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Written by Tony Stillman, Flying Site Coordinator
Relationship building with communities and neighbors
As seen in the November 2016 issue of
Model Aviation.

As of this writing, we have just completed the [2016] AMA Nats here in Muncie, Indiana, and will soon see the end of summer. I hope you are enjoying model flying wherever you are. Some of the best weather can be in the fall, so enjoy!

I speak with AMA clubs that reach out to me for assistance and it seems that many situations that clubs deal with are not unique. Noise concerns at club flying sites are almost always at the top of the list of reasons why the club’s flying site is threatened. I have written several columns about noise and how you can help guard against future flying site concerns because of noise.

Although noise might be at the top of the list, another related issue could be even more important. That is being a good neighbor.

Unless the club flying site is located in an isolated area, you most likely have neighbors surrounding the area of your flying site. It is important to have good, active relationships with them!

Note that I wrote relationships. That word means much more than simply an occasional email to them. It is in the best interest of a club to have ongoing contact with neighbors. The club needs to know how the neighbors feel about the model flying activity and if there are any issues or problems on the horizon.

I know of several AMA clubs that have ongoing programs to interact with neighbors. One example of this is for a club to have a Community Day event. This type of event will typically feature model flying demonstrations by the club members, and even some buddy-box time for members of the community. If the event is well planned, you can have a major impact on how the local neighborhood views the club and the activities on your flying site.

Spectators waiting for a club air show.

Planning the event is important. The entire club needs to get behind the idea to make it happen. First, flyers need to be printed and passed out in the neighborhood. This is usually a door-to-door effort that takes feet on the ground. It is a good way to get everyone in the club involved. The flyers contain event details, which usually include free hamburgers/hot dogs for the neighbors.

As part of the program, someone from the club can make a presentation to the neighbors, explain a little about RC flying, and talk about how the club and its members are part of the AMA and that the aeromodeling activity is protected by laws passed by Congress. Explain that the FAA also approves of the activity.

It might also be a good time for a short question-and-answer session for the neighbors. This is how you can really know what they are thinking and what issues they might have. Listening and working with them is how you can protect your flying site from future surprises. You might even acquire some new members in the process!

I know of clubs that do this annually and have more than 90 people show up, fly models, and have a good time. New relationships are made, and a feeling that the club is a part of the community is realized.

You might want to invite local officials such as the park and recreation department directors, city or town council members, and the local media! Having good public relations is your goal and reaching out and being proactive is the best way to get it. Any club can do this. It simply requires a vision to see how important your club image is to the community.

I can help you with this project with handout materials and ideas to share with you. Make your club be seen as an asset to your community!

Be safe and have fun!

Local kids scramble to pick up candy released from an airplane.

- Tony Stillman, Flying Site Coordinator


LakeLand R/C inc has been doiing this for years wher we invite the public for a 'FREE' of Charge Day of flying fun and flight demonstrations. Our club has been at it's present site since the early 70's a Full Scale Private Restricted airport (0WI8). We place signs out at the buzy intersections East and West of our Facility.
The Problem we see Maybe developing is New Housing developements movin in. This New Development is 2200' SE of our center flight station and growing. The problem is We Face south and fly twords the developement. The next concern iis that there 2 new grade schools a church and a day care center are being built about 3/8 of a mile due East and in line with our Model runway. They say there will be a 29 acre Park agacent to our property line between us and the New Schools.
Community relations will/are going even more of a cercen to us in the near feature.

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