Club offers high-flying fun
TUSCARORA — Curiosity about flight has led to all types of flying machines in the past century, taking people around the world, but there is still a simple pleasure and thrill of being able to send a model plane into the sky.
That could be seen July 28 in Ryan Township as the Tuscarora R/C Flying Club began its two-day 50th anniversary Aerorama air show celebration at its own flying field near the White Birch Golf Course. There were plenty of model planes and drones for everyone to see. One youngster got a thrill watching aerial displays above the field, all radio controlled by skilled hobbyists identified as “pilots.”
After so many rainy days, the day’s hot sun and the weekend’s sunny forecast had club President Ed Pollack feeling happy. When asked between running from one place and another to get the event ready, he gave credit where he believes credit is due.
“You know what? There is a deity involved,” Pollack said. “We’ve had monsoons the last three weeks. Now we have two good days, and it’s supposed to start all over again on Monday. I asked everyone a month ago to pray. Our prayers have been answered.”
In announcing the anniversary, Pollack said the club is adding to its purpose beyond being an organization for flying model airplanes.
“Our mission this year is to introduce drone flying to the public and generate public awareness of the growing interest and necessity of drone flying,” Pollack said. “We already have made inroads with county officials to begin a training awareness program for any first responders, search-and-rescue teams, fire and police departments at no cost to the community. We realize the impact drones are having on society in search and rescue, police and fire departments as well as recreation. We want to be the first facility to offer this training to the community.”
The club is sanctioned by the Academy of Model Aviation and all pilots and members have mandatory insurance through the AMA.
Pollack explained that the Tuscarora R/C club was formed with the vision of having a club where a person could bring his or her family and friends for a day of fun or flying, learn to fly model radio-controlled aircraft or just enjoy watching others fly their planes. The club’s focus is to promote education, advancement and safeguards of remote control modeling activities and to train people to safely and enjoyably fly their model aircraft. Priority is to be able to give back to the community that has supported us by working with youth groups and community organizations.
“The Tuscarora R/C club began in 1965 and was officially chartered in 1968 formed by a small group of pilots who, through dedication and hard work, were able to secure the land from the Pennsylvania State Park System that we still share, maintain and enjoy to this day,” Pollack said in the history he provided about the club.
“The founding fathers came predominantly from military backgrounds and often shared invaluable stories of WWII, Korea and Vietnam with members and spectators as well. Friendships were made through a common passion of aviation. Some members painstakingly constructed R/C planes patterned after the planes they flew in combat with exacting detail that could only come from firsthand experiences,” Pollack said.
He added, “With advancement of technology, newer members embrace aircraft technologies and have advanced the sport to levels deemed impossible a decade ago. Furthermore, the newer members have reversed tradition by taking the skills learned at the Tuscarora flying club to pursue active paths in today’s armed forces.”
Pollack said the club embraces all aspects of model aviation, which includes fixed-wing aircraft, rotary wing aircraft (helicopters) and multi-rotor drones, most using first-person view technologies.
A walk around showed the diversity in the R/C model hobby. Kyle Snyder, who lives near Snyders in West Penn Township, is a helicopter enthusiast and showed his skill in piloting “Whiplash” in many highly interesting and tricky maneuvers. Before his show, Snyder said he plans to build a lightweight foam airplane.
“This is a 700-class helicopter. I got into helicopters because there is nothing really easy about them,” Snyder said. “There are so many mechanical parts and electronics to them. This also uses gasoline (2-stroke), which adds another factor to it. Some look like they can defy gravity and physics. They are much harder than planes. You can’t ever let go of the sticks.”
Snyder grew up with radio-controlled cars, but left those when he got older. In 2012, he became interested in R/C models and went from there.
“It is a lot of fun and a challenge,” he said. “You have to learn how to fly up, upside down, backward and more.”
Some enthusiasts come up with interesting ideas for making planes. David Kessler, Tamaqua, had his newest plane with the theme from Disney’s “Frozen,” complete with characters in the cockpit. He had an extra wing and decided to build the fuselage from scratch.
Kessler, who has been in the hobby for 20 years, flew another plane named “Jerry,” though his first attempt hit a snag. After doing his pre-check with Nancy Steven, also of Tamaqua, the plane was placed on the ground, the engine was revved and shortly after entering the grassy flying field, it hit a pothole causing some problems. After working on it for a time, “Jerry” took to the air for a memorable flight.
Jeff and Melissa Marks came up from Chambersburg with their replica of a Cub Crafters “Carbon Cub,” which Melissa calls “Big Blue.”
“Any planes larger than 80-inch wingspan are considered ‘giant scale.’ That plane is 86 inches,” Jeff Marks said.
Longtime enthusiast and club member John Majikas, Girardville, has enjoy flying model planes since his childhood when he threw a cardboard glider into the air.
“I started when I was 6 years old during World War II. You got the Wheaties and there was a cutout to make an airplane. You had to put a dime into those, but a dime was a lot of money, so we would put in a penny, but that wasn’t right,” Majikas said. “That’s how we got started. Since that time, we had a bunch of guys at the west end of Girardville who flew on Sunday mornings after the 8:30 Mass. We had about a half dozen people.”
Majikas went to the next step in flying models when he was in the Army and stationed in Europe for 26 months.
“A half dozen of us started flying models and that’s when I got into radio control over in the Germany and have been in radio control ever since,” he said. “I lived in Long Island before I came back her 22 years ago and I used to race model planes.”
Majikas’ collection includes a Fokker D.VII (D7), Piper Cherokee and a PT-19 (pre-1940).
“They’re gas-powered, but when I say gas, they actually use methanol with castor oil and nitro-methane fuel,” Majikas said. “I also have electric planes, such as (Grumman) F8F Bearcat, which is very aerobatic. I have a few airplanes in repair.”
There have been changes in radio control model planes over the years.
“When I first started with radio control, we had five channels to use on a 72-megahertz band, but now we’re up at 2.4-gigahertz unlimited. You can put many, many planes up at the same time without interference. That’s changed in the last dozen years. That’s a major, major change,” Majikas said. “It’s much easier to fly today than it was 30 years ago.”
He said there are also model jets, though they are very expensive, and drones have also become a part of the hobby.
“I am a leader member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, which has 200,000 members,” he said. “We own a 900-acre facility north of Muncie, Indiana. That’s where we have our national model championship that goes on for an entire big thing. It (hobby) is quite a big thing, and it’s quite big worldwide. It made you learn electronics and how to build things in the past, but now things are pretty easy and simple because you buy them ready to go and don’t have to build them from scratch.