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

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Steve J12/11/2019 21:59:33
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Posted by Martyn K on 12/11/2019 21:46:22:

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

+1

john stones 112/11/2019 22:22:36
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We've had a few of the 40 something ish members, join over the last few years, would be interested in how you think they can be targeted.

Ray Wood 412/11/2019 22:32:51
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Hi All,

I come from the generation who could watch 30 different RAF types of aeroplanes at Biggin Hill in 1970 ! How many do we have today 4 ?? It was inspirational to us model builders

Regards Ray

Robin Colbourne13/11/2019 00:02:09
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Posted by Ray Wood 4 on 12/11/2019 22:32:51:

Hi All,

I come from the generation who could watch 30 different RAF types of aeroplanes at Biggin Hill in 1970 ! How many do we have today 4 ?? It was inspirational to us model builders

Regards Ray

Excluding UAVs, gliders, wobblycopters, anything rented and the BBMF, I make it thirteen distinct types right now:

Hawk, Lightning II, Typhoon, C-130J, A400M, C-17, Airseeker, Sentinel, AWACS, King Air, Islander/Defender, Poseidon, BAe 146.

During the war, albeit a period of six years, the RAF operated around 100 different types. It must have been a logistics nightmare!

Ray, my list for 1970 shows 31 types; which one didn't make it to Biggin Hill? wink

Edited By Robin Colbourne on 13/11/2019 00:03:06

Geoff S13/11/2019 00:53:51
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Well I didn't become involved in aeromodelling as an adult until my mid to late 50s and that was only because injury stopped me from sailing and serious long distance cycling. I was also in the process of restoring a 500cc Ariel trials bike which I abandoned as I would be unable to ride it competively. I just needed something that would occupy me at home and offer a bit of fresh air as well.

I seem to have taken sriously something that was started as a bit of a lark

Geoff

cymaz13/11/2019 07:30:05
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I found that most new members and people who have shown interest are in their 40’s- 50’s. Kids growing up, they are at a bit of a loose end. Kids need to be taken to flying sites by their parents, usually left for a few hours with some old men with nothing in common ( in my experience). The younger generation soon loose interest.

I organise the club to attend a large steam fair each year. We are given a rolled strip to fly off, the BMFA simulator trailer is there, static displays..etc. Steam fairs have visitors who are interested in machinery and tinkering, so we try and get them engaged in ic engines, building topics etc. Young ones love to look at the planes but it’s the parents who need to encourage any enthusiasm they might have. That’s a tall order

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Edited By cymaz on 13/11/2019 07:36:50

Edited By cymaz on 13/11/2019 07:37:48

Frank Skilbeck13/11/2019 08:11:53
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As a club we are doing OK our membership has remain fairly buoyant, but the average age is on the increase and all our recent beginners are retirees.

We recently gave a 2 channel glider to a young air cadet who had come to one of our air cadet sessions, I spoke with on the phone to see how he was getting on, he told me he'd done quite a few test glides with it, I suggested he make up a tow line and get one of his mates to tow him up, he replied he would if he could drag them away from their Xboxes.

Frank Skilbeck13/11/2019 08:11:55
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As a club we are doing OK our membership has remain fairly buoyant, but the average age is on the increase and all our recent beginners are retirees.

We recently gave a 2 channel glider to a young air cadet who had come to one of our air cadet sessions, I spoke with on the phone to see how he was getting on, he told me he'd done quite a few test glides with it, I suggested he make up a tow line and get one of his mates to tow him up, he replied he would if he could drag them away from their Xboxes.

Nigel Dell13/11/2019 09:28:39
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Posted by eflightray on 12/11/2019 19:37:40:

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.

Ray.

That’s a shame Ray, I know what you mean about the weather, I have not had much of a chance to fly this year due to my elderly parents and giving them the help they need, least I can do, I must admit to considering giving it all up but have so far resisted.

I have enjoyed your projects.

good luck in what you decide.

Martyn K13/11/2019 09:39:11
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Posted by john stones 1 on 12/11/2019 22:22:36:

We've had a few of the 40 something ish members, join over the last few years, would be interested in how you think they can be targeted.

I have often wondered just how to do this.

Being realistic, they are unlikely to come out to a model flying field unless they have already taken the bait. Therefore, we need to go to them,

This means attending things like Village shows, perhaps put on a demo with some very light aerobatic foamies, have the information to hand that you can give out - importantly, being professional and being prepared.

I am trialling a system in the North West Area where instead of recycling old modelling magazines, they are distributed around waiting areas, doctors surgeries, hospitals, dentists etc with a sticker on the front that says 'Interested? for more information contact...' etc

Ultimately, it depends on people making a commitment and giving up a little of their spare time to help, something that can be very difficult to get.

Martyn

ken anderson.13/11/2019 09:47:32
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our hobby as well as the rest of the world is changing as we speak.....the youngins now aren't bothered about buying some balsa wood and making a model aircraft....if you want them in the hobby they want instant gratification...buy today/fly tomorrow...never mind all the stuff in between.

so what's the solution?...who knows. I think that the hobby will keep going but not in the way that we imagine, I think it will always be middle aged lads with a sprinkling of youngins.on the TV recently there was a programme about model railways-I didn't see many kids on there. The kids all want to be sitting in their caves with the latest electronic gear,not glue and bits of wood,i have 6 grandchildren and they are done for if you take their gear off them...and they all live in their rooms.... coming out for food,and cant wait to get back, one asked me "what time you going?"..when I asked why...he said "so I can go back in my room to play on my PS4"!!!

different times nower days...hopefully it'll change but not back over to what it was....

ken anderson...ne....1...change/PS 4 dept.

David Davis13/11/2019 10:27:37
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Quite so Ken.

When we were young, if you wanted a model aircraft you had to build it. I flew my first r/c model in 1988 at the age of forty. Having already built and flown free flight and control line models between the ages of eleven and fourteen, I knew how to build a model aircraft. I could also operate a two stroke glowplug engine but it was several months between starting the build and flying the model. I crashed it on it's second flight, no buddy box. I repaired it and carried on.

I've never done an analysis on the ages of my club's members but most of us seem to retired, retired beginners at that, flying ARTF trainers. Having said two of these beginners, one a fifty something and still working, have started to build their first models but we're fortunate to live in an area where the population is declining and we've been given the use of an unoccupied flat where we have set up a couple of building boards. My village for example had a population of 1600 in 1911, now it's 550.

As for the future I think that the hobby is doomed. Getting the Play Station Generation out of their bedrooms and into the fresh air will be enough of a challenge in itself.

Cuban813/11/2019 10:43:33
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The comment about the hobby changing but not necessarily suffering terminal decline, is an interesting one. We are in a decline, I don't think there's much evidence to suggest otherwise, but clearly change is part of the process and a different approach to hobbies and pastimes exists in many areas, not just our own. My guess is that in twenty years time our hobby will have contracted to something like half of its present size which is still a fair number of people, but with ramifications for certain aspects that we take for granted now. On the other hand, a smaller hobby might make it easier for those remaining to secure flying sites, fewer hobby UAVs might take the regulatory spotlight away and make aeromodelling less intimidating to get into in the first place. Can we learn anything from what's going on abroad? Is aeromodelling actually flourishing anywhere?

Competition flying, I suspect, will be almost non-existent except for very specialist events supported by a very small circle of experts. Isn't is odd that drone racing has attracted large amounts of sponsorship and publicity in a very short time, yet most other aeromodelling contests have always struggled with proper backing? Aerobatics and the ToC maybe being an exception. Oddly enough, something like funfly might remain attractive because of its relative simplicity, and with fairly inexpensive models that don't seem to have fallen foul of becoming massively technical and subsequently relying on expensive ready made models beyond the ordinary sportsman's pocket. Will the Nats as it stands now still be viable? Anyone's guess on that one.

The attraction of games design and programming might find a home in a competition for fully autonomous models flying aerobatics or combat (think Robot Wars) - sounds outlandish now, but perfectly feasible even with current technology. Sponsorship will be key to stuff like that. I've never understood how the Heavy lift Challenge hasn't found its way into a wider audience, it has all the makings of other very popular but niche TV programmes if suitably hyped up for modern tastes ....why? AFAIA it doesn't get much coverage on-line, TV isn't the only medium these days, just look at some YouTube channels and the huge audiences that seem to grow from nowhere.

Model aviation has so much going for it that I wish I could put my finger on why we're going through problems attracting young people. I look at my own and others' grandchildren and they simply don't get it. Spending hours and hours on a practical project that could easily be destroyed in seconds 'game over' but with no 'reset button' to give you another 'life' is really totally alien to them.

They spend ages working on software to get a toy robot to do something, or a 3D printer to make a useless trinket, and all from the warmth and comfort of a living room or bedroom. All important skills for the future, it's true, given the way that industry is automating and IT is king in every organisation, but what about really practical skills and being part of a common interest group, meeting up to share ideas and engage in a bit of friendly banter? Nothing like taking a bin bag full of bits home for a bit of character building.

I've mentioned in few of my other posts my recent return to motorcycling after a long break. In the years that I've been away the changes are absolutely huge, the industry is buoyant, competitive sport maintains its presence in Moto GP and other formulas, dealerships seem to be doing well and motorbike shows are hugely popular and full to capacity with visitors. Building and customizing is as popular as it ever was and TV coverage is excellent. Old geezers like me have our modern retros and the young ones have the ugly (to my eyes at least) sports bikes that look that they're from a Mad Max film set. All tastes are catered for. I've been to a couple of bike shows this year (doing the NEC in a few weeks time) and I said to my wife if only aeromodelling could distill a few drops of the essence that runs through motorcycling, it would transform it. We've got to be doing something wrong. Not doom mongering, but we need to understand what's going on.

 

 

Edited By Cuban8 on 13/11/2019 10:51:02

Erfolg13/11/2019 11:38:14
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We all recognise that our hobby has changed, as the world around has.

I recognise that interests that seemed to be doomed, as we often say, have revived. Motor cycling in the UK as has been mentioned. In the 70s, very few wanted a motor bike, now there has been a revival, not to the 50s level, or usage. Motor sport has evolved, I remember that the 750 club, had a lot of back yard builders, it has all changed, although motor sport remains very buoyant. Cycling all but died a death from the 50s, until the probably the 90s, first mountain biking was going to save the industry, then the Lotus bike and Chris Boardman, waken a lot of the young up, then came all the Olympic golds, the Tour de France successes, and now it is the youth and middle aged out there. I would not be allowed near the Manchester Velodrome now, I am guessing, now that demand is so high.

Yet, my concerns are the now, particularly for the future of the BMFA. As a hobby we need a BMFA, for many differing reasons. Loosing 2,000 members a year, would be a big hit. It represents 5-10% of the membership, dependent when you choose the time and numbers. I just hope it is a temporary effect from registration and tests.

If the issue is primarily a function of the incoming changes, IMO the challenge is overcoming the issues that the requirements may be presenting.

As to the age profile of new modelers, older people became the primary source in the 70s, with almost reliable and expensive RC equipment. Well beyond what the majority of young people could access. Perhaps surprising is that RTF models are now so cheap that I would have hoped that youngsters would want at least one. Seems not. The comment of the air ages of the 40s-60s is probably the difference.

Yet I keep returning to the issue of the BMFA ensuring it survives. No grand visions of we just need to spend more on this, or that. More about sensible budgets and services that support the grass roots. The question remains how to make this a reality.

cymaz13/11/2019 12:18:26
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Posted by David Davis on 13/11/2019 10:27:37:

Quite so Ken.

When we were young, if you wanted a model aircraft you had to build it. I flew my first r/c model in 1988 at the age of forty. Having already built and flown free flight and control line models between the ages of eleven and fourteen, I knew how to build a model aircraft. I could also operate a two stroke glowplug engine but it was several months between starting the build and flying the model. I crashed it on it's second flight, no buddy box. I repaired it and carried on.

I've never done an analysis on the ages of my club's members but most of us seem to retired, retired beginners at that, flying ARTF trainers. Having said two of these beginners, one a fifty something and still working, have started to build their first models but we're fortunate to live in an area where the population is declining and we've been given the use of an unoccupied

As for the future I think that the hobby is doomed. Getting the Play Station Generation out of their bedrooms and into the fresh air will be enough of a challenge in itself.

True...how many youngsters do you see looking up? They’re all looking at the floor!

MattyB13/11/2019 12:19:50
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Unfortunately the hobby/sport (your choice which you call it wink 2) is walking towards something of a demographic cliff edge. At the worst moment the new legislation around registration has reared it head to prod us in the back to move faster. If electronic conspicuity and/or flagging all flights on an app become a requirement within a few years I do worry it will lead to a mass exodus amongst many long standing model flyers, though I sincerely hope I am wrong.

I am sure the hobby will survive in some form, but it's going to change massively in the next few years. I certainly don't believe traditional building (and perhaps even ARTF assembly) will exist at meaningful scale in 10-15 years; that would mean the suppliers of kits, engines and building materials will struggle unless they evolve to sell other products and services. Also worrying is how difficult it is to get people to sit on the committees of clubs these days; again the new regs don't help, ramping up the admin and making people worried about their personal liability. Add in covering the mower and club supplies rota(!) and the fact many committee members have served for decades and would like to step back, and I can see clubs becoming smaller and potentially significantly more expensive in the coming years.

David Davis13/11/2019 12:43:55
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Despite the doom mongering of my previous post there is one little ray of sunshine encouraging the construction of tradional models here in La Belle France, and that is La Coupe Des Barons, (the Barons' Cup,) a competition for a very basic three channel trainer which looks vaguely like a WW1 monoplane.

Models are built to certain parameters, and the event starts with static judging followed by four flying tests:

  1. "Cassé de baguettes," where you have to knock over 1 metre high balsa wood sticks.
  2. A pylon race.
  3. A spot landing round.
  4. And the dreaded limbo where models are flown under a "goalpost" four metres high and ten metres wide. You'd be surprised at how many models hit the post or the crossbar!

The event can cater for up to 80 entrants but it's always oversubscribed. Pilots fly in a group of up to ten models at a time! The seventy-five who turned up for the 2019 event are pictured here: **LINK**.

Not an ARTF amongst them!

I've often thought that a British club could organise something similar for WOT4s.

 

 

 

Edited By David Davis on 13/11/2019 12:44:23

Edited By David Davis on 13/11/2019 12:46:04

Cuban813/11/2019 12:44:53
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I produced a chart of my club's age demographic last year. 55% were over 60 with half of that group over 70, 30% or so were between 40 and 59 with the remaining few % in their 30s with only a couple in their 20s, no teens at all. Just under 100 members at the moment.

My other club's profile would seem to be very similar except for a couple of extra teenagers.

A ticking time bomb or what? I fear for the numbers next year.

 

 

Edited By Cuban8 on 13/11/2019 12:49:38

Nightflyer13/11/2019 12:56:59
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Some very interesting and wide ranging comments. Realistically, the world and society evolves and changes. There are many other distractions for spare time these days, and some of the fascination in technologies i.e. aerospace lose some appeal. My son is very much a product of the modern era, yet he is interested in model flying and rc especially and is learning to fly because while he ight fly simulators etc he has seen that it is still very different doing the real thing. Numbers decline also, for things like cost of living, family priorities, etc, etc, etc.

One time, amateur radio was seen as popular and challenging (and also led to a number of people doing both radio and model flying, but these days there are far fewer people because communication is a lot easier by other ways and people cannot experiment like they used to, amongst various reasons.

Model flying has evolved and it is probably fair to say there are far fewer builders from scratch/plan or basic kit. Yet at the same time there is now a sizeable number who derive pleasure from ARTF's, and there are perceived to be fewer challenges to grab peoples attention or desire. Yet model flying has evolved a lot over the decades and is likely to continue to evolve.

Steve J13/11/2019 14:31:07
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The big question for me is "Is the total number of people flying SUA dropping?". I suspect that it isn't, it's just that less flyers are joining the BMFA.

It will be interesting to see how many people end up registering with the CAA (both as operators and flyers). The CAA's current estimate is 130k operators based on the number who have registered with the IAA in Ireland.

Posted by Erfolg on 13/11/2019 11:38:14:

Yet I keep returning to the issue of the BMFA ensuring it survives.

IMHO the BMFA need to review both their governance structure and outgoings and try to get their fees down to the same sort of numbers as the LMA and SAA.

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