One of the most common questions that I hear from clubs is, “How do we grow our membership? We’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work.”
The short answer is that maybe it’s time to try everything again. How long has it been since you last reached out to a school, church, or civic organization? What might not have worked five or 10 years ago might be the perfect solution today.
With all the media attention that’s now given to unmanned aircraft, I’ve found that there’s renewed interest in our hobby and plenty of people who want to know how to get started. Contact your local Scout troop again. Did you know that there’s a merit badge that Scouts can earn for RC participation?
How about introducing aeromodeling and mentoring at your local schools? I know of several clubs in my area that had positive results with this type of involvement. How about magazines? If you’re like me, we tend to hold onto them forever. Instead of having them set around the house or shop collecting dust, take a few to the library, the doctor’s office, or the barber shop. I’m sure they would all be glad to receive them and it might earn you a kind word from your significant other.
At day’s end, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel to find ways to bring aeromodeling to others. Instead, continue the commitment to get the word out and share the joy our hobby brings.
Wisconsin associate vice president Marc “Doc” Shelstrom submitted this event report and photos from the Platteville Area Modelers club, which reached out to local residents by hosting an open house.
I sit here with the wind howling outside and temperatures below zero and reflect on what was a hot summer day with temperatures in the high 90s and humidity at 90%. Platteville Area Modelers (PAM) had its first Neighborhood Appreciation Cookout on August 24, 2013. The club has 18 members from Wisconsin and Iowa.
The club flies at an abandoned airport with an 1,800-foot east/west asphalt runway and a grass runway that runs north/south. The airfield is in southwest Wisconsin, approximately 6 miles from the town of Platteville. The airfield is surrounded by farmland and a housing settlement. The club hosted a barbecue and invited all of the residents within a mile radius of the airfield. Roughly 30 of the 40 invitees attended and enjoyed grilled hamburgers, bratwursts, salads, desserts, and soft drinks.
The event was cosponsored by Schmidt Electrical Construction, which provided shade tents and an air-conditioned trailer. Inside the trailer, a flight simulator was set up. The young people spent a great deal of their time trying out the simulator and avoiding the heat.
A buddy-box was also set up so that interested neighbors could try their hands at flying. Although it was very windy, club members put on flight demonstrations of various types of airplanes from small electrics to a 33% Sukhoi. One club member drove a gas-powered RC car on the asphalt runway.
Ninety-seven-year-old Shirley Nodorft-Ward attended the picnic. She and her husband, Bill, established the airport in 1947, and she was a pilot and reminisced at the picnic about her experiences. One of the interesting stories she told was how she propped her own Cub to get it started. Karla Egan-Dailey, the current owner of the airfield, said, “Shirley didn’t want to leave. She really enjoyed the day.”
The day was a successful public relations event so the club plans to host the Neighborhood Appreciation Cookout again this summer. Plans are in the works to expand the event to attract new members, especially kids.
Take a kid flying!