TOWN OF TURTLE—Remote control aviation typically focuses on vintage planes.
What about vintage pilots?
The Rock River Aero Modelers Society is coordinating its first Vintage Pilot Fun Fly on Saturday, June 15. While it will keep the usual emphasis on vintage model planes, the one thing all pilots will have in common is their age—everyone will be at least 62 years old.
“A lot of the warbird events have warbird and vintage planes,” said Stan Anderson, an instructor and event coordinator. “We were having dinner one night after a club meeting. It was mentioned we should have a vintage pilot program, which means anyone who’s going to be flying has to be over 62 years of age.”
The event will correspond neatly with Father’s Day, which is the next day. It will give dads and grandpas an excuse to break out their planes and bring the family with—or leave the family at home if they prefer.
The event starts at 8 a.m. Saturday and will adhere to Academy of Model Aeronautics rules and guidelines. There is no specific end time.
The fabric runway, which measures 350 feet by 45 feet, is located at 6806 S. County J outside Beloit. It is right next to the town of Turtle’s municipal building.
Registration will take place the day of the event. The only cost is a $10 landing fee for pilots, and spectators will be admitted free, Anderson said.
The fly-in will also feature some basic food items—brats, chips and soda. Proceeds will benefit runway improvements or local charities, he said.
One factor that remains up in the air is weather. Rain or high winds would likely force cancellation.
The runway can accommodate “just about any aircraft,” including electric, gas and nitro planes, Anderson said. The inaugural event is not competitive, but if it’s successful, the Rock River Aero Modelers Society will expand it next year, he added.
“The object of it is if we have a pretty nice turnout, find out what everyone’s interested in and maybe tune it for next year,” Anderson said. “If that involves a scale contest or if that involves a flying contest or racing, there’s so many different areas that people could have an interest in. Who knows what’s going to happen?”
The club’s main annual event is called the Flying Circus, and it can attract up to 600 spectators. But that event usually doesn’t happen until September, and it seemed like a lot of club members were waiting around all summer long to get out and fly with their friends, he said.
Anderson is 66, and his flying partner is 88. Yes, this event caters to people in a certain age group, but Anderson said the club has a wide demographic base. For instance, there are two teenage brothers who participate, and ages go all the way up to one person who is 97.
The appeal of remote control airplanes can be different for everyone. Some like the flying. Others prefer the building—whether that’s from scratch or a kit.
Others love exploring the history of different planes, some of which are scaled-down replicas of World War II fighters.
“The main thing is the association with aircraft. I’m a private pilot who, because of medical reasons, can’t fly anymore,” Anderson said.
“That gives me a radio control way to get my flying in.”