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Written by Tony Stillman
Showing Landowners How Flying Sites Benefit The Community
Review
As seen in the March 2019 issue of Model Aviation.


As you read this, we will still be in the cold of winter, but spring is only a couple of months away! I am looking forward to test-flying some new airplanes and even some highly modified ones. I look toward a fun year of flying ahead!

I have been busy supporting AMA clubs that have recently been informed that they are losing their flying sites in 2019. Some still have a year to find another site, but either way, losing a flying site can be devastating to a club.

During these trying times, it is vital for club members to continue to support the club and the efforts that are being made to find and secure a new site. In many of the cases with which I am currently assisting, the club already has a lead on a site and is working hard to do the things needed to secure it.

This often involves meeting with local government officials if you are considering city or county park land. I am assisting a club now that has a great lead on a closed landfill and the initial investigation looks positive.

If your club is in this position, please reach out to me. I have some concepts that I want to pass along, as well as some other items that will help you with your presentation to local site owners. I wanted to share a few of these concepts with my readers in hopes that you can improve your current flying site situation.

There are typically five basic parts of a presentation to a landowner. Here they are:

  1. Introduce your club as an AMA Chartered Club and expound on what that means. There are many components to this that need to be brought out in the presentation.
  2. Show how creating a flying site can help local governments solve the problem of pilots "flying drones" in the area without permission. The local flying site is where they can be directed for safe, legal flying in an area designed expressly for model flying.
  3. Show how creating a flying site can bring local dollars into the community. Having charity events for local or national charities is usually well supported by the community. Having the club champion such activities shows how it is part of the community. By staying in hotels and buying gasoline and food from local stores, club events support the community and are looked favorably upon by local government officials. Most well-known events across the country started as small events and grew slowly over time.
  4. Having the club serve as local "security" for the land. Clubs are known to make their flying sites better each year. Those improvements reflect favorably upon site owners and they don’t have to worry about destruction of their property by vandals if the site is frequently in use.
  5. Collaborating with local schools, Civil Air Patrol, EAA Young Eagles chapters, Boy Scouts, and church groups helps teach STEM concepts to eager young people who enjoy learning in a fun environment. Clubs have been doing this for years, but they need to let local government officials know of their involvement.

Although this is not everything that should be covered in a presentation, it hits the high points. AMA members fly according to a set of safety guidelines that have been in place for decades. The FAA even acknowledges AMA’s safety program as a safe way to fly, and as one approach to flying models legally in the US today.

AMA clubs can purchase a $2.5 million primary liability policy that covers site owners when AMA members fly on their land. This policy can be the item that tips the scale in favor of a club acquiring a flying site. Landowners must be protected if they are going to allow people to come onto their land.

I have several good PowerPoint presentations that clubs have used to state their cases for flying sites to government officials and landowners. These cover the previous five points and more. When you modify these presentations to reflect your club’s story, it can be a very powerful tool indeed.

I will gladly share these and other ideas with you. Please reach out to me and let me help. A new flying site can motivate new and old club members to get out and enjoy the skies and camaraderie of other fliers at the field. It makes all of the work worthwhile!

Now, back to the building room!

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