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BMFA numbers. Is this true, or a gross exaggeration?

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Erfolg12/11/2019 14:16:44
11856 forum posts
1362 photos

Can this be true

The British Model Flying Association (BMFA) told the Sunday Telegraph it had lost more than 2,000 members in the last year, after it was announced they would have to register and take tests as part of incoming drone regulations.

If so what will be the longer term implication?

If not true, who said what and why?

Steve J12/11/2019 14:24:16
2110 forum posts
61 photos

The BMFA's proposed budget for '20/21 for the AGM has the following membership numbers -

17/18 35,200

18/19 34,000

19/20 32,000

20/21 31,000

I suspect that some of the above is people moving to cheaper providers of insurance.

Erfolg12/11/2019 14:36:07
11856 forum posts
1362 photos


When I went through the (BMFA) accounts, I could see that the expenditure was based on a reducing membership. I was not completely convinced that what was expected, or prudent accounting.

It did strike me that the values were directly proportional, again I tended to see that as confirmation of a prudent 5 year type plan.

It is the reduction of 2,000 members that has startled me. Particularly in that events in one of my clubs indicate that many are not as committed to the RC aspect of the hobby as I thought.

Ray Wood 412/11/2019 15:48:57
256 forum posts
44 photos

Hi All,

This is not a surprise to me all aspects of practical hobbies are in gradual decline as practical skills are not required for many of us to earn a living if we are lucky, I fly RC, float boats & run on rails with steamers all disciplines are facing the same issues, and as mobility becomes an issue and folk stop driving, need I go on, probably not. Enjoy your chosen hobby while you can

Glad I took my A test all those years ago !!

Regards Ray

Edited By Ray Wood 4 on 12/11/2019 15:50:05

Steve J12/11/2019 15:58:20
2110 forum posts
61 photos
Posted by Erfolg on 12/11/2019 14:36:07:

It is the reduction of 2,000 members that has startled me. Particularly in that events in one of my clubs indicate that many are not as committed to the RC aspect of the hobby as I thought.

FPVUK has c. 3,000 members. Add that to the BMFA total and you have covered the loss.

It's a hobby, not a lifetime commitment. People come and go.

Wilco Wingco12/11/2019 16:21:37
257 forum posts
3 photos

That's still a loss of a lot of revenue and like Steve J said maybe some are moving to a cheaper supplier of insurance.? It all adds up and a steady and persistent decline must be seen a concerning too the powers that be?.

Cuban812/11/2019 16:54:55
3106 forum posts
1 photos

I'm not at all convinced that the driving factor behind the drop in BMFA membership is the cost of membership. I don't think that it's unreasonable to assume that most members join through affiliated clubs so the cost of club and BMFA is an overhead that one accepts as long as one wishes to take part in the hobby. Maybe a few clubs have come away from the BMFA umbrella to save a few quid and I suppose those lone flyers or small groups of independent flyers might choose to just source insurance cover for their needs without all the other BMFA 'baggage' as they see it.

Sadly, the hobby is gradually fading away from the dynamism of years past driven by the 'airmindedness' and fascination with flight of us older flyers, that younger generations don't share. - it won't disappear altogether, but will continue at a much reduced scale over the next ten or fifteen years as time takes its toll and club membership declines. What the BMFA will be facing then, I don't like to contemplate and I can't offer any suggestions as to how to reduce the slow but steady drain in numbers.. We've seen this coming so why should anyone be surprised?

My own club has a 5-7% reduction of members year on year, but the lost members are no longer being replaced at the level that we need from young learners and other beginners.

BTW....I and many others do object in principle to being included in the registration scheme despite what's said in the article. Anyway, we are where we are.


Edited By Cuban8 on 12/11/2019 17:02:25

Keith Sharples12/11/2019 17:08:06
155 forum posts
2 photos

It is of concern the dwindling numbers in the hobby. I feel Its dwindling as the hobby is quite strongly related to those that are of a certain age! Young blood needs to be attracted into the hobby but how to do it is the problem. Perhaps clubs at (using a political saying) grass roots level should be more proactive in attracting young people into the hobby. Maybe open days for parents to bring along youngsters. Take flying demos along to summer fetes ( I know there would be insurance issues). Have club display stands at summer fetes and talk to people etc etc. I'm sure some of these have been done by some clubs with probably varying degrees of success. At the LMA Cosford show this year they ran 2 flight lines and had flight slots inviting anyone who had not flown before to have a go. It looked very successful and must of sparked off some to get involved in the hobby.

What I'm getting at really is, the hobby overall is slowly dwindling in numbers so it's up to those left to reinvent the hobby. Clubs and club members get togeather and try different ways of tempting young blood to join. Some will work some won't but keep plugging away at it. Just sitting and saying it's dwindling and not try something is not good.

Something a bit different I know but I joined my local camera club (photography, my other hobby) 3 years ago. That first year I went to the AGM, the treasurer advised how the club was doing and membership was dwindling (at the time 14) causing finance problems. They then proceeded to come up with, we need to cut this, cut that, not meet so often etc etc to save money. It was all doom and gloom. My thought was not cut anything but get more members. I suggested this but it fell on stoney ground as no one would move on the idea. Anyway my wife (also mad on photography) and I took the idea on board. We organised exhibitions, had a market stall displaying pictures from the club, ran classes open to non club members etc now 2 years later membership is 27 and last year we had a little surplus money left at the end of the season so it can be done. RC modeling is a different hobby but come on I'm sure there is some way to attract some young blood.

Don Fry12/11/2019 17:26:27
4557 forum posts
54 photos

post in poor taste.

Edited By Don Fry on 12/11/2019 17:29:08

Martin_K12/11/2019 17:47:21
208 forum posts

Association membership may not be the complete picture. It would be useful to have some information from UK distributors - sales trends for kits, ARTF's, RTF's.

It is easier to get a 'plane in the air than ever, (off the shelf RTF's with electronic aids). If numbers in the hobby are dwindling it cannot all be due to a loss of craft skills.

Peter Christy12/11/2019 18:07:55
1921 forum posts

Er, since membership runs from December 31st to December 31st, how do they know they've lost 2K members this year?

Surely, they won't know until the renewals are in and counted in January? And even then, there's always a fair number of stragglers!

Sounds like "journalistic license" to me!

I did read somewhere that the French FMAA (?) had lost 2K members. Perhaps the journalist misheard - or more likely, didn't care!

Journalists motto: "Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story!".



Steve J12/11/2019 18:13:58
2110 forum posts
61 photos
Posted by Peter Christy on 12/11/2019 18:07:55:

Er, since membership runs from December 31st to December 31st, how do they know they've lost 2K members this year?

The drop is between 2018 and 2019 .

Ray Wood 412/11/2019 18:16:13
256 forum posts
44 photos

Hi All

Technology has moved on , I can sit here with my tablet flying a free aeroplane simulator in the warm. Electric flying has also diluted the need to be in a club these days. We used to band together in groups to make a noise, not so relevant these days, there never were youngster back in the day, I was 20 years old before I could afford £175 for a radio set and have a car to get to the field 😀

Regards Ray

Robin Colbourne12/11/2019 18:48:30
735 forum posts
18 photos

Whilst youngsters are the most obvious source of new blood, they are by no means the only one. Large numbers of people buy models and don't complete them or do complete them, but don't fly them, either through lack of time, lack of knowledge,or fear of breaking it on the first flight. These models then gather dust on top of a wardrobe, or in the attic whilst the pressures of family life take precedence*.

Once the children have lives and transport of their own, spare time re-emerges and there's your target audience.

Try advertising** an event to encouraging people to bring their part-built and unflown models along, receive some constructive advice on completing them, and give them a taster on the club trainer with a buddy box. If you have a suitable venue, arrange for a member or members to give a regular evening class to the newcomers so when spring flying weather arrives, they have the knowledge and a correctly built and set up model to make a 'flying start'.

*This statement is based on two years of running an adult education class for would-be R/C modellers. The vast majority of the 45 who attended were aged 40 to 80, and had already started a kit years before.

**Don't pay money for this; local newspapers and radio stations will do editorials and local news items for free.

Martin Dance 112/11/2019 19:35:07
221 forum posts
33 photos

The demographic drift is nothing new. I joined the SMAE (BMFA) in 1965 aged 16. One of the items I received when I joined was the current copy of the SMAE newsletter. One of the prominent articles was one bemoaning the lack of young people joining the hobby. OK the drift is much more serious now, but it's not new.

eflightray12/11/2019 19:37:40
626 forum posts
132 photos

I will be honest and say this is probably my last year of building and flying. A combination of various, probably minor things, has led to my decision, the CAA/registration is probably one more of the minor nails in the coffin.

After 60+ years of modeling, with a few minor breaks, I realise the hobby was tending to control my spare time.

But the weather is now tending to control my flying more than ever before. I think I flew twice his year. Remember long calm summer evenings ?, trouble is they are just memories. The problems of good weather and no spare time, or spare time and poor weather conditions just add to the decision and frustrations.

I will probably renew my BMFA membership, ( I remember joining the SMAE), but sometime next year, will sell everything, (and I do mean everything), a total break.


john stones 112/11/2019 20:02:29
11779 forum posts
1521 photos

I remember being one of the young pups in the hobby, now one of the old fellas. They used to say "Don't give him a go, he'll pull the wings off) surprise

Never happened, ever, honest.

Martyn K12/11/2019 21:46:22
5121 forum posts
3714 photos

My personal view is that the BMFA should be targetting the 40somethings as a source of membership.

  • Disposable Income
  • Family growing up and less dependent
  • Some spare time
  • Escape from the wife
  • New challenge in life
  • And hopefully, they will bring their kids...

Now, how do you make Flying Model Aircraft sound exciting?


Ray Wood 412/11/2019 21:47:45
256 forum posts
44 photos

Hi Ray,

It's a shame your finding the weather a problem, I too have been flying for only 50 years but find plenty of other avenues to peruse but keep modelling, this year I went slope soaring for the first time in 10 years 😀

Let me have first call if you sell your Sunderland 😁

Regards Ray

Martyn K12/11/2019 21:49:01
5121 forum posts
3714 photos

Editorial stolen from

I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the state of our hobby. I often hear fellow hobbyist say our "hobby is dying" and will soon be gone, well this is just not the case. Our hobby is CHANGING, not dying. With the advent of ready to fly models and ARF's (in all sizes) this has opened up our hobby to a wider audience than in the past. Along with this wider audience comes better technology (just think about how far radio systems have come in the last ten years for example). With almost half of a billion dollars in sales in 2018, R/C is one of the top five highest grossing hobbies (and growing every year) in the world.
So what does this mean to you and me? This mean WE as hobbyist have to change from being so passive and start encouraging all these folks at the parks and school grounds to visit our clubs, join our organization, offer our help as mentors, and encourage them to participate in our events. We need to offer a path for that guy at the park with the foamy to explore our hobby more (such as building) by interacting with others and learning more about our hobby. The social aspect of our hobby is one of the most rewarding and fun parts of it. Why not share that?
Not sure where to start? How about contacting that neighbor with a foamy or that member at your club who just joined and ask them if they have an questions or need any help. Make them feel welcomed to your club and actively try to recruit others at the parks, hobby shop, or fly-ins/fun-flys. There are lots of opportunities to encourage these "casual hobbyist" to participate and enjoy our hobby more, WE just have to work at it.
WE are the ambassadors and caretakers of our hobby and it's success or failure depends on us!

Quite inspirational..

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