Model airplane enthusiasts take to the sky

BELPRE – A variety of miniature airplanes and helicopters – and even a flying lawnmower – buzzed, swooped and looped through the air Saturday at the Spring Fun Fly organized by the Blennerhassett Area Radio Control Club in Belpre.

Dave Hefner, club treasurer, said Saturday’s event drew RC enthusiasts from a 200-mile radius for the club’s annual fun fly.

“We call it our ‘spring fun fly’ and that means we’re not judging who’s flying. There are all kinds of judged events … and that’s in a separate genre,” he said.

The club is a member of the American Modelers Association and has been active in the Mid-Ohio Valley for years. It maintains a club house and small air field in the Porterfield area, just west of Belpre. As a way to help the community, the landing fee to fly at Saturday’s event was a donation of food or money that will be provided to one of the local food pantries, Hefner said.

Hefner said the fun fly is an annual event held by the local club each June. There has been talk of organizing a fall event, but the main interest at this time is in continuing to hold the spring event, he said.

Some of the visitors at Saturday’s event came from as far as Huntington, Wheeling and Weston, while others came from throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Kevin Cline, of Newport, is a member of the Flying Wing Nutz of St. Marys, and brought along his flying lawnmower for Saturday’s event. Cline said he bought it as a kit last year, built it and has been flying it since. The kits are well-known but not numerous among RC enthusiasts because – while they fly – “they fly really bad,” he said of the lawnmower kits.

“Everybody likes watching it though,” he said.

Cline has been an RC flyer for about 25 years and has been attending the Belpre event for several years. He likes flying aerobatic models.

“I’ve always had an interest in aviation and I’ve always liked airplanes,” he said.

Cline said the people he sees who are interested in RC flying tend to be older and many would like to see younger people get involved in the hobby.

He has also seen interest growing in quadcopters, often referred to as drones, as another type of radio control flying. For himself, Cline said those craft are usually more high-tech, with cameras, GPS and other types of systems, including self-stabilization.

“You don’t have to fly them, they fly themselves. I’m not in the hobby to watch it fly, I want to fly it,” he said with a laugh.

Garry Spaur, and his wife, Kelley, of Weston, W.Va., were attending Saturday’s event. Spaur said he has been flying for about 12 years. A friend gave him a half-finished plane kit and he was getting ready to throw it away when he decided to finish it and try flying it.

“That started the whole messy ball rolling,” he said. “I’m more into the scale-type flying. My older thumbs don’t seem to have the aerobatic skill that they probably need.”

Hefner said the BARCC club currently has about 25 members and meets at noon on the first Saturday of each month at the field. It is open to anyone interested in learning about radio control flying.

The members fly fixed wing and rotary aircraft of different styles and types. Some fly scale models, meant to be nearly identical in every way to their full-sized counterparts. Others fly planes meant primarily for aerobatics and trick flying.

There are a wide range of types and interests for those interested in the hobby, Hefner said.