Here are some of the questions that are regularly asked of the BMFA:
With our ever shrinking island and increasing lack of public tolerance the pressures on our flying sites are increasing every day. Noise complaints, land development, perceived risks to the public, animals and the environment are all on the increase and all have to be addressed.
To counter the threats, the BMFA employs a professional planning and development officer whose sole task is to protect existing sites and advise on new sites. He has vast experience in countering threats, interpreting bye-laws, advising on planning applications, and negotiating with local authorities and the Home Office. This has had significant importance since model flying became a recognised sport as authorities are now obliged to assist clubs to find sites whenever possible.
The Flying Site Planning Officer's work is constantly expanding and his help has been invaluable to countless clubs in protecting existing sites or obtaining new ones. His advice is free to all affiliated clubs, although the club may be requested to make an agreed contribution should extensive legal work be required.
The instructor and achievement schemes are complementary and are designed to raise safety awareness and improve the standards of all types of Radio Control model aircraft flying in the UK for the benefit of all.
Although both schemes are voluntary, many clubs are using them to ensure that safe standards are maintained within the club. In addition to the BMFA, the majority of independent organisers now insist upon all public display pilots having the relevant competency certificate or LMA or SAA equivalent.
The benefits to the individual flyer are that he or she learns to fly using a proven and structured methodology that will enable development of skills, instil confidence, and give tangible standards in safety and flying for the trainee pilot to aim for.
The BMFA, like many organisations, recognises today's young people are tomorrow's aeromodellers. Many of us experienced the thrill of building and flying our creations in our youth only to give it up because of other commitments such as family or education. However, the seed was sown even if it did germinate much later in life when time and finance permitted.
The Education Programme, which has been running since 1989, has one aim; to give every young person the opportunity to build and fly at least one model aircraft, thereby sowing that seed. To achieve this the BMFA provides a simple range of kits at very low cost which form the backbone of our model aircraft workshops and runs the British Model Aerospace Challenge in partnership with BAE Systems. These are designed to meet young peoples' requirements up to secondary education but are complemented by the University Challenge, a radio controlled aircraft payload competition, which is for undergraduate students.
The Education Programme is constantly under review and is currently seeking to introduce a basic control line trainer which is cheap and effective.
The BMFA News is the Association's newspaper and covers a myriad of activities. It is not a modelling magazine and is not designed to compete with the many excellent magazines on the market. Although it contains many interesting articles on construction and flying, it also contains items of Association business that is of interest to the members, including the events calendar, safety notices, notification of competition rule changes and brief reports on Association business. It is the prime means of communication for the BMFA members on every aspect of Association activities.
The BMFA News is published every 2 months and is managed on a commercial basis. Advertising is arranged by our agents and the advertising profits used to fund and improve future editions, for the benefit of the membership.
Just as the BMFA News is the prime means of communication to members, the Club Bulletins are the prime means of communicating on a regular basis to the Association's affiliated clubs. It also contains safety notices and notices of a general nature but primarily reports to clubs on the detailed proceedings and decisions of meetings. Therefore, clubs are kept abreast of what business the Association's elected officers are undertaking on behalf of the membership. This gives all clubs the opportunity to comment through their area committees should they wish to do so.
Club Bulletins are produced 8 times per year, supplemented by extra safety bulletins if required.
The BMFA employs two experienced and knowledgeable aeromodellers on a full time basis; the General Secretary and the Development Officer. Much of their time is devoted to providing advice on all aspects of model aircraft flying and club organisation. Should they not know the answer immediately, they will either find out or direct you to a person who does. Such advice covers situations from "Why do my glo plugs keep blowing?" through to "Help! The treasurer's just absconded with our club funds".
All clubs who consider affiliation are given the opportunity of receiving a club talk which is free of charge to the club. This gives the BMFA the opportunity to advise on the advantages of affiliation and the club to ask any questions they may have. It is also an opportunity for debate and to dispel many of the myths that abound about the BMFA. Update talks are also available on a free of charge basis to affiliated clubs should they be requested.
The BMFA regards its advice and assistance service as fundamental to its clubs' and members' needs and as such it is always given a high priority. We are here to serve our members and clubs.
To accord with the philosophy of the partnership and to ensure clubs have the requisite insurance cover, all affiliated clubs are required to have 100% BMFA membership. Social members do not have to be included in club membership for the process of affiliation provided they do not fly and do not take an active part in the organisation of the club.
All a club then has to do is complete the necessary paperwork, naming a minimum of 5 club members whose BMFA subscriptions are paid through the affiliating club. There are no additional costs for affiliation and no hidden clauses. Special arrangements can be made to permit clubs to make the transition as easy as possible in the first year of affiliation.
The BMFA does not, nor does it wish to, interfere with club organisation and will give help and advice only when requested to do so. This will normally be by the club committee but very occasionally we are requested to assist by local or national authorities. Should the latter be the case, we are obliged to do so as the BMFA is the National Governing Body but this would only be done so in full consultation with the club.
The BMFA is not empowered or mandated to do anything but offer advice to clubs and members, although this advice is based upon common law and CAA recommendations. Should a club or member transgress in any way, it is the responsibility of the authorities to take action and is not within the BMFA's remit.
The BMFA is a-non profit making company by law, although reasonable reserves are maintained as a matter of sensible precaution. All members' subscriptions are used to support model aircraft flying and nobody makes money out of the BMFA. The majority of work is undertaken by volunteers for which they make no charge. They do, however, receive payment to cover all reasonable and auditable out of pocket expenses. All BMFA budgets are subject to an annual audit.
The volunteers are supported by a small nucleus of full and part-time staff who provide the continuity and administer the members and clubs. These are the people who provide you with the routine help you require and develop and manage the Association in accordance with Council policy.
All BMFA competitions have to be self funding and not a penny of the members' money is spent on them. Control of the competitions is the responsibility of the Technical Committees who set competitors' entrance fees to ensure the books balance. If profits are incurred, the Technical Committees have the option to transfer the surplus to their international team travel fund.
The infrastructure of national competitions is funded from an element of the competitors' fees and the admission charges for the public.
At international level, limited support is given to teams entering World championships and to the team manager only for European championships. Generally this covers competition entry fees, accommodation costs and the formal prize giving banquet. Should the support given be inadequate, it has to be topped up from either the team travel fund or more often, the competitors themselves. It is not unknown for competitors to take a weeks holiday and spend over £1000 each to represent their country at an international level.
The amount spent on supporting international teams is less than 4% of each member's subscription. A good investment considering our teams take more medals than our athletes in international competitions!
Our participation and success in the international forum is essential as not only does it give the BMFA an international voice, it also strengthens our national identity.