Did you ever think about how you, a modeler, can utilize your time, talents, and models for community service? In May 2014, I received a call from a local resident who knew I flew RC, asking if I had a P-51 model that could be used as a display to honor veterans at a Memorial Day golf tournament. It just so happens I have P-51B Mustang that I concluded would be perfect for the occasion.
Now this is an amazing story. I live in St. Marys, a somewhat rural town in West Virginia with a population of slightly more than 1,800. What were the chances that this small town has not one, but two living World War II P-51 pilots and both men live less than a mile from me? Well it’s true. Charlie Plemons and Claude Fleming, residents of St. Marys, were P-51 pilots in World War II and are still going strong at age 92.
Both men are avid golfers and the St. Marys Country Club decided to honor these two veterans with a Memorial Day golf tournament. The golfers who participated paid an entry fee and the money raised was donated to the local Wounded Warrior Project chapter. I was honored that my model was utilized to help celebrate this great occasion.
The event was a huge success. It was a great way to honor these two veterans and a great way to employ a scale model aircraft. I urge all modelers to get involved locally and look for ways you can use your unique aircraft and talents to better your community.
Science, technology, engineering, and math: STEM. These four letters are the biggest buzz in education today. The model aviation hobby is a perfect blend of all these things and apparently NASA agrees.
Susan Higley, an eighth-grade teacher at Hughesville High School in Pennsylvania, and her class were tasked to perform a study of the effects of deforestation on the Chesapeake Bay. Susan contacted NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland for help and it supplied an airplane and a hexicopter loaded with sensors that record thermal imaging, temperature, humidity, and pressure changes. Now the problem was who was qualified to fly these aircraft valued at more than $100,000?
Susan contacted Anthony Minnella, president of the Muncy Flyers in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. To complete the STEM requirements, Anthony and the club put together a basic program about how airplanes fly utilizing RC flight simulators, and spent a week in the classroom teaching the students about how airplanes fly. The next week was spent at the field where Anthony flew the sophisticated RC models over the target areas and the students recorded the data for their class.
The class project was a huge success according to Susan, who stated that she had never seen so much excitement and involvement in her class. Also, Anthony Minnella was nominated by NASA’s Remote Sensing Earth Science Teacher Program for an AMA Education Award.
Congratulations to the students, Susan Higley, the Muncy Flyers, and Anthony Minnelli for showing the community what can be done when education and model aviation team up. These types of programs are where our engineers, scientists, mathematicians, pilots, and more will come from in future years.
I’ll leave you with my motto for this year and beyond: Fly safely—fly AMA.