Model Flying is often perceived as being merely about “big boys toys”, with the emphasis on the toys, rather than the boys!
This is unfortunate because the reality is that a model flying club is a valuable social asset to the community in much the same way as other organisations which promote healthy social interaction and stimulating interests such as the Men’s Sheds Association and other Third Age and Over-50’s Groups. It is somewhat inevitable that radio-control model flying is particularly attractive to men of a certain age, but it is not exclusively a male hobby, nor is it true that all its participants are over retirement age.
Nevertheless it is undeniable that the subject of aviation tends to be of more interest to men than women, and that retirement from work provides the opportunity to indulge personal interests. However retirement also brings with it the sudden loss of social interaction with work colleagues, and this social hiatus is something which many people find very isolating when they retire from work. Model flying is therefore a context or catalyst for something far more important and valuable than just “big boys toys”.
Dumfries Model Flying Club, like all model flying clubs around the UK, provides a facility for social interaction and the building of friendships within a context of a mutual interest in aviation. Model flying is also a very diverse hobby, not only in respect of the types of model aircraft flown, but also in the “backroom” skills and knowledge which participants need to develop. This involves several protracted, varied and absorbing learning curves which stimulate the brain, and act as another important catalyst for mutual support and assistance which helps to build cameraderie and reinforce friendships.
Add to that the fact that radio-control flying itself requires the development and honing of hand-eye co-ordination skills; involves bending, lifting, carrying and walking to stimulate the muscles and general mobility; and takes place outdoors in the fresh air. Admittedly, it is also huge fun, and even that has therapeutic benefits!
Model Flying Clubs are part of an international community, and model flying is recognised as a sport by SportUK and SportScotland. So it really deserves to be fully acknowledged as not only an enjoyable sport-cum-hobby, but also one which offers significant benefits in terms of health and well-being.
The other misconception about model flying is that it is a very expensive hobby, and therefore somewhat exclusive. Of course there are some annual costs related to Club membership and third-party insurance, but these are generally far less than many other comparable hobbies, sports and leisure interests.
There are also a few items of equipment to purchase initially, and of course the model aircraft themselves, but these can be surprisingly inexpensive too. Of course it is possible to spend as much as you like, but it is certainly not necessary nor indeed advisable to buy expensive items until a reasonable level of flying skill is acquired. Our members understand what it’s like to join a club, so we try hard to make all new members feel welcome and become quickly assimilated into the friendly inclusive social environment which we strive to maintain.
For those members who are new to the hobby, free flying tuition is available and is usually carried out using a dual-control radio system. This enables novices to learn with confidence and develop good safety principles whilst minimising the risk of crashing their model in the early stages of the learning process.