It is difficult to generalise about what to expect at any particular club site but there are some features which should be common to any flying experience.
First of all, you should familiarise yourself with the layout of the site: find out where to park, where the runway is, what system of transmitter control is in use and so on. The handbook lists a few examples of runway and parking layouts.
Many clubs operate a system of flight checking new members and not permitting them to fly solo until they have demonstrated their competence - either by a flight check with a committee member, or by possession of a certificate of competence issued by the BMFA or other recognised body. The BMFA has a well established Achievement Scheme for fixed wing power, helicopters and gliders.
If you are flying from a club controlled site there should be a safety officer responsible for monitoring flying activities ensuring that operations are conducted in as safe a manner as possible. Even on public sites, such as many slope soaring sites, there is probably an agreed set of procedures amongst the regular users on how and when you fly. Take the time to find out, and then stick to them. One of the most useful things that a novice can learn is that safety is a frame of mind, and although safety rules are a good start, even more important is a constant awareness of what you are doing and how it may affect other people around you. Initially you should be supervised by an experienced club member, who will advise you on your clubs procedures, but safety awareness should be a permanent part of your flying routine.
The 35MHz band has 26 channels available: however, on any channel only one transmitter can be active at a time. To prevent new arrivals switching on a transmitter on a channel already in use and perhaps shooting down a model, most sites will operate a system of transmitter control. For a few flyers this may be as simple as asking around before switching on but on most sites there will be a more formal approach.
There are other systems but the most popular arrangement is a peg-board marked with all the available frequencies, and a peg to indicate permission to use the frequency. The pegs are used in one of 2 ways:
- there is one peg per channel and you must have possession of the peg before switching on;
- each pilot has a peg for his channel, and must clip it to the appropriate space on the board before switching on.
There may also be a frequency allocation plan in operation. As a general rule power models use odd frequencies and gliders even, but there may be an agreement between clubs with adjacent flying sites to split the frequency band up in such a way as to ensure there is no radio interference between sites. There is also a contest band plan which allocates frequencies to various disciplines to maximise frequency use at competitions.
You should be familiar with the circuit pattern that your club operates. Novices should be taught this as part of their flying skills.