AMA's TAG Program: Take Off and Grow! Article - RC Groups

AMA's TAG Program: Take Off and Grow! Article

The Modesto Radio Control Club was one of at least 44 clubs participating in the AMA's TAG program this year. This program's goal is to get more people into our hobby with a hands-on approach. See the Modesto club's first weekends of Take Off and Grow.



One of the ways that the AMA promotes the growth of our hobby is through their Take Off and Grow (TAG) program, a program designed to encourage members and clubs to promote modeling in their communities. Clubs selected to host a TAG Model Aviation Day are given ideas on pre-promoting the event and an outline of activities for the event. On the actual day of the event, each attendee gets to work on a computer flight simulator with an experienced RC model pilot to help them become familiar with the basics. Then, they're given the opportunity to fly a trainer model on a buddy box under the guidance of an AMA IP Instructor.

The Modesto RC Club (AMA # 135) applied to participate this year and was selected to be part of the program. In April, the club received two RealFlight flight simulators, two Futaba buddy boxes, two Futaba transmitters and two Superstar glow-powered planes, ready to fly from the AMA and courtesy of Hobbico! At the end of the event, the club was able to keep these as a little thank you from the AMA.

Our club at the Modesto Reservoir County Park had one problem: we're an electric and glider club and we are not allowed to fly glow or gas powered planes at our flying field. Our President, Charles Eaton, called the AMA, and they arranged to swap the installed glow powered engines and fuel tanks for two RimFire outrunner motors with speed controllers. The club was responsible for obtaining the necessary batteries to power the electric motors. Ed Holt of our club made the motor mounts for the electric motors to fit into the Superstar planes.

I want to compliment the AMA and the manufacturers who helped with this project for having the flexibility to allow our club to immediately convert from glow power to electric power! The AMA shipped the motors and controllers and included a return shipment label for the engines and gas tanks. All of the cooperation was greatly appreciated.

The Plane:Hobbico SuperStar
Wing Area:660 sq. in.
Weight:5 lbs. 1 oz.
Servos:4 Std Futaba
Transmitter:Futaba Skysport 4 channel
Buddy Box:Trainer System
Receiver Battery:Futaba 4-cell
Motor Battery:Polyquest 3-cell 3700 mAh LiPoly
Motor:RimFire 42-40-1000
ESC:Castle Creations Phoenix 60
Propeller:APC 11 x 7E thin electric
Supplied by:The AMA

The Supplied Equipment

Testing RealFlight Generation 3.5 on my Laptop

I was delighted to find the two donated simulators were RealFlight Generation 3.5. The same RealFlight program I reviewed last year for RCGroups. I did that review on my new Dell computer, and now I had to make sure it would work on my 2 year old HP Laptop. A couple hours of "work" with the simulator on my laptop proved it worked fine.

Plane Preparation

Ed Holt assembled both planes and in the process added some club decals and numbers to personalize the two Superstar ARF e-conversions. Ed made the mounts and removable hatches on the top front of the planes with ease of access to the battery motor pack in mind. He replaced one wing dowel, but everything else was of good quality. The planes balanced right on the mark with the Polyquest battery packs. A big thanks to Ed for getting it done on very short notice. FYI per Ed: Static Measurements: Amps 27, Volts 11.1, RPM 8,000 & Watts 265.

Saturday May 12 - Recruitment Day!

Saturday, May 12th was the annual Open House Day at the Modesto Airport, and as in years past, our club participated in this event. We set-up a display table and passed out magazines and material about our club, our field, and showed off some of our electric planes. This year, thanks to the TAG program, we had a flight simulator set-up for people to operate.

We also did some RC demo flying, and invited those (we passed out over 120 flyers) that were interested in trying some hands-on flying themselves to come to our field on Sunday May 20th or Sunday June 17th. (Below are the pictures from Saturday, May 12th.) A B-17 was at the event, and I have included a short video of it as it was far more interesting than the other video I shot of people on simulators!

Deserving special mention for their efforts on Recruitment Day were Charles Eaton who worked closely with people on the flight simulator, especially the children. Mac Powell was great at making friends and passing out fliers. Ed Holt and Bob Hoffman also did some good club public relations.


Sunday, May 13th - Test flight of the Converted SuperStar

Ed Holt made two wooden mounts for the RimFire outrunner motors and installed the motors and the Phoenix 60 ESC. He used a Polyquest 3s 3,000 LiPoly pack for the first test flight and used two ounces of lead to balance on the CG. Plane # 2 was test flown on Sunday the 13th and flew very nicely at 1/2 throttle. I was not able to attend the test flight but below are some pictures Ed supplied of the plane on the ground and in flight.

Thursday, May 17, Battery Packs arrive from Hobby Lobby!

Big Thanks to Jason Cole at Hobby Lobby as well as Russell in the Sales Department. Our club purchased three 3700 mAh Polyquest packs and I purchased a 4th pack (to share with my club) and some connectors and things and they gave us a good price and great service. I ordered Tuesday morning, and the packs arrived on Thursday. I soldered the Dean Ultra connectors to the packs Thursday night to get them ready for Sunday.

Sunday May 20, Flying with the Buddy Box!

On Sunday, the first ground school, a short course covering the basics, started at 9:00. We covered how the controls work, we discussed how the instructor pilots have control for takeoffs and landings and would take control if a student got into trouble, instructed on body positioning (to keep their body and the transmitter facing the same way as the plane) and taught basics on how turns are made. We finished the ground school with information on the flight line - where a person should and should not fly. A flight simulator was available for those that wanted to warm up with them. All instruction was done in an enthusiastic and encouraging way.

Meanwhile Ed determined the plane balanced perfectly with the 3700 mAh Polyquest battery pack and he and Don Duerksen made sure the servo switches on the buddy box were properly aligned with the main transmitter's controls and did a short test/demo flight.

But the emphasis was on the actual flying with the instructor in control. The instructor would take off with the plane and climb to altitude and make the first lap around the field giving the student a chance to watch what he was doing on the transmitter. Then, with the plane flying away from the student, the student took over on the buddy box. The pictures and videos below feature one of our instructors, Don Duerksen, working with some of the student flyers.


During the morning we had a few short demo flights by club members between TAG flights. Ed Holt did a demo flight with his Predator and a fast Alfa WW II fighter plane. Benard Simpier did a demo flight with his Rough and Ready Albatross D III WW I fighter plane. John Raley did a demo flight with a Multiplex EasyStar and gave a flight using his buddy box with it as well.

Bonus Coverage

TAG at the 114th R/C Aero Squadron

Wendall Hubbard, a fellow reviewer here at RCGroups, advised me his club is participating in this program in Grapevine Texas and had their first event in connection with Model Aviation day on April 21st and 22nd. They had over 100 students fly that weekend! They customized their flight simulators by installing photos of their field into the flight simulator. Look for more details of their event in the AMA's Model Aviation magazine in a few months in an article by Daniel Cole. They had 4 flight simulators running at their field with computers and large LCD displays loaned to their club by Best Buy. They fly RC Power with glow fuel for their TAG events.

Our clubs share the same goal of expanding our great hobby of model flying. The pictures below were forwarded to me by Wendall and were taken by Dick Lessard, the club's newsletter editor.

Celebrating the great outdoors is the theme of the annual Main Street Days Festival in Grapevine, TX. The 114th Aerosquadron manned a booth with four simluators and airplanes on static display to introduce the public to radio controlled flight. Pictures below supplied by Ronnie Pope. The event was the weekend of May 19 and 20.


The Superstar, as converted, flew very nicely. It could take an extra cell but they were plenty fast as outfitted. Most flying on a windy day was done at half throttle. They flew with authority and suffered no damage. Jeanne even did two intentional loops. One student did an Immelmann accidentally but fortunately at altitude. Don Duerksen did a few nice loops and axial rolls just to show the students what the plane could do.

The TAG program has been a success for our club members and our community. The AMA has already picked up some new members via this program and our events. Fathers and sons, while not are only participants, have been our biggest demographic: reports of boys waking their dads up early so they would be sure to get to the flying field on time have come back to us! We are grateful to the AMA for creating an active program to help our club share our great hobby with others in a very hands on way. We hope it will help our club, as well as the AMA, grow.

Last edited by Angela H; Jul 03, 2007 at 10:09 PM..
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Jul 04, 2007, 05:31 PM
Registered User
pda4you's Avatar
Fantastic job Mike and Wendell and all the others that helped everyone see the joy of Model Aviation!

It reminds me of my first outing I was 14 as was a good friend. We had a Airtronics Q-Tee and Cox .049. You can guess how the day ended. An airplane in a million pieces (including the motor and RADIO!) and two boys that were frustrated.

We didn't give up and are both self took me a Marks Models Wanderer 72" glider and about a bazillion hand launches and quick flights to the ground. I finally got the hang of it well enough to stick an .049 on that and learned how to fly.

I wish I would have gone the TAG route!

Jul 06, 2007, 10:01 AM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
dawnron1's Avatar
GREAT job Mike, thanks for using my photos. TAG is a wonderful way to introduce new pilots to the hobby!

Jul 06, 2007, 10:42 AM
Deletedfor proving Nauga wrong
Excellent write up of a successful project.


We have at least one event a year hosting the Cub Scouts, and often 2 or three other events for other groups. And we have an active beginner's training program. (put on hold this year due to the runway being appx 3 ft under water right now...) Club members bring their still servicable trainers and off we go.

Our local club was trying to set up a club owned trainer a couple of years ago.

One member donated the kit.
I built it.
Another member donated radio + engine and installed them.

Then... we ran into problems with storage of the trainer and getting it to the field for our weekly "Beginner's Night". (It wouldn't have survived in our mower shed)

The plane eventually just dissapeared. No one remembers for sure who had it last...

Because of that... It would be difficult to get the club to try it again.

For a club that has the correct facilities and can keep track of the equipment, it looks like a great program.
Jul 12, 2007, 12:38 PM
Use the 4S Luke
feathermerchant's Avatar
Wendell - we need to get our Telemasters built so we can have some electric trainers.
Jul 22, 2007, 11:34 AM
Registered User
epwierman's Avatar
Great Work Folks!!!

Grass roots efforts such as this make a real difference. Very well done.

Keep up the great work,


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