By George Brown
They love to fly. And it shows.
Model aircraft enthusiasts from the Edmonton area landed at Moose Field south of town for the Ponoka RC Flyers meet July 12.
One long-time radio control flyer and club member is Bruce Wagar, who had about a dozen of his radio controlled fleet to choose from, parked neatly on the grass.
Wagar says he owns “too many” RC aircraft, by his estimate 20 to 25 fixed wing airplanes and five helicopters.
Getting started in the hobby is easier now than it was 20 years ago, Wagar said. “The equipment is way better now and less expensive. You can get into a nice flying airplane for under $300.
“I’ve got some biplanes that are highly acrobatic — just like the real ones.”
Wagar has one plane that will exceed 100 mph and another that will stay aloft at just eight mph.
“Helis are way harder to fly. I fly both. After 20 years of flying the airplanes the challenge was gone so then I took up helis about three years ago and there’s way more challenge to it. They’re way more difficult.”
Wagar said participation in the fun fly was down somewhat, probably because of the gusting winds that were buffeting the aircraft. Some newbies are not as confident in their handling skills as the experienced radio pilots.
“If it was a steady wind it would put constant pressure on the airplane,” Wagar explained. “But with this, it’s bouncing all over. “It’s like going out on the water with choppy waves.”
This was a fun fly, just a chance for hobbyists to enjoy the summer, renew acquaintances and maybe make a transaction or two. Some clubs organize swap meets and sales where flyers can get parts and buy and sell planes.
“I acquired another aircraft today that I probably didn’t need,” Wagar said.
Some fly RC models and the real thing
Bill Baker from Stony Plain brought a pair of helicopters Moose Field and was a little bit concerned with the wind. “It’s more difficult to bring it back (in the wind) than it is to send it out.
“They’re a lot of fun. They’re a challenge.
“There are some guys who are really good. I haven’t progressed very much. I’m old, I’m too hard to train,” he joked. “I’m scared to spend the money on parts.
Baker is an licensed airplane pilot and took up RC flying about 25 years ago and moved to RC helicopters within the last four years. “I had the opportunity last summer to fly a Robinson R44 helicopter — a full-sized helicopter. I did it. I was quite amazed.”
Pete Holmes, a member of the Ponoka Flyers, used to run a hobby shop in Grande Prairie and speaks from experience when he recommends starting out with a trainer. He’s seen lots of arrogant licensed pilots who want to fly acrobatic planes right from the start.
“Next thing you know, they come back into the store needing replacement parts,” he laughed. ‘Something happened,’ they would say. ‘It just went out of control. It wasn’t my fault.’”
Holmes also had the experience of “having a go” with a Tiger Moth biplane while in England. “We know how they work from so many (RC) crashes,” he said. “We know what not to do.”
For information on joining the Ponoka RC Flyers, call Peter Holmes at 403-783-8709.