In The Air
So just how big is the RC soaring community?
Quite often, I’m asked “so exactly how many people are into that RC soaring thing?” In response, I’m forced to fake a coughing fit, mumble something unintelligible, do a spit take or perhaps just pretend I don’t quite understand the question. In other words, just about anything other than provide a straight answer.
That’s because I don’t know.
And when I say I don’t know, I mean I really don’t know. I’m not sure anybody does. I can make some educated guesses, but that’s about it. For a ton of reasons beyond the scope of this column, that’s not a happy state of affairs. There are, however, some tantalising clues — here are just a a few that provide some interesting if not complete insight:
- New RC Soaring Digest Analytics — As noted previously, RCSD collects GDPR-compliant analytics which help to understand the audience so that the team can continually improve the product we deliver to you, the reader. We analyse that data in a variety of ways but the one number which seems relevant here is that we’ve had nearly 100,000 visitors since RCSD relaunched. However, because we respect our readers privacy, we can’t actually tell if that’s one reader visiting 100,000 times, or 100,000 readers visiting once. But the actual number of readers would seem to be somewhere between those two extremes, of course.
- John Woodfield RC Gliders —John’s superbly entertaining and beautifully produced YouTube channel (see Resources) currently reports 40,900 subscribers and grows steadily. His frequently released videos — where does he find the time! — typically have view numbers in the 5,000 to 10,000 range. Quite a few rack up tens of thousands of views, some hundreds of thousands and at least one from a year ago, a whopping 1.5 million. But like RCSD’s analytics, ‘views’ may not mean as much as you think. A human watched at least 30 seconds and, yes, it could be one human viewed 30 seconds 1.5 million times.
- RC Glider Universe — For those of you who haven’t found it yet (it’s also linked below) this is one of the premier groups catering to the RC soaring community. It can be found on the social platform everybody loves to hate, Facebook. They are currently reporting 14,200 members. But what’s less clear is what percentage of these members are active. More on that in a moment.
There are some additional factors which have to be considered. The metrics above all assume a wired up community — that is, connected to the internet and accessing one of these services amongst others. If there is some vast number of RC glider guiders out there who never use one of these services then they’re going uncounted. In this day and age, you wouldn’t think that’s all that many but it’s definitely a ‘known unknown’.
All of these metrics have one additional, really significant flaw — they don’t distinguish between ‘interested’ and ‘involved’. To better understand what that means, think about the example of eggs and bacon. The chicken was interested but the pig was, well, involved.
What percentage of these communities are real living, breathing human beings with a glider project on the go? Without even getting into the whole bot and fake account hornets’ nest (which is also a problem) you might want to ask yourself about the electronic communities to which you belong: how many living, breathing, actually-building-and-flying-something seem to be on the platform? I’ll wager it’s a tiny, tiny fraction of the total number of members of that community.
So what do you think? How many people do you believe are actively pursuing the hobby around the world? Do you have any hard data about the size of the RC soaring community that you would be willing to share with our readers? If so, by all means, get in touch — we’d love to see it and share it!
Flying Field Updates from Alberta and South Carolina
The subtitle for last month’s column was Flying fields are as fragile as spring blossoms (see below). In it I told the stories of two clubs which had been summarily tossed off their flying fields. One of them was the Leduc Alberta Radio Control Society (LARCS) which had suffered the loss of their flying field “effective midnight…April 27, 2022. There is to be no flying at the site effective immediately.” As a happy postscript to that story, the Zone ‘A’ Director Roger Ganley recently sent out the following:
LARCS (Leduc) found a replacement flying site and thanks to the ‘Find A Field’ committee and their crew it should be ready for use in the spring.
Similarly Gary Quiring, who provided the beautiful photo above, reports that he and his buddies have found accommodations in Bowman. Check out this month’s Letters to the Editor for Gary’s full story from South Carolina.
It’s simply nice to know that despite things looking kind of bleak at the moment, at least anecdotally there still are stories out there with happy endings.
Until next month, fair winds and blue skies.
- John Woodfield RC Gliders YouTube Channel — The most popular RC-related channel on YouTube? Unless you know of others? To find John’s most popular videos, simply sort by popularity in descending order.
- RC Glider Universe — The largest Facebook group catering to the RC glider community that we have been able to find. Do you know of others, which perhaps are larger and/or more active?
- In The Air: Flying fields are as fragile as spring blossoms. — This is where you can find the full text of the LARCS announcement referenced above.
- Composite RC Gliders — “Our modern company specializes in the development, design, and manufacture of high-quality model airplanes made predominantly from composite materials featuring fiberglass and carbon fiber cloth.”
Cover photo: This month’s cover photo of Sebastian Frankel at the Glider Classics meet in Wächtersberg was provided by Werner Fehn of Composite RC Gliders, with our thanks. We have linked Werner’s website in our Resources section above. You are welcome to download the July cover in a resolution suitable for computer monitor wallpaper (2560x1440).
Disclaimer: While all reasonable care is taken in the preparation of the contents of the New RC Soaring Digest, the publishers are not legally responsible for errors in its contents or for any loss arising from such errors, including loss resulting from the negligence of our staff. Reliance placed upon the contents of the New RC Soaring Digest is solely at the readers’ own risk.
Here’s the first article in the August, 2022 issue. Or go to the table of contents for all the other great articles. A PDF version of this edition of In The Air, or the entire issue, is available upon request.