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AMA Clubs and EAA Chapters Team Up to Build and Fly RC Airplanes With Area Kids
By John Egan, EAA Sr. Manager, Chapters
October 2021 – Building and flying airplanes, sharing the passion for aviation, and having lifelong friendships with like-minded people who enjoy the same hobby as our own are all characteristics of both EAA chapter members and Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) club members. After all, building and flying aircraft of any size requires similar interest, skill sets, and passion. Let us all enjoy this together.
AMA clubs and EAA chapters have a joint program where cross-pollination between members makes it easy to offer youth an opportunity to build and fly RC airplanes locally. EAA’s Build and Fly program is an initiative for EAA chapters in the U.S. and Canada to participate in building and flying an RC airplane with assistance from local AMA clubs.
Here is how it works.
EAA and AMA teamed up with SIG Manufacturing and Horizon Hobby, Inc. to produce and provide an RC model airplane kit offered to local EAA chapters at a very affordable price. The kit, transmitter, all building supplies, and more are bundled together and offered to EAA chapters for purchase to provide a hands-on building experience to kids. This is more than a kit — essentially this is a full program in a box designed to teach kids to put mind to hand, learn about aviation, teamwork, and ultimately fly an airplane they created. Having experienced RC builders to provide RC expertise may not already be available in a local EAA chapter, however most EAA chapters don’t have to look far to find an active AMA club near them with experienced builders wanting to share their knowledge with kids.
Upon an EAA chapter purchasing the program in a box through EAA, the EAA chapter and local AMA club come together with kids to build the RC aircraft at a local chapter. The RC build process is a multiple-day work session, where kids assemble a traditional balsa wood RC airplane kit using chapter and club mentors to guide them. Participating chapters and AMA clubs may elect to gather one time per week for a number of weeks with kids to build an electric-powered version of the popular SIG LT-40 airplane. Having multiple building workstations, including the fuselage, tail section, and wing for example, will allow a number of kids to participate in the build process at a single time. The EAA Build and Fly program package also includes a version of RealFlight RC Flight Simulator for kids to learn how to fly RC using a computer while participating in the hands-on RC build program right in the chapter hangar or build location. Also included in the package is a Horizon Hobby Vapor indoor RC model ready to fly. Here, kids can experience hangar flying at its best by flying the low-and-slow indoor RC airplane right inside the hangar during the build sessions.
When finished, the kids can fly the RC airplane at the local AMA flying field where the RC expertise abounds with AMA member mentors. By having two organizations (EAA and AMA) participate in the Build and Fly program, both organizations benefit by adding new members from each other’s organizations as well as introducing kids to scale modeling and aviation, benefiting the kids, the families, and both organizations.
The final component to make this program feasible is finding kids interested in aviation. For 29 years, more than 2.2 million kids have participated at local EAA chapters by receiving a free first flight in a full-scale airplane. These Young Eagles kids are perfect candidates to engage in the world of RC building and flying. Too often, we were asked by EAA chapters, how to get kids back to the airport and continue their interest in aviation after a Young Eagles flight? Participating in an RC build and fly program is a perfect answer to the popular question. It used to be that we never said the word “RC airplane” at an EAA chapter meeting, but not only are we now saying the words, we are engaging in model airplane building with AMA through this EAA-designed program.
The Build and Fly program is a great way to get aviation-interested kids involved in modeling, with the opportunity to actually learn to fly RC airplanes with AMA mentors at the local flying field. Once connected, both the EAA and AMA clubs can offer additional youth programming to continue to bring kids back to the airport and out to the flying field.