1. The Camaraderie
Imagine getting up on a Saturday morning (or Tuesday, lucky you) and getting all of your gear together. You get to the flying field, and your best buddies are there setting up their planes, chatting about the latest models and the best places to buy parts ("Have you heard about Heads Up RC? They're awesome!") and joking about the nosedive Dave took last week. Dave needed a new prop after his debacle, and you gave him one. One of the guys let you charge your batteries on his charger when you forgot yours. Joining a flying club is a great way to make friends and enrich your flying experience.
2. Learning to Fly
Speaking of enriching your flying experience, most flying clubs offer training. They'll pair you with an experienced flyer who will help you get your plane off the ground. Using a buddy box, they'll help you get the hang of turning and landing without dipping the nose and upending your plane. When you get a little better, you'll want to ask about the cool tricks--like doing an end-over-end flip or floating the plane vertically--that some of the guys were doing.
3. The Field Itself
Flying clubs have dedicated spaces to fly. From little used airstrips to public or private parks to private property purchased by the club, you'll have a well-groomed--and maybe even paved--runway. You'll also have plenty of open space to find your plane in case you crash. Many sites have permanent structures, so you can sit in the shade, and workbenches to test your motors and servos before take-off.
4. AMA Membership
The majority of clubs hold an AMA charter, and an AMA membership is required to fly with them. The membership comes with myriad benefits, such as:
- Liability insurance. If something happens on the field, AMA has it covered.
- Resources. You'll receive the Model Aviation Magazine and access to members-only sections of their website.
- Connection to RC pilots across the country through social media.
All of these benefits and more are worth the annual fee.
5. The Fly-ins
Fly-in events are so much fun! Your club may host an event or two each year, and they'll invite other clubs and the public to fly and watch special events. There might be racing and raffles and stunt contests. You'll get to see models you might not have seen in action. You might see gas planes and FPV drones and scale models. And the food! Pilots love to eat!
We love to sponsor fly-ins and attend them when we can. If you're at a Florida meet, look for us! You might even see our banner as far away as New Jersey or Wyoming. Better yet, don't wait! If your club is hosting an event, shoot us an email at email@example.com. We'd love to hear from you!
Do you have your own reasons for joining a club that I haven't listed? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!