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TCRCM Drops Columbia Park Site & Insurance

posted May 4, 2011, 7:02 AM by R. Scott Page   [ updated May 4, 2011, 7:12 AM ]
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At the Feb 16, 2011 (Tri City Radio Control Modelers) club meeting, attending members voted not to renew sponsorship of the secondary flying site located in Columbia Park. The club had been sponsoring the site under the AMA charter site program for several years for its helicopter and park flyer members.

The decision was made based on liability issues for the club, AMA and officers, not due to cost issues. The club had no authority to enforce basic AMA safety rules. 80% of the flyers there were not TCRCM or even AMA members, so no insurance was in effect for them. Yet when someone got hurt, a shyster lawyer could claim that since it was a "chartered" TCRCM/AMA site, we were liable and almost for certain would come after us. Even if we won a lawsuit, the cost of defense would mean BIG lawyer fees. No insurance would be in place to pay for legal defense.

When visiting the site, frequently we would find people flying aircraft totally inappropriate for the venue: big 30% plus planes flying dangerously over the public, public park users walking right up to the helicopters while they did their 3-D thing, uncontrolled children in close proximity to aircraft, etc. Anyone that had spent any appreciable time at the site could see it wasn't if an accident would happen, only when. The City of Kennewick (park operator/administrator) wouldn't accept any control measures, they just wanted us to provide liability insurance, for everyone including non-members, which AMA won't do.

In discussing the issues with the AMA, they wanted at a minimum, a posted sign with safety rules and clear distinction of the limits of liability. The City would not let even these minor controls to be placed, let alone any significant control measures. With the impasse, the TCRCM club had no choice but to divest itself from the situation, effective when the site charter fees were due to AMA in March.

Of course, each individual with paid up AMA membership has liability insurance for off-site flying-- BUT this liability insurance does not apply if the off-site location didn't meet basic AMA safety requirements such as public separation.