Clubs or Fields?

Model Airplane News - RC Airplane News | Clubs or Fields?

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.

–Tom K.

Updated: July 16, 2015 — 3:58 PM


  1. Park flying will continue to grow. I fly both club and park. I prefer park as its 5min from home the field is near perfect and large plus my girlfriend can fly her Radian and not worry about peer pressure from a bunch of guys and she doesnt have to pay fees. Many park flyers dont like clubs because of very strict rules. Also because of noise restriction getting worse every year park flying is going to grow!
    I also fly IMAC with 40%er and gasser warbirds so there is advantages in club flying too 😉

  2. As a life long aero modeler I’ve had the opportunity to fly from most every location. Sailplanes from the slopes of a mountain, heli’s at night from a lighted empty parking lot, light weight electric planes from any suitable suburban open space, float planes from any suitable lake, but big noisy glow/gas powered planes only from club fields for obvious reasons. I’ve been a member of 5 different AMA chartered RC Clubs and as many of you know, some clubs are better than others. Find the club and field that is most suitable to you. Become an positive contributing member. That means contribute your time, efforts, and leadership to make that club the best that it can be. You’ll be amazed how other will rise to a higher level as well.The payback is that you and your new friends all can enjoy all of the rewards that this hobby offers. It’s priceless.

  3. Usually, the greatest potential threat to the continued existence of your scratch-built rc electric parkflyer are kids who mean well, meaning to retrieve one’s plane if not brought in exactly where it took of from or was hand-launched.

    They’re not much of a threat to plastic or foam structures, but it can become very taxing to one’s nervous system when there’s a scale job in question which has stringers galore on the fuselage. Thin balsa stringers are easily broken by unknowing hands that actually meant well. So, besides trees, poles, and fences, and because in lots of places flying sites are rare, we take on certain risks as we always have.

    Before RC, wasn’t there the occasional out-of-sight, never to be found again? The guys who were most safe from such perils were the control line flyers, probably still are.

    Dogs can be cute too, but I’ve been lucky in that regard.
    If you see a dog on the loose, pray it has a soft, retriever mouth! Like kid spectators, they mean well.

    A word about club flying fields: When I was learning to operate the RC TX, a so-called competent club instructor opted to help me. I had complete confidence in the guy, based upon other club members recommendations.
    So, he took my work of love up, it flew right off the board, no vices, and in a few minutes engaged in a mid-air with another plane pretty much minding its own business.

    After that, I took my self-inflicted lumps and taught myself.
    That was long ago, over 30 years ago. Now, I fly park-style, mainly 40″ w.s. or smaller, running from 8 oz AUW to 18 oz. AUW. Easily transportable and light enough in structure not to sustain heavy damage if I foul up. Actually, they’re like freeflights with today’s mini-radio gear. I still love to scratch build, but short kits are great too!

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