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Flying High the 'RC' Way-Tom Lounsbury

Tom Lounsbury

Mon, 21 Oct 2013 22:39:40 EDT


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Flying High the “RC” Way
By Tom Lounsbury

It was a spectacularly beautiful autumn day last Saturday with clear blue skies, 70 degree temperatures, and all the fall colors in full splendor. I do thoroughly enjoy living in the Thumb of Michigan and I appreciate each and every season, and especially fall.
Finding the location of the Brad Deering farm on Crawford Road near Deford wasn’t difficult at all, and the bright red windsock I spotted back in the field to the west let me know what farm lane to turn down.
As I was approaching a group of parked cars, a “fighter jet” went streaking by low to the ground just to my right, then it performed some rolls in its climb, then completed a beautiful inside loop, rolled again in a unique aerial maneuver and streaked back past me once again on a return journey past the parked cars, and the person (aka pilot) working the radio controls on the ground. The jet arced up again and began performing more rolls and loops. It was quite literally a fine display of aerial maneuvers that was mesmerizing to witness against a beautiful deep blue sky. Then it came in for a great landing and taxied up to the pilot working the controls on the ground.
The jet was actually battery powered (although the fans that powered the engines pretty much duplicated the function of jets that use fuel and in a quieter fashion) and this jet was small enough, you can actually pick it up and carry it away in your hands. This was my introduction to the Cass City RC (Radio Control) Club folks.
I will never forget the first radio controlled airplane I ever saw, which was when I was a kid (some years ago of course) mowing the lawn with a push mower in front of our farmhouse. It was coming low at treetop level down the road, and I at first I thought it was a full-sized airplane and I even waved at it. Then it buzzed right overhead and I will always remember its bright yellow fuselage and strikingly red wings, and then I noticed a pickup truck driving by with a man sitting in the back of the box obviously working the radio controls. The “RC” airplane wasn’t a tiny-tot by any means, as it appeared to me it would have taken up the majority of space in the pickup’s bed. I have no idea who those folks were, but they sure made a thrilling moment for a farm kid performing an otherwise very dull chore. Needless to say that fond old memory really perked my interest in checking out what is new firsthand in this regard these days, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. That jet whizzing by me proved it right at the get-go.
Mike Wilson of Cass City gave me a full tour of the grass airstrip which included netting along the sidelines to protect bystanders from any possible landing RC aircraft going off course. There were also special benches with wing blocks that allowed RC operators to work on, and warm up their aircraft.
All the while I was there planes were in the air, performing outstanding aerobatics. Some made a unique buzzing sound with their 50 cc two-stroke engines. There were airplanes of all sizes, from as small as a wingspan of only a couple feet, to at least six feet (or more). One RC airplane that caught my attention was the fair-sized biplane owned and operated by Melvin Hass of Bad Axe (folks from Huron County were visiting and flying that day). Watching that buzz around in a clear October sky was a pure delight.
Then I noticed a white aircraft with longish wings soaring quietly above and I realized it had to be a glider. It even attracted the attention of some also soaring turkey vultures that probably wondered what was invading their airspace, and was all white and similar sized as they. That’s when I met the man at the glider’s controls, Ron Wagoner of Caro, who explained how everything functioned. The glider actually had an electric push-prop built into it for taking off and applying power as needed. With the right atmosphere, the glider could stay aloft almost indefinitely.
Wagoner was truly into using electric power with rechargeable batteries and showed me a variety of aircraft, including airplanes that he used. He also explained that a person can get into this sport for as little as $135, which even included the radio controls.
I had the chance to experience a birds-eye view from an RC airplane equipped with a camera that sent the image to a pair of goggles I put on. It was quite literally just like being in the pilot’s seat, except your feet were still on the ground.
Bob Witzke of Sebewaing was there operating a “Champ” that looked nearly identical to the first RC airplane I ever saw as a kid. Tony Butler of Cass City takes a different approach by flying helicopters and getting them to do everything helicopters do, including some aerobatics I didn’t know they could do such as inside loops.
Actually the RC aircraft folks around this country have paved the way for the military applications used today. The various “drones” being used for spying, scouting and even attacking are clearly very high-tech RC aircraft.
I met Bob Brooks who is president of the Cass City RC Club (he can be reached at 989-670-0492) and he explained how the public is always welcome to come and watch. Someone is usually flying at the flying field in the evening any day of the week when the weather cooperates. Each Tuesday evening during the flying season (things slow down some during blustery winter weather) there is a focus placed on training students, but anytime a beginner shows up, an effort is made to show them the ropes. The Cass City RC Club can assist anyone interested in getting into the sport with plenty of helpful tips including what to consider and where to go to get it, and of course they will be more than happy to teach how to use it. It is always a pleasure for them as well to get young people involved with this unique outdoor pastime.
I know for a fact that I enjoyed my day of flying high the “RC” aircraft way.

Mike Wilson of Cass City with a favorite RC airplane of his and the radio
controls that all create a unique outdoor experience.

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Bob Brooks is president of the Cass City RC Club. He is holding a work in
progress that will be flying soon.

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Tony Butler of Cass City prefers helicopters over fixed-wing RC aircraft.

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Bob Witzke of Sebewaing enjoys flying his small "Champ".

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Ron Wagoner of Caro prefers battery-powered RC aircraft and is holding a
system that is perfect for beginners to start out with (Including radio
controls)that only costs $135.

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Melvin Hass of Bad Axe and his RC bi-plane equipped with a 50 cc 2-stroke
engine and capable of reaching 50 mph.

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Radio controls for a RC aircraft.

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A RC airplane flying high in the clear October blue sky in the Thumb.

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