MOUNT MORRIS – Whether zipping past spectators at high speeds or hovering in the air, pilots at the Ogle County Airport put on a show over the weekend.
They weren’t flying regular planes, though. These pilots were flying radio-controlled aircraft in the Midwest RC Roundup.
“These model airplanes average 50 to 60 mph, but the high-performance planes are pushing 100 mph, and there is one plane here today that can go 140,” said Ed Scherer of Belvidere, president of the Rock Valley RC Flyers Club.
Model airplane enthusiasts had a variety of models on display, on the ground and in the air.
“This type of model takes 2 or 3 nights to build,” said Scherer, who was working on an ARF, an almost-ready-to-fly model. “... others are bigger and take 2 months or more to build.”
The best way to get involved in the RC hobby is to contact a club, many of which will train people to fly, Scherer said.
During training, an instructor will have a master remote control and the student will have a tethered remote.
“It is a great way to learn about RC planes without worrying about crashing the plane,” he said.
Training also allows a person to get a taste of flying model planes before paying for a kit. Models can range in price from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.
“A big mistake people make is buying a plane that looks cool but is hard to fly. In this hobby, you need to crawl before you can walk,” Scherer said. “Once you learn to fly, you can get into park flyers that can be flown over a ball field for about $200. If you join a club, all the members are helpful and can answer questions.”
Larry Calkins of Sterling, a member of the Morrison Model Aircraft Flyers, said it can take a month of practice to get comfortable flying a model plane.
“The more practice you can get, the better you will be at flying,” Calkins said. “After a month, you can solo most planes, but take your time and ask questions.”
Calkins had one of the larger planes at the roundup, a Stearman Model 75 Biplane.
“I built this model kit over 11 years, on and off,” he said. “I would guess it would have taken 2 years to make if it was being worked on regularly.”
It flies well, but it is an advanced plane. “I have someone fly it for me,” Calkins said. “This plane was a Christmas present, and I like to build planes.”
One treat for Calkins: There was a full-size Stearman Model 75 at the airport.
“I took a photo of my model with the full-size plane.”
To get involved
The Freeport Radio Control Modelers Club Academy of Model Aeronautics hosted The Midwest RC Roundup; the Morrison Model Aircraft Flyers and Rock Valley RC Flyers Club also participated.
Learn more about the clubs at www.freeportilrcmodelers.com, www.mmafrc.org or www.rockvalleyrcflyers.com.