All eyes on the sky at Fun FlyRUSHMORE — G.I. Joe, Snoopy and Woodstock figurines might have been sitting in the pilots’ seats Saturday and Sunday at Boldt International Air Field, but the actual flyers of the radio-controlled (RC) model aircraft were the enthusiastic hobbyists running the planes from the ground.
RUSHMORE — G.I. Joe, Snoopy and Woodstock figurines might have been sitting in the pilots’ seats Saturday and Sunday at Boldt International Air Field, but the actual flyers of the radio-controlled (RC) model aircraft were the enthusiastic hobbyists running the planes from the ground.
“It is like the ultimate adrenaline rush,” said Paul Ansell of Sioux Falls, S.D., who brought nine RC planes to the two-day Flying Farmer Fun Fly. “Every one of us, when we fly, shake a little bit. It’s just the challenge of what we do. When I stop shaking, I’ll stop flying.”
Ansell was only one of more than 50 RC model aircraft-lovers from all over the region who attended the 20th annual Fun Fly south of Rushmore over the weekend.
Mark Hyronemus of Worthing, S.D., has been going to the Fun Fly for about 5 years. This year, he brought a Tiger 2 with a 48-inch wingspan and a Sig Senior, with an 80-inch wingspan.
“I keep them in my basement and haul them around in my pickup,” Hyronemus said.
David Larsen of Alcester, S.D., has attended for about 10 years and brought a Taylorcraft 25 and a PQ-14 — a model replica of a World War II-era target drone.
“It’s a radio-controlled model of a radio-controlled airplane,” Larsen explained.
RC planes can be an expensive hobby, with some planes’ engines costing in excess of $2,000, but a person could likely get started with about $500 — about $250 for the plane itself and $150 for the radio.
Not everyone at the Fun Fly was there to fly planes. Some came just to watch.
“It’s fun,” said Lyle Passmore of Oscoda, Mich., who attended the Flying Farmer Fun Fly with fellow spectator Owen Akre of Strongfield, Saskatchewan. Akre and Passmore are friends of Dave Boldt, the mastermind behind the Fun Fly.
“It’s neat to bring all these people from different parts of the country. It’s neat to see the different skills people have,” Passmore said.
Some flyers emphasize speed, while others emphasize fancy flying, doing flips, loop-the-loops and more complex aerial maneuvers.
RC planes come in a wide variety of sizes, from 18-inch-wide Styrofoam aircraft to 35 percent scaled 8-foot wingspan giants. The larger planes needed most of Boldt International Air Field’s 420-foot grass runway to take off and land. And depending on engine and materials, the planes can go up to 200 miles per hour.
“They’re a real airplane,” Larsen said.
“You just can’t ride in them,” Hyronemus added.
“And you walk away from every crash,” Larsen replied.
RC planes can be purchased from hobby stores in two different ways, either Almost Ready to Fly (ARF) or as a kit. ARF planes need to have their wings and tail put on and engine and radio installed. Kit planes have major pieces cut out, but mostly consist of a lot of sticks and pieces that need to be glued together, sanded into the correct shape and covered with cloth or plastic before the engines can be installed.
Hyronemus said he got into the hobby for the challenge of it and for the flying itself. Larsen enjoyed the woodworking the most, and making the plane look like a scale model of something larger.
But the challenge of getting the RC planes up and down in one piece is ever-present, and crashing is common. Sometimes a downed plane is salvageable, and sometimes it isn’t. Even if the plane isn’t salvageable, though, its engine usually is, unless the crash is particularly bad.
Flyer Bob Brock of Sioux Falls, S.D. said he flies RC planes because he can’t afford to fly full-sized planes.
“I enjoy the art of creating something I can put in the air,” Ansell said. “The great thing about an event like today is that you can BS with the other pilots. It’s great camaraderie, a great bunch of folks.”
Brock and Ansell have more than 90 years combined of experience with RC planes, because both have been involved with the hobby since they were children.
Ansell put together many of the planes Brock flies and the two often fly together. Ansell can put together a plane from a kit in an unusually short period of time — sometimes just 28 hours.
Saturday’s flying was good, flyers reported, despite the gusts of wind that forced the less powerful RC planes to struggle a bit in the air. There were a few crashes, one into the ground, one into a stand of bushes and another into a field that left a plane’s owner searching through corn and beans to find the aircraft.