Safety Letter - Competence, Courtesy and Common Sense
First, my new role as the club’s safety coordinator for 2011 is primarily as a safety ‘conscience’ rather than an ‘enforcer’ of field operating rules. It must be the individual responsibility of each member to fly within both the AMA Safety Code and our club’s field operating rules. Unfortunately our printed rules are necessarily concise; they don’t cover the entire philosophy of how our club operates at Marymoor.
We now have more than 300 members, and regardless of experience level, each of us has the potential to do something inadvertent, inconsiderate or downright dangerous with our R/C aircraft. Our club’s large membership means that the field will be crowded on nice days, particularly weekends. We all have a responsibility not only for our own flying but also to generally observe what goes on at Marymoor, a public park which we share with other users.
What is unique about our sport (compared to full-scale flying) is that our planes are constantly turning, climbing and diving in a relatively small air space, close to the runway and flying stations. Fun, incident-free R/C flying requires adherence to the ‘three C's’ (my terms) key to our sport: Competence, Courtesy and Common sense.
Competence, or R/C flying proficiency,is something that must be achieved by every flying member, particularly new members. It applies to guest flyers as well. An R/C pilot must be able to safely takeoff, land, and keep his model in the designated flying area, conforming with basic pit area and flight line operating procedures. If you’re rusty, particularly after a winter layoff, keep it high and simple for awhile—or get on a buddy box with someone who is proficient.
Courtesy is certainly important when four or five pilot stations are filled and when the "members only" area is crowded. Some of our posted operating rules and all of the "etiquette" items are in this category, along with many unwritten customs (calling takeoffs, landings, on-the-field, etc.) Some of these enhance safety and all promote confidence and trust between members. All club members are encouraged to remind others when breaches of courtesy, especially unsafe ones, are observed...at any time of day.
Common sense, or rather lack of, is why most rules exist in organizations involved with potentially hazardous operations or objects. Our R/C aircraft are potential flying hazards weighing between 1 and 30+ pounds. Proper construction, electronics/servo installation, and balance/trim set-up are mandatory for the model to be mechanically safe, even before we consider pilot proficiency. There are many experienced club members to consult if you’re unsure of model assembly/check-out issues. Common sense is even more critical on the ol’ transmitter. Simply put, don’t attempt a maneuver (this includes altitude) beyond your capability or which violates field rules.
I welcome inputs from any club member regarding safety issues or observations. I can be reached at 425-825-5791 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.