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Birth of An Electrics-Only Club

Michael Rogozinsky takes an in-depth look at the inception and first year of an electrics-only modelling club in Canada.

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The Birth of TEMAC - The Toronto Electric Model Aviation Club

I have been flying electric model airplanes since 1982, and have been a member of several radio control clubs, some electric friendly, some not so electric friendly. In the mid 1980ís I joined the Electric Model Flyers of Southern Ontario, an association of electric model flyers that offered an informative newsletter, held meetings, organized funflies, and in recent years hosts a website, and organizes indoor funflies. I got more involved in the EMFSO when I became an executive member (secretary - responsible for membership). Over the years, the EMFSO discussed the idea of starting an exclusive electric R/C club.

While this topic was considered and being discussed at times over the years, most electric flyers joined local clubs in the Toronto. Although there were a few friendly and interested gas (internal combustion engine powered model) flyers, there were always a few unpleasant and even hostile gas flyers who made it their mission in life to make us feel like second class members. We always felt we had to prove something to the others; we never quite felt like we belonged there.

There was an informal group of electric flyers that met every Saturday and Sunday morning to fly, all year round. This was a terrific group of about a dozen electric-knowedgable guys. The problem with this informal club was that it wasnít MAAC (Model Aeronautics Association of Canada, the Canadian version of the AMA) sanctioned, and the field itself was too close to the street and electrical wires.

About 3 years ago, Brian Gillian, a north Toronto RCíer, started an exclusive helicopter club, for much the same reasons. About a year later, Brian had stated his intention to start an electric RC club and to find a piece of property. While there was a degree of excitement, nothing happened. Apparently, this was a time consuming project that was more than Brian could handle.

After much frustration with my membership at a north Toronto RC club, I started talking to a local hobby store owner who recalled that Brian had found a piece of land. I got in touch with Brian, and he gave me the name of the land owner. Now the ball was in my court.

In past experiences, organization and decision-making in clubs has been the subject of endless discussion and debate, so I decided to start this club myself. I would be responsible for all finances and decisions. My reasoning was that if the project failed, it would not be a drain on other flyers. If at any point success looked inevitable, I would be happy to let anyone else get involved. Should the club grow and become financially self-sufficient, I would resign as president and would initiate formal elections to have a new executive from our members.

LAND!

In fall 2003, the EMFSO confirmed that it would support me in this endeavor and my wife agreed that I (we) would be willing to partially finance this new club, for the first few years anyway. I called the land owner, a farmer, and went with a fellow RCíer, Andrť Wedseltoft, to meet him at the field, which is about a half-hour north of central Toronto. After some discussion and negotiation, the farmer offered us a 3-acre field for a yearly lease at $1,200. This included a driveway access, but we had to take care of the land development as suited for our needs. Knowing nothing about what needed to be done, I wrote a personal cheque to the farmer, and our club was born.

First Flights

Although the weather was getting colder as winter approached, Robert Pike, president of the EMFSO, met me at the field a couple of evenings later for an inaugural flight. We now had our field and model planes had flown (and landed in 2 feet deep weeds). Now the work was to begin.

The next step was to name our club. I came up with the name TEMAC, for the Toronto Electric Model Aviation Club. Then I registered the club with MAAC in order to qualify for sanctioned and insured flying. In order to achieve this, the club had to abide by standard safety rules, have a layout that assured that flying was at least 100 feet away from parked cars, and that the club was a specific distance from any other RC club and airports.

Legal Steps

At the advice of others, I incorporated the club as a non-profit organization (I wish we were doing that well!). I had to find a lawyer to do this. The purpose of this was two-fold: It provided additional protection in case of any serious legal problems, and it was necessary if I ever wanted to apply for a government grant in the future. As an incorporated entity, TEMAC needed to have an executive. I named 4 other adults as executive members, but made it clear to all that all decisions were to be mine for the time being. All agreed.

By this time word had gotten out and people were discussing what was happening on local RC bulletin boards. Finally we made brochures to display at hobby stores and our website went up. Without any conformation that a field would be ready for the following season, TEMAC signed up close to 20 members who paid $80 each up front. Some even gave small donations as well.

By late 2003, the EMFSO had decided to give TEMAC and additional $700 toward expenses. Things were looking good! Now I had to start thinking about getting the field ready for use.

Creating A Flyable Surface

By the end of the winter 2003/2004 (about March), all weeds on the field were gone. It was clear that the land would have to be flattened and grass would have to be planted before any weeds started to grow. I started calling local farmers and landscapers to see what kind of work was available and at what cost. I was shocked at how expensive any work would be, so I started asking some of the TEMAC members for help and advice.

I started getting positive feedback and willing offers of help from various members, but Spring turned out to be very cold and wet. Several members had already started getting up to the field and flying park-flyer size models. Then, in late April 2004, John Werner, vice-president of the EMFSO, graciously offered his tractor, experience and help to flatten the field and plant grass. Andrť offered to do the work with John. TEMAC would pay for any supplies and seed needed. They smoothed out and planted grass on the outer (eastern) strip of land for a runway. We planned to simply mow the weeds from the area that would be the pits and parking area.

I prepared a WINGS certificate program and enlisted 3 members as instructors. A sign was already posted at the front of the property on May 9, 2004.

Finally, at the end of May, the weather started to improve. I purchased some garden fencing and installed it at TEMAC, with help from some fellow members. A frequency board was installed and we were ready to fly. Despite the rough ground, we were officially open. As the days went by, the grass started to grow and TEMAC began to look like a real RC club!

Since the grass had not fully grown, I did not want to incur the expense of grass-cutting yet, so I purchased a manual mower, and shared the mowing chores with other members on an as-needed basis. This actually worked quite well. As the weekends came, more and more members began to come to fly. On some days there were a dozen flyers and as many as 20 or more planes to be seen flying.

It's Time for Rules

In order to keep our club as casual and informal as possible (that means Ďfuní), I established 5 basic rules for the club:

  1. There is no flying over the pits section of the field.
  2. All flyers must be MAAC members; no exceptions!
  3. Members without their pilotís certificate must fly under the supervision of a club instructor.
  4. All flyers must place a pin on the frequency board (on their frequency of course) before turning their transmitters on, and must remove the pin after turning their transmitters off.
  5. Lithium batteries are not to be charged in a car nor near anything flammable. (Guess why...well... letís just say the damage to my car was minor.)

By the end of May, we had 38 members! As enthusiasm for the club grew, members started to contribute more. One weekend morning, about a dozen flyers showed up and assembled 2 work tables that had been built by another member. As soon as they were in place, they were being used.

At the end of June, it was clear that we needed a professional landscaper to mow the field...a deal to have the grass cut once a week throughout the summer. The pits area would be cut to about 3Ĺ", the runway would be cut to about 2". Despite the rough ground, taking off with 2" or larger wheels proved no problem.

As well as flying almost every Saturday and Sunday, one of TEMACís instructorís promised to be at the field every Wednesday night to help those who want to train for their WINGS certificate, or simply to improve their flying. Before long, there were several flyers out every Wednesday and Thursday evening from about 6pm to sundown. Members were now flying larger and heavier models, as well as helicopters and ducted fan jets.

Settled Enough to Host a Funfly!

As August flew by, I had hoped to have a one-day funfly. Again, I was willing to do all work involved to prepare this event. Only 10 days before the funfly, I announced that it would take place on Sunday Sept. 5, 2004. I indicated that the funfly would be free to any MAAC member who flew electric models, and that prizes and a barbeque lunch would be offered. I was nervous that the event wouldnít attract flyers, but was pleasantly surprised that the funfly was in fact a huge success. We had 27 registered flyers, various kits were donated by local hobby stores as raffle, and our parking area was completely filled with flyerís and spectatorís cars.

Prizes were awarded in three categories: Best scale plane to Doug Deyell of Peterborough for his scratch built Globe Swift, Contest Directorís choice to Robert Pike of Toronto for his twin powered Canadair water bomber, and Pilotís Choice to Pat MacKenzie for his brushless powered aerobatic Citabria. Flyers came from as far away as Montreal, Quebec. To top it all off, there were no major crashes the entire day, and no planes were lost in the tall corn fields surrounding us.

As September is now slipping by, TEMAC is seeing a lot of electric model flying. The club has 44 members, most of whom I expect to join for the 2005 season. I also expect more new members to join as word of our club spreads and this amazing segment of the hobby continues to grow in popularity. There is no question that TEMACís first summer has been a success.

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Sep 23, 2004, 12:31 PM
Registered User
Congrats Michael on taking the plunge and going it alone to establish your club, and congrats on getting that successfull first year under your belt .....

Are you now going to have that election and completely "democratize" the club..?

Bill
Sep 23, 2004, 03:56 PM
I want to fly everything!
Lance Nordby's Avatar
Great article and very enjoyable to read about a successful electric only club launch.

What is the problem with these "slimer only" guys? I think THEY should be considered the second class citizens beings they are the ones with the mental hangups. For me this hobby is about flying, not diddling around with a slimey, smelly, loud motor. A toy airplane with a internal combustion motor is still a toy airplane.

Many times I have been flying my electric plane and some guy will come up and tell me about his plane (he used to fly) with a 40 Superslimer or 60 Canardlystart. Who cares? I like to respond with a list of the electric motors in my planes and enjoy the vacant look on their face.

Enough with my rant. Congrats and good luck with the club. Maybe a benign dictator is better than an elected president in this case.

Lance
Sep 23, 2004, 05:31 PM
Registered User
gordonbw's Avatar
As one of the TEMAC members, I can say that Michael has done an AMAZING job in getting the club off the ground. I hope E-Zoners visitng the Toronto area will drop by and see what has been accomplished in a very short time.
Sep 23, 2004, 10:26 PM
Spittin' Sparx forever...
DougB's Avatar
As the chairman for the MAAC Electric Committee, I've followed Michael and the club's achievements over the past year and I must say "Well Done!" TEMAC is an excellent addition to the MAAC list of E-Only clubs flying in Canada (of which there are now three officially sanctioned and chartered within MAAC) as well as the EMFSO organization. Congratulations...
DougB
Oct 11, 2004, 12:17 PM
Registered User
An all electric club is great - I belong to and own the land for our club, Sarasota Silent Flyers in Florida where we can fly evey day all day long. Our web site can be found at www.sarasotasilentflyers.com Jack Reinemeyer


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