How to plan a successful RC event!

How to plan a successful RC event!

As the MAN crew covered Florida Jets, it got us thinking about our friend Frank Tiano who unfortunately passed in early 2021. Frank redefined what a major RC event is and was as much a promoter as he was a modeler. Please enjoy this look back on his thoughts on how establish a successful event.

Our editors have often been asked what is required to put on a successful RC event, so we went to the man who has hosted more events, fun flys and competitions than anyone else, Frank Tiano, to see what he thinks is important. Here’s his advice.

Hangar Membership - Membership | How To Plan successful RC model airplane EventsRecently, while speaking with MAN editor Gerry Yarrish, we somehow got onto the subject of what we go through while planning an event. Like, what goes on from the day I get an idea, to the day the gates open? Just the other day someone had asked me if I’d be interested in doing an event on their home field in the Southeast. By the time I finished with my grocery list of requirements my friend basically said, “Fuhgettaboudit”. So, here’s a scenario of taking an idea for an event right up to the first day of pilot arrivals.


The very first thing I look at is:  “will the event will fit in the location”. Meaning, where will everything fit in place? Let’s say we are expecting 60 pilots. Is there room for all 60 to park their vehicles and trailers near where they will pit from? Good. Now, if you are expecting spectators, do you have room for a few hundred cars? Is the parking area solid enough so that if it rains you don’t have a mud-hole? Great. 60 pilots most likely will have a significant other whether that person is their wife, girlfriend, caller or helper.

Hangar Membership - Membership | How To Plan successful RC model airplane EventsPlaying the averages, you can expect at least 65% to have one of these so the base attendance has just increased to about 100 folks. Now, are we going to need to feed these people? Yes? Great, and how about the spectators? Okay, so do we have a clean spot for a food vendor to set up his operation? Oh, you didn’t think of a food vendor? The Club will take care of it? Great, and they have experience in having 30 or 40 people come all at once at lunchtime for something to eat? If not, then let’s get looking for a food vendor. If we have reached this point, I’ll take it for granted that the event is a GO, so we should apply for the AMA event sanction.

Okay, we’ve got a great field to fly from, safe and with plenty of overfly area. We’ve got plenty of space for our pilots and their trailers and some designated area for spectators to park. Are you charging admission? Like $10 a car load or maybe just $5 a person? And you have some club members to stand by the entrance to accept the entrance fee and make change? And of course you figured on a relief crew right? I mean you don’t expect two people to stand there all day do you? Yes, I provide a shade tent for our people at the gate and we do provide chairs for them to sit and rest and we do have an alternate on site to replace someone if they get too hot or just too tired?

Hangar Membership - Membership | How To Plan successful RC model airplane Events

Oh yes, and because we are charging an admission fee to spectators we also must comply with the law and provide “Handicap” parking spaces. These spaces must be close to the action so as to shorten the distance from the cars to the viewing area

The Basics

Well, let’s see, has anybody thought of where to place the porta-potties? That is potties with an “S” because with a hundred pilots and crew and a few hundred spectators, one pottie just ain’t gonna cut it! Just to be safe, let’s get two regular units and one handicap unit. And when we order the toilets, plan on one “clean-out” service, say Saturday morning, to have them all refreshed. Those holding tanks only accommodate about 1 and a half day’s usage. And let’s not forget we’ll need someone designated to keep those units stocked with tissue.

Hangar Membership - Membership | How To Plan successful RC model airplane EventsSeems we’ve pretty much got it all taken care of now. I mean, if we really wanted to be a class act, we could spring for the $400 to have a “Dining Tent” put up so that patrons and pilots can sit and eat in comfort, out of the sun and dust. Good idea? Great!

(Left) Food vendors are a great way to take care of all the people that attend your event!

Flight Line Management

Heading up to the business end of the site, let’s see what we need to do to make the pilot areas work. Of course we’ll need some sort of tent or structure to house the Registration table. A PA system would sure be nice so we are able to make announcements. Let’s put someone in charge of setting up the PA system, amplifiers and speakers and check them out beforehand so that we don’t have to fuss with them during the event. Of course a person to handle the announcements, or to keep the spectators informed of what’s flying, would be a cool treat. Don’t forget some sort of large umbrella for that announcer area to keep the guy from frying!

Hangar Membership - Membership | How To Plan successful RC model airplane Events











Perhaps the next thing to address is something to act as a barrier, and to designate a viewing area, to help protect spectators. We should also think of how we want to protect the pilots from any airplane having a mishap while taking off or landing. PVC pipe makes a great structure with some orange construction fencing tie-wrapped to keep it in place. And while on the subject of keeping pilots safe, are we going to have a “Flight Line Crew” to help announce departures and arrivals, to help avoid any possible collisions? Even two guys would be useful. Oh, one more thing! If our site is one that is friendly to belly landings and is wide open enough that we can easily get to downed aircraft, some sort of “Crash Cart” is essential! A Gator or similar vehicle works great. If jets will be in attendance, we really should have some sort of fire-fighting equipment on a trailer towed behind the crash cart to help distinguish any small flames. It’s also a great idea to notify the local Police and Fire Department that you are hosting an event, offering them two contact people’s names and cell phone numbers and the address of the field.

Anything Else?

Well, I think we’ve about got it! Other than procedural stuff, like whether you allow guys to taxi-back after landing or wish them to clear the runway ASAP, I believe the event is about ready to open for business. Of course we must get some road signs put up in strategic areas to inform the public what and where this show is taking place, and we’ll make sure that the area where the people collect the admission fee is far enough inside the property so not to cause traffic problems with cars stacked up waiting to get in. And we did think of making the entrance road wide enough to allow emergency vehicles to enter or exit while a line of cars is stacked up, right? Great, then as far as I can tell we are all set to rock and roll. Have a great event

Hangar Membership - Membership | How To Plan successful RC model airplane Events!











First Time Event Check List

  • Discuss details with club members
  • Decide what type of event: Fun Fly, Fly In, Competition, Special Theme.
  • Check for usable dates to avoid conflicts with other nearby events
  • Assign task to AMA qualified Contest Director
  • Contact possible sponsors for awards/prizes/support
  • Send event flyers and invitations to local clubs. (email and USPS)
  • Plan for food, safety and porta-pottie(s)
  • Assign jobs for pilot registration, parking and flight line management
  • Advertise locally and in AMA magazine
  • Make “Thank You” signage to display at event for sponsors
  • After event, publish Club Newsletter to highlight event results and send to local clubs, the AMA and to all Sponsors.

Hangar Membership - Membership | How To Plan successful RC model airplane EventsOne way to make sure all the pilots attend the daily safety meeting is to make it fun and sorta trick everyone by calling it a quicky flash raffle. Then when you have everyone there, you can go over the rules of the event, and then finish up by giving the prize to a kid who happens to be there. Everyone will have fun, you’ll get important information distributed and it all is done with people feeling good about your event.

Give your registered pilots and their crew and family a reason to what to come back next year. Sorta like good-will marketing!


  1. Good write-up.I have been to many of Frank’s events and can see all of that planning in use.

    One thing left out…be sure the club members WANT an event. Some clubs, including mine, would rather never have a day the field can’t be for their exclusive use and they don’t care to participate.

  2. Frank was the consummate organizer. It was a real pleasure attending Top Guns over the years! This summary shows Frank’s attention to detail and his long experience hosting events. He was a great host of evening banquets, as well!

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