A Beginners guide to joining Nuneaton Aeromodellers
Aeromodelling is a very rewarding hobby and a beginner should join a club such as Nuneaton Aeromodellers in order to learn about the wide range of skills involved and to do this in a safe environment. The skills involved include not only flying and building the models themselves but also cover the various associated technologies including radio makes and types, construction materials ranging from wood through plastics and glass to Kevlar and carbon, different covering materials and last but not least, engines from 1 to over 100cc, glow and spark ignition, two-strokes, four-strokes plus associated fuels and fuel systems. By joining a club you can learn to fly properly and on a site suited to flying models. Clubs are located sufficiently far apart so as not to cause radio interference clashes with eachother. This is why flying in your local park is not advisable.
The beginner will almost certainly have some experience of what is required to get "off the ground" from magazines and online websites and, again almost certainly, be somewhat overwhelmed by all the above options available to him. It is important for a beginner to receive expert advice on what is and, just as importantly, what is not, required to get in the air quickly, safely and at a sensible cost. Nuneaton Aeromodellers has a long history in training beginners, from 8 to 80, and here's a short summary of how we do this.
When you apply you'll be invited along for a brief chat, usually just before a Club meeting. The purpose of this is to find out your main areas of interest and your current experience and to allow you to ask any questions you may wish about the club. It'll only take a few minutes and afterwards you can stay for the night's meeting and introduce yourself to the members. You'll get the chance to chat to members and, no doubt, receive advice on getting started. If you are unable to make the meeting, separate arrangements can be made.
The next step is for you to visit our flying site about 20 minutes from Nuneaton where you will be met at the gate by at least one member. The flying site is on a working farm and we have to keep to certain rules laid down by the farm owner so, by meeting you at the gate we can take you step by step through the farm showing you the correct route and describing to you the security procedures. Next, you will be shown the flying area and the no-fly zones. Your club member will also explain to you the club flying site procedures and general safety rules. We have to observe closely the farmer's requirements and we are very safety conscious so we prefer to spend time explaining these matters to you personally at the site rather than just pass you a rule book and tell you to read it.
As part of this site visit, one of the club flying instructors will take you up for a flight using a trainer with a buddy-box control system. The buddy-box system enables the instructor to take control from you immediately should the need arise so the chances of you getting into trouble are virtually zero. You can just relax and enjoy the experience. The instructor can also advise you on options for a first model and radio and describe the ancillary bits and pieces you will need to get started.
We will have an idea of your aspirations and experience, and your flying skills, and you will have met our committee and members, seen the flying site and had possibly your first taste of flying a model. You can then decide if you wish to join the club.
One important point is that we insist all our members are also members of the British Model Flying Association (BMFA) in order to ensure everyone has adequate third-party insurance cover. By visiting our field and being taken up by one of our instructors you are temporarily covered by the BMFA insurance for that day. This, and the use of a club trainer, means you are not committed to spending money on anything unless you are satisfied that you wish to proceed and join.
Should you then wish to join we will then ask you to send your subs and proof of BMFA membership to the Club Treasurer whereupon you will be given the access codes for the site gates and can visit the site on your own.
Depending on your flying skills and experience you will either be allowed to fly unaccompanied at the site or, based on the instructor's assessment, you will receive a period of tutorship on either a club trainer or your own model until you can. It is important to recognise that model aircraft are not ‘toys' and the decision as to when you are cleared to fly on your own is down to the club instructor and must be observed.
Being able to fly on your own is only the start of your new hobby. The BMFA have several levels in their Achievement Scheme ranging from the ‘A' certificate which covers the ability to take off, fly basic manoeuvres safely and land through the ‘B' which requires more complex manoeuvres to be flown at a higher standard with, finally, the more advanced still ‘C' certificate. At all levels you will be required to demonstrate your knowledge of safe flying.
Nuneaton Aeromodellers have both Club Instructors and BMFA Examiners who can advise and assist you through the process of passing the BMFA Achievement Schemes.