Many people will debate about the pros and cons of flying fields vs. flying clubs. I, for one, am definately a club supporter. Sure, fields don’t have the clouded airspace, sometimes boring meetings, and that one guy that always strikes up a conversation you don’t want to have… but fields have their disadvantages as well.
Fields aren’t maintained for use primarily by RC aircraft, which means your “runway” may be rittled with divots and bumps that reap havok on your landing gear. Also, there may be airplane magnets… also know as trees, telephone poles, hills, and retention ponds; and there is always the looming threat of other people. Now, the AMA recommends to fly at approved RC clubs, but if you fly at a park or field only fly where your local laws allow. I’m not sure what your specific ordinances are, but the ones where I live are pretty reasonable for an urban area: RC aircraft are permitted in public parks if they are under 96 dbs, if they stay over the public park (i.e. no over-flight of roads, houses, private property that isn’t yours, power lines, etc.), and the big one… people. Yeah, people. No over-flight of people, and no flying when people are using the park for its intended use. Don’t you hate other people?
Well, if you join a club, you don’t have those silly people playing soccer or baseball where your runway is suppose to be, and normally you don’t have those annoying airplane magnets. Sure you have club dues to pay, and you may have to spend an hour cooking burgers at an event, but in return you get a state of the art airpark manicured specifically for model aircraft flying, and you are surrounded by people who are intersested in the same thing as you are who can provide information, help with trouble shooting, and strike up conversation pertaining to something you both have in common… RC flying.
These are some things to consider next year when you pay your AMA dues. Think, am I happy flying at the park? Do people get in my way? Would I like to be surrounded by other RC enthusiasts? Would I like to become a part of a club or organization that can help me advance in my hobby?
Who knows? Clubs aren’t for everybody, and if you fly at a park and don’t feel that a club environment is for you, then don’t sweat it. However, if you wish you had a few extra brains to help solve a problem, or you think you would like to help other people, or even if you just want a place to fly where you don’t have to dodge soccer balls and goal posts, look around and maybe tour a nearby flying club. You might be glad you did.