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

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Martin Harris13/11/2019 22:47:35
9332 forum posts
249 photos

I don't know what FPVUK's public liability insurance covers but I see that they offer 50% discount on hobby drone accidental damage insurance with FlyIcarus - presumably this isn't contained within their standard offering. Unless this is cover for damaging your own model, I'm sure that this sort of insurance including jets and >40cc IC cover is included in the BMFA insurance along with the club employer's liability and the committee cover mentioned by i12fly.

We've had a stand at local fetes on several occasions but it's noticeable how disinterested youngsters are.  Other than playing with the little gliders we've given away, there's hardly a second glance at the variety of models on display.

Edited By Martin Harris on 13/11/2019 22:57:42

Robin Colbourne13/11/2019 23:02:09
579 forum posts
17 photos

The driving force for BMFA affiliated clubs was to a large extent driven by the loss of sites due to noisy engines. Now that small electric models are in most cases unobtrusive, why would you drive miles to hand launch over a crowded mown strip or piece of tarmac if you don't need it.? In some respects model flying has returned to where it was in the 1930s, 40s & 50s, with the flying of small models in the nearest local park.

Will the BMFA wait until country members are more than 50% of their membership, or else they have all left and bought the FPVUK insurance, before they ask if they are serving them as well as club members? For example, if one country member teaches another, are they insured? BMFA regulations tended to be written around flying on affliated club sites. That was fine when the norm was a .40 powered trainer, but those days have gone.

Chris Berry14/11/2019 07:52:22
255 forum posts
1 photos
Posted by eflightray on 13/11/2019 21:20:18:

Perhaps step back and take the position of a non-modeler.

Why would I want to take up a hobby I rarely or never see anywhere, not on TV, other than maybe on 'You've been framed' occasionally of crashes.

That schools never mention or have inter-school competitions, (Heavy lift ?, what's that ?). That probably many air cadets don't even get involved with.

That needs special places to fly as councils class it as a 'health and safety risk', probably the same for schools, 'not covered by our insurance'.

That needs a car to get to. That is often controlled by weather conditions. That a club wants to charge me quite a lot of money to join, then tells me there are loads of rules restricting what I want to do, and when.

Unless people see models flying, how will they even know it exists as a hobby ?. So where are most clubs ?, out in the countryside down a back road, out of the way.

It makes you wonder if the hobby actually wants more people to get involved.

Just my opinions and thoughts.


You make very good points Ray. I'm not sure how we increase membership such that we become a well known and socially accepted hobby. I suspect it will never happen. Fishing is a hobby I've never done and have no interest in but I know what it is because it features in many walks of life, particularly on many types of TV programmes.

Whenever I tell people I fly model aircraft they look at me blankly as if they have never heard of a model plane and once I show them pictures they realise it's not just chuck gliders in a park, which is the usual assumption.

The only way to spread the love is through drip feeding of mass market popular culture over the course of a few years. It's not an easy challenge and even the CAA seem to be struggling, as other than launch day I've heard nothing about DRES.

In terms of costs, the biggest for most is field rental which instantly sets a minimum subscription price. If more public land was available through social acceptance, like football is for example, then the cost to join a club would be lower and that comes down to increased participation.

Peter Miller14/11/2019 08:49:35
11071 forum posts
1296 photos
10 articles

There is so much talk about youngsters failing getting into the hobby .

WEll even as far back as 1992 when I worked at a shool as a technician the problem was there,

The school ran a huge exhibition of hobbies of all sorts. They got in people who did allsorts of things from pottery to embroidery and everything in between.

I laid in a big display with models and kots etc. I had a video of models at Old Warden running and a big stack of free magazines.

We had about three hundred kids come through. I had two questions and no one took a magazine.

All this was before smart phones even existed

When I look back at when I started in 1954 we had small, cheap kits, Pocket money kits. We could fly anywhere. My local club flew controlline on a recreation ground with a row of big high status houses looking down on us. We never had acomplaint.

Of course there were no ARTFs but we had two magazines. WE could buy plans and in those days even on pocket money we could afford to buy two or three plans at a time just to look at them and decide if we wanted to build them. 2/6 or 3/- each That is 12 1/2p and 15p.

Most club members were teenagers and we cycled to fly with a model on the handlebars of our bikes.

The point was that it was all low key and low cost and no one complained about us.

Now those who do takex an interest see that to gext into the hobby they are going to need radios and kits that cost an arm and a leg.

The trouble is that I can see no way of getting back to those old days.

Paul C.14/11/2019 09:23:15
646 forum posts
159 photos

Spot on Peter different times, I think we had a much more tolerant society then. Too many Mr and Mrs angry today 😩

Tim Ballinger14/11/2019 09:45:17
791 forum posts
287 photos

Perhaps someone could persuade Rod Stewart and other well known folks to take up model flying. Based on current news items that might generate a new following. Then again the following would probably only be from the same age group .🤔

Wilco Wingco14/11/2019 09:51:19
233 forum posts
3 photos

Well said Peter. How many of the current BMFA members remember the SMAE ?. We all started with chuck gliders, then KK rubber power or glider. Then, when we could afford it, a Mills 75 or DC Merlin. We built out own single channel R/C bang bang and flew in local parks. Not now. All must have at least 6 channel radio with a big trainer and a 40 nitro. We still had loads of fun for not much money. yes

Dane Crosby14/11/2019 10:02:46
245 forum posts
23 photos

it is sad that H&S, although commendable, is forever being "improved" at the expense of hands on. I studied Physics, Chemistry and metalwork at A Level. All experiments were carried out by myself with a clip on the ear if I spilt chemicals or blew some fuses. Use of tools was as important as designing and making objects in steel, alloys and other metals. We were expected to set up and use lathes and small furnaces. Now, the poor kids tend to wear goggles, gloves and other kit but just watch the teacher carrying out experiments. constructive subjects seem to revolve around CAD/CAM. all tooling seems to be demonstrated by instructors with little, closely monitored, personal hewing of materials.

As a teenager I though nothing of setting up a workshop, reading and understanding a plan, then constructing a model working with wood, plastics and metals. The lack of hands on experience for youngsters will kill the make-it-yourself side of the hobby. I don't have an answer to this.

My other pastime is building an working on kit cars. At the National kit car show every year I speak to members of he public passing by our stand. It is very common for people younger than about 30 to state that nowadays it is not allowed for non-garage people to work on vehicles. They imagine that with modern electronics it cannot be built or serviced by individuals. Getting the message over that it is OK to build and work on one's car is quite alien to the majority. Again, I have run out of answers to this; deciding that showing by example can be the only way.

Any ideas how we get youngsters to work with tools and have confidence with machinery?

Cliff Bastow14/11/2019 10:10:27
890 forum posts
462 photos

Now I know this is one isolated case and may not be representative of modern youngsters but here goes.

we recently have taken on an engineering apprentice and when he found out about my hobby he expressed an interest in it.

On being told that he needed lessons to take up the hobby really and possibly would not be flying on his own inside six months to a year he quickly lost interest and went back to looking at his phone!

he was also surprised I would pay £150 to £200 pounds for a ARTF model but himself thought nothing to paying over a grand for his phone.

Peter Christy14/11/2019 10:12:04
1820 forum posts
Posted by Wilco Wingco on 14/11/2019 09:51:19:

Well said Peter. How many of the current BMFA members remember the SMAE ?. We all started with chuck gliders, then KK rubber power or glider. Then, when we could afford it, a Mills 75 or DC Merlin. We built out own single channel R/C bang bang and flew in local parks. Not now. All must have at least 6 channel radio with a big trainer and a 40 nitro. We still had loads of fun for not much money. yes

Totally agree! I still get as much enjoyment -maybe more - out of flying a basic, single channel model, as I do a multi-channel aerobatic aeroplane or even a helicopter! My fellow club members think I'm nuts!

But here's a thought - and its something that the magazines may want to take on board. Back then, the mags were as much about the technology as the modelling. There was always a transmitter design, or a new receiver or some other project ongoing. Part of the attraction was that these things were NOT easy to build and get working. They were a challenge.

Alright, technology has moved on, but there are still plenty of projects out there for the computer generation. Look at Phil Green's Arduino encoder projects for modernising old radios, or his single channel emulators. Why don't the mags feature some of these projects? They are interesting and educational to the computer generation, as well as being challenging.

For myself, the first page I turn to when a new mag arrives is one of Shaun Garrity's excellent retro articles. Far more entertaining than reviews of the latest foamie fantastic, which frankly mostly have all the appeal of a month dead mackerel!

<Sigh!> Nostalgia's not what it used to be....! wink



Erfolg14/11/2019 10:48:50
11741 forum posts
1337 photos

My immediate concern remains how to avoid circa 2,000 people a year leaving the hobby.

I actually recognise some of the issues and attitudes raised. Although I am not sure are directly related to the lack of interest of youngsters. Which for me is a related problem, of attracting others to enjoy our hobby.

What has surprised me is that it appears that some modelers have decided to build sub 250g FF type models, in preference to RC. In one case in sufficient numbers that a club is being wound up, most probably.

The other issue of health and safety is far more difficult to pin down, what the issues really are, beyond it is an imbedded culture. Very recently I have participated (with grandchildren) in the making of a "Star Wars" model from recycled materials. A iron age "Scene". Last week a "Storage Container" made from household waste, to include plastic. In all cases I had to do all the cutting, as i was informed that they could not use sharp knifes. They were reluctant to use a hot glue gun. Papier Mache was not an issue. I chatted with my daughter and son-in-law who are both medics, one of which uses scalpels all the time. They were happy for me to teach how to cut safely, away from hands etc. and also the glue gun were not an issue, for them. It is in the schools and general society where the attitudes came from. There is an irony in that one of the projects emerges from a design and build class/subject. Just as PM has indicated. With respect to design, there are no shortages of ideas and dictated/specified requirements. It is the lack of encouragement of hands on working and the acceptance that live has risks, dangers, which need to identified and managed.

IMO, we need to encourage people to want to stay in the hobby. For the hobbies future, both immediate and long term, the loss of BMFA membership ideally halted at best, at worst reduced. Separately yes it is good for the UK hobby to get new members/modelers, from where ever they come from.

With respect to H&S, it is now an industry, where logically the abolition of any risk,protects their business, until nothing can be made in the UK economically.

Peter Miller14/11/2019 11:20:19
11071 forum posts
1296 photos
10 articles

I believe that these days kids in the Craft, Design an technology departments hardly touch tools. At least in my time they were given a project t design and make. The trouble was that they had not been taught about materials or tools.

When I complained about this I was told "They learned that in Middle School" Did they heck!!.

I remember one 13 year old who was told to design a trophy. He designed a good one. A trophy for a scrambles event. He had a very nice aluminium side view of a rider on a motorcycle. The only snag was that the aluminium was 10.. thick and he was trying to cut it out on a power fret saw. It would have taken the whole term.

I took pity on him and cut it out on the band saw.

One of my proudest moments there. WE had a lad who was leaving school at the end of year. He was a total loss. His idea of a "Toy box" for his final project was six pieces of chipboard nailed together.

At the time I was building a small model glow engine while the boss was not looking. This kid spotted that and became interested. I had enough material so I started teaching him how to build one. He was really excited by it and did a great job. He never finished it before he left but he had found something that really interested him.

By this time the head of department had seen what was going on. He was amazed at the transformation of the boy.

I felt that I had done something really useful.

PS I had made a mistake in the sequence of building my engine as pointed out by my guru and friend Tom Crompton. My engine never ran.

Chris Berry14/11/2019 11:51:46
255 forum posts
1 photos

Maybe it's a generational thing?

Maybe back in the 60s, aviation in the UK was thriving. Jet age air travel was new, lots of UK aircraft manufacturers, lots of new aircraft and it was an exciting time for aviation.


These days most people use aircraft like buses, airfields have disappeared and people don't notice planes in the sky unless they think it's a spitfire.

Even many modellers I speak to arent aviation enthusiasts and don't follow aviation, airshows etc but just like flying model planes. 

Edited By Chris Berry on 14/11/2019 11:53:22

Ray Wood 414/11/2019 12:01:51
217 forum posts
44 photos

Hi All,

Living in Kent and working in West Malling, the only aeroplanes we do see are the Spitfires from Biggin & Headcorn !! & A380's

Plenty of people with £3k for a ride !!

Regards Ray

Edited By Ray Wood 4 on 14/11/2019 12:03:09

Wilco Wingco14/11/2019 12:02:15
233 forum posts
3 photos

Like Peter I too was a CDT Technician in a very large comprehensive after I took early retirement. I remember for 'O' Level we had to design, 3 hours in Tec Drawing, then make, 3 hours in the workshop, a solution to a problem set by the exam board. I was amazed at the level of "skill" of the 16 year old's taking GCSE Technology. About the level we were expected to have achieved at aged 12. If they are not taught basic skills of tool usage or the correct material to select or how to draw a plan how can we expect them to build and fly model planes. As we all grew up with this understanding we don't see the problems these kids will encounter. Experience is a wonderful teacher, possibly the best

eflightray14/11/2019 12:35:01
622 forum posts
132 photos
Posted by john stones 1 on 13/11/2019 21:38:45:

I don't have the answer.

Fishing, you need a car, there's rules aplenty, it ain't on your doorstep, club fishings a big thing, it's expensive, trust me, you're out in all weathers, more traveling than modelling, you have to work at it to be successful.

Our hobbies not unique in having drawbacks, so what are our positives ?

Sorry, I can only think of more negatives.

With fishing, often there are canals, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds etc nearby, where a youngster can see what is happening and there will probably be a local fishing club, or even schoolmates who go fishing. I used to cycle to my local angling sites as a teenager, even cycled to my local flying site, (recreation ground/sports/school field). It was probably 6 years of modeling before I got a car.

But where does a youngster see model aircraft ? Do many clubs really want "young kids with their toy electric planes", as that's how I could imagine some club member feel, hopefully I'm wrong.

Perhaps the answer is, stop worrying about the hobbies future, those that want to join in will, it will carry on as before, at least as long as governments and councils tolerate it.

The hobby survived the loss of all those old airfields and runways we used for free flight. The only people likely to kill the hobby and flying field are the end users annoying other people.


David Davis14/11/2019 13:01:04
3744 forum posts
711 photos
Posted by Wilco Wingco on 14/11/2019 12:02:15:

... Experience is a wonderful teacher, possibly the best

Quite so. I lack the scientific understanding of many contributors so I used to skip past the articles on building your own receiver or other electronic items. I did build a receiver, a MacGregor if I recall, and an older aeromodeller gave me an ED transmitter. It was like a biscuit box with a tank aerial on it and it stood on the ground. You operating a hand piece to move the rudder. Mine had a range of about one metre! blush I discovered girls soon after that and never went back building my own radio!

However, it struck me the other night that aeromodelling is a very character building hobby. For example, I built my first r/c model in 1988, a St Leonard's Models "Gemini," at the age of forty having built free flight and control line models as a youth. I crashed it on its second flight. There were buddy boxes about but my transmitter did not have that facility. I repaired it and carried on. I exchanged it later for a Telemaster.

A few years ago I built a replica just to see whether, as an experienced pilot, I could fly the model. I gave it to a clubmate after a few flights.

finished gemini 1.jpg

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