Foreword: This post is about club problems not about heli manufactures. So if you see any heli manufacture name here, please do not start “heli wars”.
I am a member of Area51 Heli Club in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I would like to tell true story about our club, and what happens when club and field owned by business.
Area51 club and club field was sanctioned by MAAC. In reality, club members are not making any decisions there. All decisions come from Leon Luke (Team Align Pilot) and Mike McGrath. They own AlignRCCnd.com
) company and they are Canadian distributors of Align products. Here is the good example how they run the club:
We had a “club meeting” (the only club meeting Area51 ever had) last winter during indoor flying. We had to choose executives. When we done that, Mike McGrath told to everyone: “It does not matter who is the president of the club. I hope you understand that I have the lease for the club field and you will do what I say.”
Many Area51 members can confirm that (if they do not afraid to be kicked from the club).
Mike and Leon are very sensitive about what people are telling about products they sell. They scan forums and trying to force people to delete any complains about Align. I made a following post:
That what Mike wrote me after that: “I think Mikado Heli looks like an egg (he wrote that because I fly Logos), reminds me of my shuttle z should I go tell the world this too, or is silence golden. Your attitude is yours to have but my field is mine also because I pay for all of it...lol”
. I want to clarify that Area51 members are paying membership fees. After that, he told me that I can’t fly at the club field and that I should find other place to fly. Actually, I am glad, because I will not be his slave any more.
For a long time I have been flying RJX helis then Logos, Protos (and Align too). Leon and Mike did not like that. Because when new pilots come to the field and see how I fly these helis, they want to buy them too. However, Leon and Mike behind my back was telling them not to buy these helis, because nobody going to help them with setup, tuning, etc. (what is not true), because all people are flying Align here. Few new comers told me about that. Many club members could confirm how bad is Mike’s and Leon’s attitude to non Align helis at the field.Some history about Leon Luke and Mike McGrath:
These two persons were kicked from their club ERCHA few years ago. There were few reasons for that:
1) They were trying to run the club and turn it into “Align club”. This means that they wanted to kick all other sponsors from ERCHA website, because they (Leon and Mike) pay more. Moreover, they did not want to see any complains about Align products at ERCHA website.
2) They were extremely rude to other ERCHA club members, especially Mike McGrath. This person forced many people to quit ERCHA. He doesn’t have any respect to other people. I think people who know him could confirm that.
I was new member of ERCHA club when Leon and Mike were booted from the club. Too bad, I did not know Leon & Mike well enough, that why I was against that. With time, I understood that ERCHA made a right decision.
After Mike McGrath had been kicked from the club, he leased the field, which ERCHA wanted to lease. The problem was that old ERCHA sanctioned field (City of Edmonton property) was too close and it was not possible get sanction for the new field. To solve that problem Leon Luke has complained to City of Edmonton about ERCHA field safety, he has send videos of 90 size helicopter crashes to them (Leon told me about that himself). As a result, ERCHA lost permission to fly at that field, and now City of Edmonton does not give such permissions to any of the clubs. The club field has to be private field now. This was huge damage to local RC community…
When Mike and Leon send application to MAAC to sanction the new field, somebody counterfeits my signature (formally, I was Area51 treasurer, even considering that I did not do anything). I did not sign that document. This is criminal case, and MAAC has a proof (my fake signature).
Leon and Mike tried to lease new field even when they were members of ERCHA. I asked Leon: “Why do you need that?”
Leon: “In that case we will be able to control ERCHA. If ERCHA do something what we don’t like, we kicked them from the field”
. Some ERCHA members could confirm this too.Why I wrote that:
1) Please make sure that business does not run your club. Otherwise, club member will suffer at some point. It is much better to pay high fees than have such troubles.
2) I think MAAC (or AMA in the US) must make sure that clubs are following the rules. Otherwise, clubs have to lose sanctions.
3) I think that Align Corp should review their distribution network in Canada. Many local pilots know that Leon & Mike did a big damage to local heli community; therefore, they do not want to buy Align helicopters.P.S.
I wrote here only what I know myself, no speculations here (I am Area51 member, so I know a lot). I can prove most of the staff I wrote here. In addition, I am sure that many local pilots can confirm that I wrote true story about Area51 club.