[Headline: The clever and curious ways RC pilots transport their aircraft]
Let’s face it. Sometimes the urge to fly is so strong that all of the assembling, packing, and fiddling around at the flightline can be frustrating. When you want to fly, you want to fly, right?
Ah, the joy of getting to the field, taking a fully assembled aircraft out of your vehicle, and getting your hands on the transmitter instead of the screwdriver! Flying without fuss is easy and convenient, and satisfies those must-fly-now heebie-jeebies.
Most of the time we’ll do whatever it takes to make sure our aircraft are ready to go with ease, by transporting everything in some unique ways. Whether we’re taking our airplanes hundreds of miles to an event or just down to the local field, the methods of transport know no boundaries. We’ll find ways to get our airplanes and helis—no matter how large they are—to and from all kinds of locations.
Only RC pilots really know what they are towing on the road or hiding under some cartop carriers. (Who says they’re holding camping gear or transporting horses?)
Thank Goodness for Convertibles
Just ask Tom Polapink, owner of a Fokker D.VII and, conveniently, a 1969 Chevelle convertible.
“The Sterling D.VII fits perfectly in the back seat,” says Tom, editor of Skyways The Journal of the Airplane 1920-1940 and a member of the Long Island Skyhawks. He jokes that “… it only works when it isn’t raining and on side roads where you can stay under 30 mph or so.”
However, the ability for him to simply put his airplane in his car with ease and go brings a smile to his face. “Being able to fit a fully assembled model in your vehicle saves a lot of setup and breakdown time at the field,” says Tom, who is also a volunteer at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Rhinebeck, New York.
It’s not every day a convertible carrying an airplane is spotted, but we RC people don’t even blink an eye!
What’s Really in the Cartop Carrier?
Who but RC pilots would ever guess what might be in cartop carriers? What does Scott Annis, former president of the Millis Model Aircraft Club in Massachusetts, carry? Only in our hobby would wings and other airplane parts be found, wrapped as carefully as a newborn baby swathed in blankets.
“This is the ideal solution for me to carry my wings,” he said of his Fokker D.VII wings that are housed in his cartop carrier. “Sure, it might be meant for fishing poles or skis, but this does the trick, fitting perfectly and keeping them separate from what’s in the rest of my vehicle—which is, of course, airplanes.”
Move It Like You Mean It
As for people who go above and beyond when it comes to transporting their items to and from various events, Joan and Ron Liska have it down pat. The members of the Wintonbury RC Club of Bloomfield, Connecticut, both have well-thought-out plans, depending on how many airplanes are involved. There’s a system, you see, and it works wonders for them.
“One plane will fit in our Chrysler Town and Country van by mounting the wings in a double sling,” said Joan. She went on to explain their various methods to secure certain airplanes using wide bands, bungee cords, wheel chocks, and Velcro to prevent the wings and fuselage from sliding.
However, when two or more models enter the picture, their routine changes entirely. That’s when they roll out what Joan refers to as the big rig—their Dodge 3500 dual-wheel pickup with a camper body to which they hitch their 22-foot trailer.
“With this rig,” Joan explained, “we usually put the delicate wings on the queen-size bed in the camper and anchor the fuselages of the two or three planes we bring to the floor of the car trailer. Now we have plenty of room to bring whatever additional ‘stuff’ we want to tag along. “When we get to the field, the real benefit of the car trailer is that we can keep as many as three fully-assembled models (including our 12.5-foot Curtiss Jenny, our 1/3-scale Piper Cub, and 1/4-scale S.E.5a) in the trailer at night so we can bring them out in the morning ready for an early morning Dawn Patrol flight.”
The Bicycle-and-Tow Method
In direct contrast to the Liskas is Russell Hall, member of the Winnipesaukee Radio Controllers in New Hampshire, where I’m a member. This young man does not yet have his driver’s license, so getting to the flying field requires some creativity, which he has demonstrated. Although Russell doesn’t have his own vehicle, he still manages to get his airplanes to the field and take to the skies. How?
Russell draws a great deal of attention with his cleverly assembled bike and airplane-towing system, pedaling both himself and his airplanes to the field.
I’ve seen his setup numerous times and not only admire his unique method of transportation, but also admire the fact that it conveys the strong desire that all passionate RC fliers have: to get out there and fly, and to find ways to do it no matter what it takes.
Send me an email. I’d enjoy hearing about how you transport your airplanes and helis to various events and local fields, or share some unusual observations you’ve made in this regard. The more unique, the better!