Monday, February 11, 2013

Flying Without Leaving the Ground: Radio Control Aircraft

 Maybe when you were kid you played with remote control cars or assembled model airplanes but you may not be familiar with an exhilarating hobby that combines the two and is growing in popularity. 

The Mid-Arkansas Radio Control Society has more than 100 members and they really do take their craft seriously. But they also have a lot of fun. 

"I think aviation has been in my blood since I was little," said Ryan McCon, a MARCS member. "Did some full scale flying. On my 16th birthday got a flight lesson. Couldn't afford to stick with that all my life but I got into this and have been heavily addicted ever since. Can't stop buying airplanes, can't stop flying airplanes."

The airplanes McCon now flies are just smaller than the real thing. 

"They really are miniature aircraft," said Paul Holland, a  MARCS member and newsletter editor. "Whether it's a helicopter or an airplane they really are just a miniature. But they operate in the same way, you just fly them a little bit differently. Instead of seat of the pants and a stick and a rudder, it's hand/eye coordination and depth perception, that sort of thing." 

The Mid-Arkansas Radio Control Society has been around since the sixties and was once considered a retired man's hobby. But has recently seen a surge in interest from the younger generation. 

"We have members that are as young as ten, twelve years old and as old as 90!" said Holland.

The older pilots tend to take pride in the build of the aircraft and good, smooth landings. 

The younger ones... taking the art of flying to a whole new level. 

"They're just fun to fly. And there's always some excitement with these because you really can't master the flight on these. There's always some new maneuver if you have the guts to do it," said club member Marshall Burroughs.

The radio control aviation hobby is growing in popularity and one man we spoke to is trying to turn his hobby into a business. 

"I've always been interested, in the cheap things you get at the toy stores and stuff. Being in video I thought, man surely there's a way we can put a camera on these things and get some pretty neat footage," said Robert Davis.

And Davis was right. 

"It's an angle of footage that you can't seem to get from a full scale helicopter and you can't get from the ground," said Davis.

The challenge Davis still faces is the Federal Aviation Administration. 

The radio control aerial photography business is so new regulations and policies are not yet in place. 

"We've had a lot of people approach us that are interested in doing it from production companies to real estate agents. Once the federal government decides what they want to do with it, I think it could be a pretty successful organization," said Davis.

For now, he and his fellow club members are just enjoying the ride. 

"If you've never flown before it's hard to describe," said Davis. "It's an adrenaline rush, it's relaxing at the same time."

And truth be told sometimes its more about the fellowship than the flying. 

"It's a camaraderie thing," said Burroughs. "Lots of people involved with it. A lot of them fly all different kinds of aircraft... helicopters, airplanes, and it's really fun to watch the younger kids come along. They get really interested and helping them along and watching them progress is really rewarding to see that. It's really fun too."

"It's just fun, the camaraderie among people. Seeing the pilots, seeing what they can do, making your skill better watching and seeing and trying to do what they can do." said McCon.

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