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A National Aeromodelling Centre

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New Poll & Discussion!

Would you like to see a national aeromodelling centre? - 15/8/11

Q: Would you be in favour of or like to see a National Aeromodelling Centre?

Yes  
61%

 
 

No  
39%

 
 

(363 votes)


Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator13/08/2011 23:10:29
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On and off for the last year or two I have been hearing rumours about a proposal to set up some kind of national aeromodelling centre.
 
As far as I can make out the fullest version of this proposal would have:
 
1. a museum dedicated to the history and development of aeromodelling particularly the national history.
 
2. a new HQ building for the BMFA. With admin, meeting and training facilities.
 
3. a "national flying site" attached to the site.
 
Some people seem to just be pushing the museum aspect, others just the national flying site aspect, still others promote the whole package.
 
According to an editorial in a recent edition of one of the RC mags (not RCM&E) concrete steps to at least conduct a feasibility study of this idea have been taken by BMFA.
 
What does everyone think? Do you want a national centre? Would you use it?
 
Perhaps such a centre would it be good for the hobby - raising our national profile. Maybe it would even generate income as a museum and meeting facility that could be hired out. Possibility it would give us some "roots". It could provide valuable training facilities for the national squads leading to an enhencement in the UK's standing in international aeromodelling circles?
 
But on the other hand, maybe it would be financial millstone around the neck of the association. Perhaps it would be an enormous "white elephant". Possibily it would be something the rank and file pay for, but never get to use - just for the internationally competative elite?
 
Where do you stand? After all, if it did go ahead and you are a BMFA member presumably you'd be paying for it - at least in part.
 
BEB

Edited By Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator on 14/08/2011 00:10:37

PatMc13/08/2011 23:19:44
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Good idea - but only if it's sited within 30 miles of my home.
Biggles' Elder Brother - Moderator13/08/2011 23:26:15
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Posted by PatMc on 13/08/2011 23:19:44:
Good idea - but only if it's sited within 30 miles of my home.
 
 
Sort of inverse NIMBY!
 
Just found this comment on the BMFA website - its from the descriptive blurb relating to Robin Jones Mid West Area delegate on BMFA Council:
 
" He is a firm supporter of Kath Watson’s proposal to build and develop a “Centre of Excellence” for aircraft modelling incorporating a National Flying Site and Society Headquarters."
 
Centre of Excellence? Yet another description to add to the growing list of role for this proposed centre?
 
BEB
Martin Harris13/08/2011 23:31:56
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1. a museum dedicated to the history and development of aeromodelling particularly the national history.
 
It would need to be self supporting or heavily subsidised by the lottery or other source to make much sense. Perhaps a joint venture with an established museum might be a reasonable idea?
 
2. a new HQ building for the BMFA. With admin, meeting and training facilities.
 
I do know that the grand sounding Chacksfield House is a little less imposing that it might sound - basically a converted corner shop - if expansion can be properly justified then possibly but due consideration would need to be given to members living too far away to make practical use of the additional facilities.
 
3. a "national flying site" attached to the site.
 
Sounds wonderful until you start thinking about who would use it, maintain it and how to justify it to members living many hours drive from it. Possibly a practical prospect if a local club be prepared to rent it at a commercial rate with an allowance for loss of use for Nationals, training use etc?

Edited By Martin Harris on 13/08/2011 23:38:13

andy watson14/08/2011 00:14:14
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I think this is a great idea, but if anything should only be the start.
 
The museum and HQ should be relatively low key- there is no need for a huge (and therefore expensive) monument to the hobby, but the national flying site is an excellent idea.
 
One thing we can be certain of is that the land we need for our hobby is only going to get harder to acquire in the future. By buying sites clubs can secure their existence for ever, rather than relying on the goodwill/financial goodwill of their landlords. For example our club rents a field from a local farmer. We seem to pay a lot for the priviledge. Although it is a nice site with 364 day flying, we are restricted in the amount of parking we have. If we owned our own site then we would have more freedom to improve our own facilities. The other issue we have is what do we do if the farmer decides not to continue this arrangement? Maybe some horsey types fancy a showjumping area? He sells the land to developers? etc etc etc. Unfortunately buying the site is beyond our means, or would be very difficult. However a national organisation could manage this more easily.
 
A £1 levy on BMFA subs would raise about £35k per year (I think). This could easily be used to repay a loan to buy a site and repay the loan fairly quickly- 5 years perhaps? This may be possible to supplement with a lottery grant(s) or similar. Presumeably somewhere in the midlands would be equally unfair to everyone- if you know what I mean! However once the BMFA has equity on this land it could then use that- along with further income from the levy- to establish a series of regional sites. I would see this working as affiliated clubs applying to the BMFA to buy their sites on their behalf. The clubs would have to show long term membership and high numbers, along with a suitable, affordable, site to purchase. The club would commit to maintain the site and pay a rental to the BMFA. Over a period of time the BMFA would acquire more and more sites that could not be taken away from the hobby.
 
This would be a bold long term plan, but imagine if this process had started in the 60s? The BMFA would now be a substantial landowner and most people would have access to a BMFA run site. In addition the rental income from these sites would be staying within the hobby and could be used to finance the BMFA itself, or to continue to be plowed into buying further sites.
Gary Binnie14/08/2011 00:18:37
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There was a strong rumour some years ago that the British Gliding Association (who also have their HQ in Leicester) were going to do a similar move to a 'National Centre'.
 
The site most mentioned was Husbands Bosworth nr Market Harborough, most of the BGA instructor coaching courses were being held there using the existing club facilities.
 
Seemed to make perfect sense to me but for some reason it never happened. I can ask the CEO about it. I am guessing that it got complicated, they would have needed new build offices (planning permission?), the staff to relocate or commute and rental fees to be agreed.
 
The Light Aircraft Association (formerly the PFA) have their HQ at Turweston airfield next to me but they don't seem to hold any flying meetings there, which is slightly strange.
 
It's a great idea in theory, I don't mind time behind the wheel but fuel is a silly price now and that would put me off.
 
There was a time when Old Warden was the 'centre of excellence'!! I heard that model flying has been stopped there now, not sure if that is true but they have built a new hangar for private owners who would understandably want to fly when they like.
 
GB
Martin Harris14/08/2011 01:12:25
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Interesting idea Andy and worthy of consideration but maybe more practical for the BMFA to assist clubs in purchasing land with repayable grants for deposits secured on the sites and legal/planning assistance perhaps but even this opens all sorts of opportunity for strife - e.g. why did ABC club get a grant but the BMFA has run out of funding for XYZ club's application 10 miles away or simply turned them down?
 
Also, would non-affiliated members be expected to pay the levy - or members of clubs already owning sites? Yes, it would be for the greater good of the hobby but I suspect that it could cause major ructions between those who saw some benefits and others objecting to the use of their contributions for what they might see as an unuseable asset for themselves and even lead to breakaway groups being formed weakening the BMFA's position as the "national representative body".
 
Would the BMFA have the expertise and manpower to administer multiple sites spread around the country - of course people could be hired to do the job but the costs would surely snowball once professional land management was undertaken.
 
What happens in the event that internal club factions cause the break up of a club using BMFA land? Who would mediate?
 
I'm all for strengthening the position of the hobby and if a workable solution could be formulated then I'd support it but I rather doubt that it would happen - although I'd be delighted to be wrong on this!

Edited By Martin Harris on 14/08/2011 01:31:39

avtur14/08/2011 01:33:13
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In an ideal world, with a population in excess of 60m people in the UK one would like to think that the 'aero modelling' hobby could support a national centre for excellence, which is what I believe BEB is suggesting in a round about way, and I would fully support.
 
The centre would comprise a home for the BMFA (?), meeting facilities, retail facilities, workshop facilities and of course world class flying facilities; I hope the museum aspect could be covered but remember this is going to be expensive and has to be self funding. Cutting straight to the chase none of this would be cheap but I'm sure that it could work with investment and professional guidance such a project would need; the business case would have to stand close scrutiny.
 
Previously I have worked an lived in the USA, somehow they manage to think big and make it work, I'm not really sure I have seen anything in the UK to replicate what they do over there.
 
The current economic climate is hardly the best starting point for anyone considering a new business venture, but what would it take for someone to take this idea and run with it?
 
The retail influence is a factor you cannot get away from. A purpose built site delivering the right facilities would have to have a retailing environment included (providing both a point of interest and a profit centre). But how do you deal with that?
 
The world wide interweb is great, but it means that many modellers are now buying direct from suppliers in the far east, which is quite understandable given the price advantage. However that also represents a loss of business to the UK retail sector, so how on earth can this be balanced out so that money spent by UK modellers goes into the pockets of UK businesses?
 
So ... what are the features you would want to see at this 'national model flying centre' and more importantly would YOU be prepared to make any sort of investment to help such a project work?
 
This has to be a self funding enterprise ... it has to stand up to commercial scrutiny. There are many around who will support their own LMS which is great, but I think the success of a scheme like this would rely on on some income from the retail sector, so how do you make that work?
 
Or .... is it a complete none starter?
i12fly14/08/2011 01:42:52
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BMFA members being pressured into a levy (which is/was the proposal so that reactions could be assessed) doesn't seem right as such a small percentage of members would actually benefit. There is no proposal for BMFA buying other sites across the UK. Sorry but think this a step too far unless very heavily subsidised by a grant from somewhere. Its a grand idea but smacks of ambition out weighing ability, particularly if it falls on the members to finance and maintain it.
avtur14/08/2011 02:00:39
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Posted by i12fly on 14/08/2011 01:42:52:
BMFA members being pressured into a levy (which is/was the proposal so that reactions could be assessed) doesn't seem right as such a small percentage of members would actually benefit. There is no proposal for BMFA buying other sites across the UK. Sorry but think this a step too far unless very heavily subsidised by a grant from somewhere. Its a grand idea but smacks of ambition out weighing ability, particularly if it falls on the members to finance and maintain it.
 
You are quite right which is why this idea has to be commercially viable as a stand alone project, as I suggested it might 'house' the BMFA, but other than renting them an office this whole project has to be sustainable on its own, to ensure that BMFA members do not appear to be subsidising any a particular group.
kc14/08/2011 14:35:22
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A national centre is doomed because a noise complaint will prevent it's use eventually and the money will have been wasted.
Also the BMFA is sure to put it near Leicester where all the BMFA officials reside so it will be of no use to the rest of the country.
Whatever happened to Goosedale?
 
Old Warden still runs model events and I think the next one is 10th Sept ( includes Vic Smeed models day ) and 11th Sept.

Edited By kc on 14/08/2011 14:36:20

Eric Bray14/08/2011 19:08:15
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This is a great idea in theory, but a non-starter in practice. Imagine setting out on a two-hour drive (at the present fuel cost) to the central (?) site, just to find that there is a two hour queue for a four minute slot, then go to the back of the queue for another flight, later, as everyone has chosen to go there on the one sunny day of the year!
David Ashby - Moderator14/08/2011 19:33:23
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We thought it would be good to start a poll on the subject so pop up to the top of the page to vote.
 
 
 
David Gilder14/08/2011 20:01:43
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And after 11 votes:
 
Its 9 For, and 2 Against !!
 
Wonder what the overall outcome will be.. Intersting one this!!
 
Dave
Devon Flyer14/08/2011 20:55:30
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Sounds like someone in the BMFA has delusions of grandeur and wants to start empire building.
Make looking after all of the membership, not just an elite few, the priority.
Lindsay Todd14/08/2011 21:15:04
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I just can't see how this could possibly work. The cost, administration and management would be a nightmare and almost doomed from the outset. We often seem to struggle with the policies and structure within the BMFA as an organisation never mind dropping this one on top as well. Investment into regional centres for training and sport development would appear to me to offer a more tangable and use money and time by utilising existing clubs and sites and promoting our activities. Many individual clubs already undertake these strategies and are more worthy of investment of time and money than a national site that in practice would offer little to all but local members. Just my opinion.
Linds
 
DCW14/08/2011 21:26:56
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What an excellent idea, but…
 
It would need to be independent of any modelling organisation, e.g. BMFA, LMA etc.
Especially the BMFA! It would need to be run and administered by mainly volunteers
and not just providing 'jobs for the boys' at our expense. Funding, as it has already been said, could come from the National Lottery. Better still from model businesses and model magazines who, in return could have advertising and possibly a small presence on the site.
 
DW

 
andy watson14/08/2011 21:38:01
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Interesting that the negative views seem to be:
 
1) It would be difficult.
2) I'm not paying a levy for it!
3) It would only benefit those nearby.
 
1) Of course it would be difficult- but the thing that makes us achieve great things is we can tackle difficult things. This is an objection that leads to mediocrity. Since (as far as I know) no one that has objected on it being difficult would be actually involved in organising it, then so what? Leave those with the determination to make it work to get on with it. Isn't there one of those trite workplace motivational phrases that says something like "the person who says it can't be done is often interupted by the person doing it"?
 
2) I suggested a levy of a quid. A year. You could visit once every 10 years and get value from it. I'm sorry, but anyone that objects to a quid a year as being too expensive really leaves me speechless. Having said that- is it really a levy? From memory the BMFA fees are about £30, of which the insurance is about £8. I am happy to have these figures corrected, but the fact is we pay the difference towards running, administering and promoting the hobby- this would simply be 1 aspect of that. I have never been to the Nats, or engaged in any BMFA competition (there are lots)- should I demand a refund?
 
3) It would only benefit those near it. Well that's sort of true. Erics scenario is obviously ridiculous, but a regular (monthly/bimonthly) fly in type activity might be worth travelling for. The Nats would obviously be based there. However, if you read my proposal it would establish a network of regional sites that could be constantly increased with the rental income from the previously bought properties. If this had been started years ago the initial site wouldn't be costing the BMFA anything- it would be making money, and that money can be plowed back into promoting the hobby.
 
I know I hope to leave my son a legacy that will help make his life, and his childrens lives easier. Perhaps this is our opportunity to grasp an opportunity to help the lives of those modellers in the future, and build a solid infrastructure to this hobby and ensure model fliers will always have somewhere to fly.
 
Or maybe it can all be done on VR headsets,
Andy Symons14/08/2011 21:59:02
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Posted by kc on 14/08/2011 14:35:22:
A national centre is doomed because a noise complaint will prevent it's use eventually and the money will have been wasted.
Also the BMFA is sure to put it near Leicester where all the BMFA officials reside so it will be of no use to the rest of the country.
Whatever happened to Goosedale?
 
Old Warden still runs model events and I think the next one is 10th Sept ( includes Vic Smeed models day ) and 11th Sept.

Edited By kc on 14/08/2011 14:36:20

The BMFA officials are dotted all over the country. However it would make sense to put it somewhere in the Midlands anyway.

Myron Beaumont14/08/2011 21:59:55
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Havn't read the whole thread BUT is a 38 acre site big enough with loads of out buildings /workshops /sloping facilities /fields /no neighbours /parking and campsite etc etc . Yorkshire mind you !

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