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High flyer honored for contributions to model aeronautics

Sibley man inducted into the Academy of Model Aeronautics Hall of Fame

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Dave Herbert is shown with his Byron Pitts remote controlled airplane. (Special to The Globe)
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SIBLEY, Iowa — When Dave Herbert was asked by YouTube in 2006 to become one of its charter members, his challenge was to share his expertise in model aeronautics by producing educational and informative videos to be shared in cyberspace.

His passion to teach others anything and everything to do with the high-flying machines has since garnered him nearly 57,000 subscribers around the world and more than 69.5 million views to his NightFlyyer channel.

Sharing his knowledge of remote control aeronautics with others is just one of many reasons Herbert is being honored as a 2020 Academy of Model Aeronautics Hall of Fame inductee.

He was to receive his plaque in January 2021 during the academy’s national gathering in Muncie, Indiana, but the ongoing global pandemic has cancelled the event. Instead, the award was sent through the mail, and his wife, Ilea, kept it a secret until members of the Southwest High Flyers Remote Control Club gathered earlier this month in Rushmore.

During the meeting, Ilea read aloud the letter from the academy and then presented her husband with the plaque recognizing his contributions to the promotion, development and advancement of aero-modeling in the U.S.

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“I didn’t think there was ever any chance that I would get it,” Herbert said of the honor. “They only select four a year.”

A lifetime member of the academy — a nationwide club with more than 200,000 active members — Herbert has several of his inventions on display in the National Model Aviation Museum in Muncie, as well as in the San Diego Aerospace Museum.

His achievements don’t stop there.

Over the past 50 years, Herbert has been instrumental in developing models and technical electronics for remote control aeronautics, including inventing the first tail rotorless helicopter for Kyosho in Japan, as well as inventing dual rates for remote control radios while working as an engineer in 1979 at Kraft Radio Control Systems in California.

His inventions have had a tremendous impact on the industry. He’s known as the father of night flying, working for eight years to test the theory before sharing his stories in trade magazines.

At the time, most people couldn’t fly a remote control airplane during daylight, much less in the pitch black of night, he said, adding, “Night flying is really common now among RC’ers.”

Herbert has written numerous articles about remote control aeronautics for magazines, which turned out to be a good lead-in to his production of YouTube videos.

“Writing for magazines is harder than making a video,” he shared.

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Herbert’s love for model airplanes and helicopters began at the age of 8 and was fostered by his father, a pilot and instructor in the Army Air Force in the 1940s.

“We talked airplanes a lot,” said Herbert. When he joined the U.S. Marine Corps in the midst of the Vietnam War and ended up studying avionics in the Aviation Corps to work on jet aircrafts, his dad beamed with pride.

Herbert went on to serve in Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines and Korea, and was stateside at bases in Jacksonville, Florida and southern California during his 34 years with the military.

He worked with RF4B Phantom jets and CH-53e helicopters as an avionics technical support technician, which contributed to his passion for remote control airplanes — the highly advanced technical models that fly like the real counterparts.

He flew 6-foot-long F-16 jets in the movie “Blue Thunder,” which were ultimately blown up in flight with plastic explosives. The movie outtakes can be viewed on his YouTube channel.

Fascinated by mechanical things and the science and engineering behind aircraft flight, Herbert not only shares his expertise through YouTube, but for the past dozen years he’s been a guest speaker in Darryl Tutje’s science and STEM classes at Sibley-Ocheyedan High School. He talks to students about remote control aircraft — including drones — and demonstrates flying various models.

“I do everything I can to teach the simplest way to fly, the rules for flying model airplanes,” Herbert said. “I’m trying to … get kids interested — instead of playing video games on their phones — to get out and do something.”

Herbert has competed and placed in numerous multi-wing championships, and continues to write product reviews for manufacturers in the industry.

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“Model airplanes, today, are pretty sophisticated,” he said. “You’re not just playing with toy airplanes. They’re pretty sophisticated electronics.”

Herbert said he’s always inventing and trying to do something different with remote control aeronautics to inspire others. He regularly flies some of his larger remote control airplanes and helicopters at the Sheldon Airport.

To view his YouTube videos, visit youtube.com/NightFlyyer .

Related Topics: PEOPLE
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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