Over the Easter weekend last I visited middle wallop for the SAM 1066 free flight event , arriving to find at least 80+ cars lined up against the runway . There were numerous classes being flown and the atmosphere was very welcoming. During my stay I watched glider, E30 electric models, vintage wakefield rubber models, chuck gliders , catapult gliders , fun flying , rapier jetex models and saw numerous models awaiting rediness for flight . However it was the following that struck me most –
1) There was a conspicuous lack of expensive radio equipment and or RTF models .The cost of the models was considerably less that than seen at most RC model meets .
2) You could buy all the necessary items to be able to build a model at this event – wood ,glue – tissue ,wire , kits , plan , ect .
3) I did not witness a single crash during my stay – it was relatively windy but all models managed to complete a take off and flew as intended.
4) The technology went from the humble solid balsa chuck glider to the carbon wing and structures now used in E30 – with mylar covering plus electronic timer systems.
5) I had several discussions on engines and equipment for nostalgia power class , advice and experience was offered by several individuals – the flyers were very free with advice and tips.
6) I did meet many old friends that I had last seen some 10-15 years ago – they were still flying , still enthusiastic and still enjoying the hobby.
If I now move forward to the public face of our sport all to often it is the glamorous RC model that the newcomer often sees, and this is the picture that attracts most newcomers – with high cost outlay and probably least chance of success without proper guidance and help. I would guess that many interested parties do not proceed beyond the initial interest once they find out the true cost of starting in RC flying, and then they start looking for alternative hobby’s to pursue. Very few consider free flight and or the many alternative options available within our hobby that can be equally appealing but considerably lower in cost.
So if you are a newcomer and or interested in model flying then please consider all branches of aeromodelling before making your choice. Consider a visit to the many local events that are on offer on this website so that you can see first hand the many types of models that are available. Talk with the pilots and get a first hand opinion of what’s available and where you can get the help necessary to succeed . Part of the reason for organising these events is to reach out to the public and advertise whats on offer – an opportunity to bridge the gap between ourselves and those who would like to become involved – . My visit to Middle Wallop cost £6 entry for the day – hardly expensive for a day out. The indoor events on offer are many and varied and again many of these have kits and models that can be brought at the event often ready to fly for just a few pound cost.
Radio control events such as Blackbush model Show will demonstrate the top end of our hobby as well as providing numerous trade stands to show what’s available – just take advise before spending money.
We have several radio gliding events and helicopter events in the southern area – specialist groups will always develop there own interest but they will also welcome newcomers and give advice freely.
Recent interest in drones and quadcopters has seen Waltham Chase Aeromodellers now including events and advice for this branch of our sport – a very active group has developed in this club.
Whatever the interest we are lucky in the southern area to have events where advice and encouragement can be sought to guide you though the initial steps, and it is our aim to help you succeed.
But do not forget that it is not necessary to buy radio control equipment to get enjoyment from our hobby. There is so much satisfaction and education that one can derive from building a free flight model – and all these skills will only improve your success if you wish to fly radio control models at a later stage.
Lastly try to visit as many events as you can to see the various range of models that are included within our hobby – you may find new types of models that you were not aware off and are more to your liking – there are models to suit all sizes of pockets and each will have enthusiast that are ready to help you succeed. But do try to include a trip to an event at Middle Wallop – this is the centre of excellence for several major free flight events in the UK and is a glorious advert for all things aeromodelling in the UK – a chance not to be missed ——- have fun and remember we are here to help you.