I'm not really sure how to attract the younger generation to the hobby.
Any schools in the area? Boy Scouts, community events that would enjoy a little airshow and demo? Just a few ideas.
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Old Dec 31, 2013, 03:29 PM
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The one club has several flying events open to the public, IMAC judge training, Boy Scout day, Civil Air Patrol day, and classroom visits. They have done this every year for several years now. It hasn't seemed to help improve the young membership.
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Old Dec 31, 2013, 04:02 PM
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Just pain being friendly and inviting to new comers would go a long way.

It's almost like to old guys sometimes don't want new people in the club because of fear of possible air time if there were more people.

My club has 50ish members, most over 65 and retired as well. They owe a large sum of money due to significant upgrades over the last few years and very few new members joining under 65 yo.

3D isn't really banned, but with all the restrictions put on the 3D flying I prefer to either park fly my electrics or only fly gas if the club is unoccupied- which is most days by about 1pm.
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Old Dec 31, 2013, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by DonEmmel View Post
The one club has several flying events open to the public, IMAC judge training, Boy Scout day, Civil Air Patrol day, and classroom visits. They have done this every year for several years now. It hasn't seemed to help improve the young membership.
Those are all great. It takes time. Keep up the good work and hopefully the tide will turn.
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Old Dec 31, 2013, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by madfor3D View Post
Just pain being friendly and inviting to new comers would go a long way.

It's almost like to old guys sometimes don't want new people in the club because of fear of possible air time if there were more people.

My club has 50ish members, most over 65 and retired as well. They owe a large sum of money due to significant upgrades over the last few years and very few new members joining under 65 yo.

3D isn't really banned, but with all the restrictions put on the 3D flying I prefer to either park fly my electrics or only fly gas if the club is unoccupied- which is most days by about 1pm.
Nail on the head! This attitude is a club killer. Try to work against it and educate them away from the destructive attitudes. Some members want it "to themselves" but are only there on an odd weekend day and feel threatened with new faces- very introverted and selfish thinking. They don't realize that no more members eventually means no more bucks. "No bucks, no buck Rogers" club folds!
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Old Dec 31, 2013, 05:36 PM
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Sorry for the typos in the previous post. Damn iPad auto correct.

Anyway, like I posted, a lot of the older guys tend to come across very stand-offish to new members. Perhaps its some sort of perceived privilege to be able to scratch build an old timer model where as us younger guys prefer ARF models that build quick and fly great so we can get more stick time and develop our skills further in the air.

I have tried to get things moving forward, and my club does hold events for those in the scale and pattern flying community, but most young people I come across in the park have never heard of the local club and probably not likely to join either considering the hassles some put new comers through.

I want to see the club prosper. Its probably the only club around my parts with a purpose built concrete runway, great facilities and so forth. With older members likely to dwindle in the coming years, they are either going to fold or keep raising membership fees to cover the repayments on loans etc.

Lets hope things change.
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Old Dec 31, 2013, 10:16 PM
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Sorry for the typos in the previous post. Damn iPad auto correct.

Anyway, like I posted, a lot of the older guys tend to come across very stand-offish to new members. Perhaps its some sort of perceived privilege to be able to scratch build an old timer model where as us younger guys prefer ARF models that build quick and fly great so we can get more stick time and develop our skills further in the air.

I have tried to get things moving forward, and my club does hold events for those in the scale and pattern flying community, but most young people I come across in the park have never heard of the local club and probably not likely to join either considering the hassles some put new comers through.

I want to see the club prosper. Its probably the only club around my parts with a purpose built concrete runway, great facilities and so forth. With older members likely to dwindle in the coming years, they are either going to fold or keep raising membership fees to cover the repayments on loans etc.

Lets hope things change.
It sounds like a challenge indeed but keep at it. We have a few "anti ARF" fanatics but we also have some extremely talented scratch and plan builders that are open enough to accept the overwhelming praise and acknowledgement from ARF fliers while admiring the benefits of an ARF.
I try to divert the "anti ARFs" by saying there is skill and art to "assembling" and finishing (fit and function) of ARFs that relates to the art of building. I also stress the reduced "attachment" of a 4-6 month build frees the pilot up to really advance their flying without as much fear of crashing. I try to express that the EPP foamies (although some consider owning or flying foamies as sacrilegious) are a means of "freeing" them up to learn guilt free. Many don't get it but some are coming around and it's amazing and fun to watch the smiles on their faces as their learning curves start to steepen.
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Old Dec 31, 2013, 10:23 PM
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I have a hard time believing that kits or scratch built planes get as many redesigns and tweaks as a plane from EF, 3DHS, etc. I'd rather spend the money on a nice ARF than spend countless hours scratch building something that will fly like a turd. It is good to have some building skills though. I've had a few bumps that required some rebuild effort. Heck, I rebuilt the front two-thirds of my Pilot RC Sbach after a dead-stick landing gone wrong. This hobby is really two hobbies in one for some...not for me. I barely have the patience to put together an ARF. I just want to fly.
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Old Dec 31, 2013, 10:40 PM
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I'd rather spend the money on a nice ARF than spend countless hours scratch building something that will fly like a turd.
I just want to fly.
+ 1,000,000 from me.
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Old Jan 02, 2014, 09:22 AM
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+ 1,000,000 from me.
Have to remember that the ARF designs came from all that laboring and tweaking. Now with CAD the tweaks are so much easier we forget about the work the scratch builders put in to pave the way.
Also I have to give "props" to several builders up here who are true craftsman. Really something to watch what they create. It's beyond my skill or patience level but I do appreciate their talent. John and Vin in particular have created some beautiful looking and nice flying machines.
I just couldn't free myself up from the "build commitment" of time and emotion to really let lose on it like I do with a high performance ARF. John will be building an EF 78 soon and I'm curious to see his reaction on the "build" / assembly and the performance.
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