Five Tips to Share Model Aviation at an Event During a Global Pandemic

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Written by Chad Budreau
View From HQ
As seen in the December 2020 issue of Model Aviation.

MORE THAN EVER, people are looking for recreational activities that can be safely conducted while slowing the spread of COVID-19. Our hobby is a great way to relax and challenge oneself while also complying with health and safety guidelines.

Communities and health officials are finding ways to allow for some level of normalcy, while also slowing the spread of COVID-19. Of course, most large events have been canceled or postponed, but smaller community gatherings are taking place safely across the country. Although not appropriate for all, in some cases, community events could be opportunities to safely share the hobby.

A museum near AMA Headquarters hosted an outdoor Family Adventure Day in October. Participants had to preregister to control attendance and breaks were scheduled for regular sanitization. A few AMA staff members volunteered their time at this event to showcase our hobby as a great family activity. We safely allowed for limited use of our simulation trailer and conducted flight demonstrations.

Efforts such as this introduce the hobby to newcomers and build goodwill in the community. We encourage all clubs to give back to their communities and fill their "social piggy bank." One day, you might need to cash in on your social piggy bank and ask for help from a local legislator or community leader, and giving back is the right thing to do!

The following are five tips if your club decides it can safely participate in a community event.

1. Comply with local and federal health guidelines. We can all cite many of these recommendations in our sleep, including social distancing, wearing masks, and regularly sanitizing. Many participants will look to event leaders to set the tone, so be a good example. It is easy to fall into old habits such as neglecting social distancing. Consider using your safety coordinator to address any issues and help educate. Don’t forget to bring extra supplies for volunteers and guests, including soap, water, hand sanitizer, towels, disinfectant wipes, extra masks, and trash cans.

2. Qualify your volunteers. Have enough volunteers to safely conduct the event but consider limiting participation. Respect the wishes of any club members who are not comfortable volunteering. Ask all volunteers to conduct a self-assessment and deny entry to anyone who shows any COVID-19 symptoms. Educate all volunteers about the rules before and during the event.

3. Showcase the hobby, offer a diverse static display at the event, and consider flight demonstrations. Conduct buddy-box flying if you can maintain social distancing. AMA Headquarters is fortunate to have a simulation trailer, but clubs can introduce newcomers to the hobby on a smaller scale by using laptops. Be sure to sanitize the transmitters between each use; do not let guests touch the laptop; and restrict crowding around the screens.

4. Post signs in highly visible locations that promote protective measures. Regularly broadcast announcements or communicate to guests about how to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Guidelines and free signs can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s communications resources page (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/print-resources.html).

5. Share news of your event, stream it, and broadcast it. Attendance will be down, so bring the event to your community. Post social media updates. If possible, conduct livestreams. Connect with your local newspaper, TV, or radio station. In all messaging, be sure that everyone is complying with all safety precautions. If you receive publicity, apply for AMA’s Club Recognition and Reward program grant at amafoundation.modelaircraft.org.

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Regardless of how you share this great hobby, be sure to do it safely! Safety has always been, and will remain, a cornerstone of AMA.

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AMA staff participated in a community Family Adventure Day to showcase the hobby. Staff members placed signs throughout the simulation trailer, regularly sanitized, and maintained social distancing.

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