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Model Airplanes

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If the sound of a whirring motor has ever disturbed your quiet walk in the park, then you've likely experienced model aeronautics before.

People interested in this hobby build, fly and operate scaled-down versions of real planes, helicopters and rockets, using remote-control radio technology. It's a far cry from the paper airplanes you folded as a kid. With this hobby, the sky's the limit!

Take an open area, add some people who have a knack for flying, include their planes and you've got a recipe for a fly-in. There are clubs all across North America that welcome new members, or visitors who would just like to see if model airplanes might be for them.

Anyone from age four and up might be interested in this hobby, according to Gary Smith of the Westerville Model Aeronautics Association. He has seen some people as young as four and five fly a plane, but says that's pretty young.

Anyone who has an interest in the principles of flying might be interested in model aeronautics. Smith says that about 98 percent of the pilots that he knows are male.

Many people who are retiring are finding that flying is an enjoyable way to spend their leisure time. As well, fathers and sons or daughters take this up as a family hobby. This is a hobby that can be shared with others, or enjoyed on an individual basis.

The number of people involved in this hobby is growing all the time. In Canada, there are 13,000 members of the Model Aeronautics Association. In the United States, the Academy of Model Aeronautics has a chartered group in most states. Smith's club in Ohio has about 200 members.

Fees to join clubs vary, depending on where you join and your age. For junior flyers, the price is less. For adults, the memberships tend to be around $40 per year.

One interesting group is the Scale Warbird Racing Association in Arizona. They advertise the thrill, excitement and nostalgia of racing radio-controlled piston-driven warbirds. They organize races around pylon-racing courses.

In these races, the pilots fly in a counter-clockwise rotation, around two pylons, with the aircraft flying parallel to the runway in both directions. Beginners and experts compete against people of equal skill. These races are meant to be fun for spectators and participants.

Getting Started

You can purchase a plane and all the gear you will need for between $150 and $200. Hobby and specialty stores sell the supplies. You might want to read your local classified section or check out the Internet to save money by buying used equipment.

More experienced pilots will tell you to start out with a trainer. These models are slow and easy to fly with a small sport engine. Sometimes learning the ropes can try your patience, so these planes make it a bit easier to start. You will also have to decide if you want to build a plane, or buy one that is all ready to go.

Beginners should ask others who already know what they are doing to show them the moves and how to avoid crashing. They probably know from experience! Actually, some beginner planes have dual controls. That way, if the beginner is uncertain of what to do, someone with more experienced will bail you out.

Smith says that flying a model plane is like flying a full-sized plane, but harder. "You have to be able to observe it. It's easier to do when you are facing the same direction as the plane, but you have to turn it around sooner or later. When you do, everything is opposite."

Once you get the hang of it, look out! Smith has seen people do things with remote-controlled aircraft that are impossible to do with real planes. Master the laws of gravity and the air is your playground.

If you like to fly model planes, you may want to think about these career choices:

Pilot: An obvious choice if you want to be in the air with the plane, but still in control of things.

Flight attendant: If you like to fly and also enjoy dealing with the public, this might be the choice for you.

Hobby store owner: You could specialize in remote control products and share your love for model aeronautics with others.


Westerville Model Aeronautics Association
P.O. Box 87
Worthington , OH   43085

Academy of Model Aeronautics
5151 E. Memorial Dr.
Muncie , IN   47302-9252


Model Airplane News

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by  Gerry Yarrish


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