Sonoran Desert Flyers, an all-electric flying club in Tucson, Arizona, hit on a great idea to help people who received RC aircraft for Christmas learn to fly. Two weeks after Christmas, the club holds a “Buy, Build and Fly” event where people can bring their aircraft and receive help building, ground school instruction, and flight training.
In its second year, the event helped 300 people and 54 took flight lessons. Eight people became AMA members with five joined the club. Those without an aircraft were able fly a trainer with buddy-box help. According to Bob Schumann, club vice president and AMA Leader Member, more people are expected to become AMA and club members when they come back to start their lessons.
Five area hobby shops began promoting the event to everyone who purchased RC aircraft during the Christmas shopping season. The Oro Valley Parks, Recreation, Library and Cultural Resources Department promoted it in its newsletter. Pima Federal Credit Union helped by being a sponsor. Horizon Hobby donated a Blade MCX-2 for a door prize. Admission was free, but people were asked to donate a canned good. The Interfaith Community Services was presented $73 and 230 pounds of food.
Schumann said, “I know the event helped our relationship with town. Town Managers, Lynanne Dellerman and Greg Caton, and Town Councilman, Joe Hornat, visited the event and stayed a long time watching everyone have fun.”
Following the event, club member, Phil June received an email from a gentleman who attended with his wife. Here is an excerpt from the email.
“Here it is seven days later. I now have a Phoenix flight simulator with a Dx5e transmitter that I’ve run most of today. Prior to last week’s event, we had never seen an electric aircraft. The RC aircraft we had seen were the control line and gas planes flying at Columbus Park and at the Tucson Aerobatic Shootout last fall. I don’t know when or if I will migrate from the simulator to real aircraft, but it is clear that if I do, I will need guidance from experienced fliers in aircraft selection, safety, and best practices. Sonoran Desert Flyers is the first place where I will look. Just wanted your members to know that their generosity and infectious enjoyment of the hobby was well received.”
The Sonoran Desert Flyers are going to prepare a booklet on how to run this event to help other clubs. Contact Robert Schumann: firstname.lastname@example.org.