HINSDALE – Flights were grounded for most of Saturday at the Southern Tier Aero Radio Society’s 42nd annual Model Airshow and Fun Fly due to — you guessed it — rain and thunderstorms.
“That’s part of the hobby,” said Rich Bishop of Lancaster, who was sitting under his tent with two of his planes under a tarp Saturday afternoon looking out at the rain. He only got two flights in that morning before rain began to fall and Gary Fitch, STARS vice president and contest event chair, announced the stoppage of flights due to rain.
Del Link of Newark was hoping to get a little more flight time in while his fellow fliers were beginning to cover the planes, when his plane hit a downdraft and fell to the field.
“That’s the good thing about balsa,” Link laughed. “It’s a quick, cheap fix. This isn’t bad.”
Pilots were getting their planes, which cost anywhere from $100 to tens of thousands of dollars, out of the weather. RC plane enthusiasts were huddled under the shelter to get out of the rain, enjoying the food that was available at the event. Others were walking in the rain to look at the 20 or so cars from Street Classics Car Club, who partnered with STARS for the event.
THE MODEL AIRSHOW is the primary fundraiser for the club, and it costs STARS about $6,500 in maintenance and property taxes for their flying field, which they bought in 1992, according to Fitch. Club members are hoping that more people will come out today.
“They’ll see aircraft they don’t normally see,” Fitch said of the planes, whose owners were looking for sunny skies today.
Not only will it give people a chance to see the multitude of models of RC planes flying, but to learn about club benefits, such as free flying instruction, like their Intro Pilot Program.
STARS IS one of the oldest flying clubs in the country — having started in 1932 — and currently has 46 members. Four of its newest members include Jim McKelvey and his family. McKelvey is the club president of Street Classics Car Club, and was introduced to remote control flying last year when the club first brought their cars to the airshow.
“He was here last year and fell in love with flying,” said Fitch. “Not only did he join and learn to fly, but his wife and a couple of others are members now too.”
Admission is free to the event today with a $5 parking donation. There were about 19 pilots registered for the weekend-long event, which ends at 5 p.m., which is a little lower than the average year.
“There were so many events going on,” said Clark Follett, STARS president. “It’s the fourth of July holiday, the weather forecast originally showed bad weather all weekend so I think a lot of people shied away today.”
RC OWNERS take the hobby very seriously and all but the newest members not only own multiple planes, but bring several of those planes when they travel to events like the Model Airshow and Fun Fly. Fitch said he has been flying for 40 years and has about 60 planes.
Bob Soboleski of Hamburg is a member of the Hamburg Fly Nights and was hoping to get some more flying time in after the storms Saturday. He has 25 to 30 airplanes, one of which he kept in the box for 10 years.
“I took it out last year and built it,” Soboleski said. “I took it out this year and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.”
Bishop said he had about 20 planes, and when asked why no one really knew exactly how many planes they had, he laughed.
“Well it depends on what you mean by planes. How many are ready to fly? How many are in the works? I’ve got one I started in 1993.” It’s taking so long because the plane is so large and takes up so much space, that it can’t be left out for any length of time.
Bishop explained the relationship between pilots and their airplanes.
“You have an airplane and you’ve got it dialed in right and its flying great,” he said. “Then it wrecks,” another one of those things “that’s part of the hobby,” as he said earlier.
It can take dozens of flights to “dial it in right,” Bishop said, and went on to explain that’s why it’s difficult to just pick up another plane and expect it to fly the same as another, even when it’s the exact same model.
Consisting of everything from foam and balsa wood to composite materials like fiberglass and carbon fiber, the planes can run on a “multitude of power sources,” Fitch said. He had a six-cell, 5 amp battery on a plane he was preparing to put away, but they can also run on gasoline and some have jet turbine engines installed.
Pilots had a chance to pick up another plane Saturday night, because a remote control device auction was brought back from previous years, as part of the fundraising effort.
STARS next public event is their annual Open House at their flying field, Aug. 24, and a rain date of Aug. 25. For more information, visit rcstars.org.