I just noticed the Squirrel was mentioned in an old MAAC magazine. It was in April 2008.
Our great hobby teeters on the edge of disinterest by youth that has, for the most part grown complacent about anything more challenging than a computer mouse or game controller. However, the good fight is not lost and the proof is in a demonstration I gave at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton. The occasion was a fantastic overnight youth program called, “Night Ops” for Beavers, Cubs and Scouts. At this event, we had about 60 youth and 35 leaders watch awestruck as my troop flew six flying Squirrels amongst the Spitfires, Mitchells and Starfighters for nice 45-60 second flights. Not bad for a little plane that a beginner can build in under an hour!
The truth is that what is holding young people back from model aviation is more about an easy entry into the hobby than it is about computers and video games. At the museum, we gave away three planes to some attentive youth, handed out some building instructions and built three more Squirrels by flashlight with some excited leaders, after the kids went to bed.
It can be done! It does not take a lot of money or effort, just some simple planning and youthful enthusiasm on the part of the mentor; and that mentor should be you!
Here is the sales pitch. MAAC needs you, your club needs you and this hobby needs you! We need you to help plant the seeds of aeromodeling into the youth of today. The best part is that doing so will not only help the hobby; it will put some zest into the soul of many modelers who have forgotten the joy that came from building and flying their first model. It does not matter if the project is an ARF or traditional balsa kit; the experience will thrill you while adding some youthful spirit into a hobby that sometimes we take much seriously.
There are many easy ways to get started as a mentor:
· Introduce your son/daughter, grandchild or neighbour to a simple project
· Contact your local school or youth group to offer your expertise in building some simple models
· Forward your name and contact information to the Youth/Beginner Committee for inclusion in a new database of MAAC members willing to be mentors to youth groups in their area.
All these methods are very effective. However, I would like to make a special plea to every MAAC member and club to consider adding their names to a database of people willing to be mentors in a brand new MAAC initiative. Joining the new database will allow MAAC to connect you with local youth groups looking for someone to help them with a youth aviation program.
If you are looking for a traditional balsa model as a first model, I highly recommend a little flying rodent called the Squirrel, designed by Darcy Whyte specifically for youth groups. The model is inexpensive and simple enough that it can be built in less than one hour from a set of instructions that can be downloaded from www.Rubber-Power.com. While you are there, check out the videos of this durable little model in action.
The WRAMPAGER from the Westchester Radio AeroModelers is another excellent model designed specifically for youth programs. This model is a little more difficult than the Squirrel, so it works well as a second model. The plans can be downloaded from www.wram.org/ wrampager.html.
Go ahead and get involved with a local youth program, plant the seeds of the hobby’s future and become a local hero to the next generation of modelers.