Running an AMA CUB Program

Have you ever run an AMA CUB program for a lot of children? Maybe you have never built an AMA CUB yourself, or perhaps you have never even seen one. Whatever your experience has been, we would like to guide you along the road to running a CUB program and spreading your knowledge of model construction to a new and usually very appreciative audience.

First of all, the AMA CUB is a very simple, tissue-covered, balsa stick model, powered by a rubber motor, and buildable in about one hour, more or less. It is designed to be built by beginners and a step-by-step building guide is included with each kit. Simple tools are required, such as a single-edge razor blade, pins, building board (of cardboard), Elmer's glue and a little transparent tape.

We recommend to all first-time CUB teachers that they build a CUB on their own before they try to teach anyone else. Follow the instructions to the letter, so that you can understand the reasons for each step. Wait the prescribed time for the model to dry after it is completed, so that you can get an appreciation for the impatience your young pupils will experience while they wait for their planes to dry.

Building boards can be made up from three layers of cardboard taken from supermarket cartons. If the edges are taped securely, these boards can be used again and again. Once you have seen beginners enjoy themselves with a CUB project, you will want to give similar pleasure to others. Pins stick into thicker building boards much better than they will in single layer boards. Built-up boards have the advantage of staying flat and that makes for a more accurate model. You know that if they are built straight, they fly better.

Have you decided when and where you are going to run your session? Have you decided how many builders? More importantly, you will need additional instructors - one for every six to eight builders, so you must give some thought to who will assist you and when and where you will train them so that they have enough knowledge to do a good job. It will probably be a good idea to have a "train-the-trainer" meeting at which you and your supporters can all build an AMA CUB to see how it goes together. After all, there is really no substitute for speaking from experience, even if you have built a hundred other airplanes in your life.

In your meeting room, and if it is a large hall with a high ceiling so much the better, you will need tables and chairs, good lighting, individual glue pots or containers that some glue can be put in, a building board, razor blade and Scotch tape for each place. The AMA CUBs come from the factory in packs of 40 kits to a carton, so you will need to do some early sorting and have the kits ready at each place so that building can commence when you give the word.

Important things to stress to the builders are:

  1. Use only very small amounts of glue.
  2. Read the instructions carefully and obey them.

You may want to allow the builders to proceed at their own pace under the watchful eye of the assistant teacher, or you may want them to go one step at a time to ensure that they don't get off the track. At any rate, explain to them that the smallest amount of glue is the best, as it keeps the plane lighter.

For the stop where the dihedral is built into the wings, it is necessary to turn the airplane upside down. To make this stage easier, you can make some jigs that will hold the plane in place using rubber bands. Many clubs have used jigs and instant glue (Hot Stuff or Super Jet) to fasten the wings to the fuselage, stick. This helps to speed up one of the slow areas of construction, and usually makes a stronger, lighter assembly. Even if you don’t make jigs, you can still use instant glue for this stage of building, and help things along a little.

Remember that people can learn important lessons from this experience; patience, hand-eye coordination, how to follow instructions, how to improve reading skills, better concentration and so on. These lessons are just as important as a flying model airplane, although having the fun of seeing what was built actually fly is really worthwhile. Help your students make the most of the total experience.

Now, how should you handle the flying? You can allow the planes to be flown on either a time or distance basis, or you can do what we have seen done in the past and try the “Shoot-The-Buck” game. In this event, a dollar bill is suspended from above, perhaps 15 feet above the floor. Each flier gets three chances to launch his or her airplane with the goal of hitting the dollar bill. After each flight, the instructors can coach the fliers on how to trim the planes for better and more accurate flight - another chance to learn something about model aviation. Each flier that strikes the bill with his or her airplane wins a dollar, so you had better have some extras on hand for these lucky people. The excitement is great and makes for a worthwhile finish to an interesting event.

One more thought - if you do have enough time for the models to be built, and then time to wait for them to dry, perhaps you will want to consider showing a movie from the AMA Film Library. There are a lot of good ones and one that particularly fits the occasion is  “Marvelous Miniatures” because it covers all phases of model aviation. It will also show the folks that the horizons in this hobby are boundless and that much can be learned and enjoyed from being a model aviator.

There are many benefits that can come to the individual and the club that gets involved in a project of this type. First of all, you get the satisfaction of helping someone else, usually a younger person, to experience the fun of making something. The best part about the AMA CUB is that even when it is built poorly, it will fly. Perhaps the eyes you open to model aviation on any given day will one day be encouraged to pursue a career in aviation or aerospace to the advantage of all of us.

It has been found over the years that model builders are a creative bunch, usually much too busy having a good time with their planes to bother getting involved in matters that develop into community problems. Professionals in the recreation field have confirmed this to us. You may be indirectly responsible for saving the taxpayer many dollars because you took the time to get a group of children started in model aviation.

From the selfish point of view, if your club is known in the community as being “service-oriented” and if you have a positive public image, when it comes time to get a flying site, you will be in pretty good shape. Much better shape than if you have never engaged in any sort of community endeavor. Getting a flying site is a “selling job”, whether we like to admit it or not, and the more pluses you have to start with, the better your chances will be.

So there are many direct and indirect advantages to be gained from making yourself known, and running an AMA CUB program for some active youth group can be a great step forward. Working together is a fine way to improve the spirit of your own club.

Have a good time! We know that you will.