Radio control club flies micro model planes
FARMINGTON — Once a month, the gym at Piedra Vista High School's Jerry A. Conner Fieldhouse is filled with the buzzing of tiny airplanes.
That's because a group of model airplane pilots armed with tape for repairs meets to share their enthusiasm for flight.
Antony Burgett, the vice president of the San Juan Radio Control Club, said between five and 25 pilots bring planes to the gym each month.
Many of those pilots also fly larger models, but enjoy the different challenge of indoor flying.
“It’s a whole different story flying indoors,” Burgett said
He explained that inside there is no wind except for the occasional “thermal” caused by the large heaters inside the gym
“You don’t have to compensate for any of the wind,” Burgett said. “It makes life a whole lot easier.”
However, indoors is a smaller space, which presents its own challenges.
“Outside you’ve got the wind, but inside you’ve got the walls,” he said.
Steve Guattery, one of the pilots who brought his planes to fly last Sunday, said the smaller models also are more affordable.
The small planes can be flown outdoors under the right conditions.
“If there’s more than a slight breeze, then you’re in trouble,” Guattery cautioned.
Paul Jarvis, a club member who is also a sponsored radio control pilot, had been hesitant to try the smaller models, but a year ago he joined the other pilots at the high school.
One of the things that impressed him was how little the models weighed.
“These things don’t even weight 7/10ths of an ounce,” he said.
He has continued attending the indoor flying event and bought his own small models.
“I’ve never flown a model — I don’t care what it is — that I didn’t learn things,” he said.
Burgett's enthusiasm for radio control planes comes from his fascination with flight in general.
“I’ve always loved flight, whether its RC or full scale,” he said.
While he is not a licensed pilot for full scale airplanes, the radio control planes provide challenges that are similar to those of flying a regular aircraft.
“Everything that applies to a full scale aircraft applies to a little RC model,” he said. “It’s just smaller.”
In addition to being small and inexpensive, there is also a large selection of ready-to-fly and kit model planes.
"The variety of these things has really been awesome," Roy Stoddard, the club president, said as he showed off one of his kit planes, a SweetDream.
Kit planes are what Stoddard really enjoys flying. He reuses motors from wrecked planes when he puts together the kit plane.
"I'm a builder," he said. "I really like building the planes."
Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.
Types of planes
Night Vapor: The slow-flying plane comes with pre-installed multi-colored LED lights, which make it an impressive model to fly at night. Because of its slow speed and light weight, it can fly in extremely small spaces, including home living rooms. The Night Zone is one of three ready to fly ultra-micro models produced by ParkZone. Ready to fly Night Vapors cost about $100. The transmitters are sold separately and multiple planes can use the same transmitter.
SweetDream: The kit plane is modeled after the Airdome Dream Classic, a minimalist single engine aircraft. The kit comes with pre-cut pieces that can be assembled. The kit is manufactured by Steven's Aeromodel, which is based out of Colorado. The plane is also designed to have a cartoon look, including a "toon pilot" known as Sgt. P.R. Diddle. SweetDream kits cost about $40 to $60.
Hobbyzone Champ RTF: A compact, yellow and orange foam plane is a popular choice for pilots. The foam makes the model more durable than many others and the Champ comes ready to fly. Champs can be purchased for about $100.
Quadcopter: There are a variety of sizes of quadcopters, but all use four rotors to lift the model into the air. Blue lights on the front and red lights on the back help the pilot know which way the quadcopter is heading. If the blue lights are facing the pilot, the transmitter commands will work in reverse, adding to the challenge of flying the quadcopter. The models are easy to fly in small areas and can have cameras attached to them. With a wide range of prices, from about $20 to more than $1,000, the quadcopter can be a popular way to get into radio control flight.