[Going the distance to pursue the love of flight]
In keeping up with my February 2014 Valentine’s month column that detailed the love/hate relationships with our RC models, this year’s February column also carries the theme of love. But not to worry. This isn’t about anything sappy and lovey-dovey; rather, it focuses on our enjoyment of flying and the lengths we go to—quite literally—to pursue our love.
I know many people who consider a 20-minute car ride to the local field something of a long journey, while others consider a 45-minute trip borderline absurd. I think most of us fall somewhere in the middle, often enjoying one or two major, annual flying events that require hours of travel time thrown into the mix.
The longest I’ve traveled to surround myself with the sights and sounds of model aircraft, and the incredible mix of pilots who fly them, was my mid-2000s venture to the Triple Tree Aerodrome in South Carolina for none other than Joe Nall Week. Several of us pitched in and rented a large camper, then set out from New Jersey (where I lived at the time) to the event.
Traveling more than 700 miles in relatively close quarters created some interesting getting-to-know-you time, or as I like to say, “You don’t really know someone until you travel with them on the open road for more than two hours.”
Needless to say, we learned about our dining habits (“no, you can’t tell the waitress you’ve fallen so incredibly ill from the food that you want it taken off the bill and then request a take-home box for the same platter”—which wasn’t my request, by the way).
We also found some of our silly sides (such as the “let’s guess what the dead-bug-on-the-windshield count will be by the time we get to our next fuel stop”), and of course, engaged in plenty of discussions about flying.
In the end, the experience was a Disneyland of flight, filled with so many sights that it was difficult to choose what to do or watch next.
7,000 Miles? Piece of Cake!
However, as much as I think my trip to the Triple Tree Aerodrome is an incredible traveler’s tale, there are RC pilots like Ted Galbraith. Ted is no stranger to popular events such as Florida’s Top Gun and Delaware’s Warbirds Over Delaware. No big deal, you say?
Well, Ted calls home, as he said, “merry old England,” where he’s a member of the Epping and North Weald Model Flying Club based at North Weald Airfield. And you thought a half hour in the car was a big to-do.
Ted noted that 2014 marked 25 years of his coming to America to participate in a variety of events, which he said typically amounts to roughly 7,000 miles round trip each time. Whew!
He explained that a typical journey involves upward of four hours of travel and security clearance, and that’s before he even gets on the airplane. Factor in a nearly 8-hour flight with possible delays and needless to say, he’s thrilled to land so he can do what he came for: fly, have fun, and catch up with friends.
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One such friend is none other than Model Aviation’s “RC Giants” columnist Sal Calvagna, a friend whom Ted said is a “friendly, smiling face that is a relief to see.” Sal typically meets Ted at the airport, often taking care of the details of his stay while he’s on this side of the so-called “pond.” Ted usually flies Sal’s airplanes—including his Mitsubishi Zero and Fokker D.VII—at Warbirds Over Delaware.
As for many involved in RC flying, it’s the people you meet away who make all the travel time—whether 7 miles or 7,000 miles—worth the trip.
“The great thing about our RC hobby,” said Ted, “is the people and friends you get to meet up with at flying events. I know the journey might be a hassle, but think how much worse it would be to stay at home, only to be told what a great weekend it was by those who made the trip! It’s the friendships made that make it all worthwhile!”
A Mission for a Special Belt Buckle
Another fan of traveling in the name of the love of airplanes is Boise Area Radio Kontrol Society member, Ernie Lee, from Boise, Idaho. He’s a fan of flying his 33% Krill Katana S, VQ Dago Red, and sometimes the occasional foamie, to name a few.
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In 2014, Ernie went on a three-day, 1,600-mile trip from Boise to Colorado, on a mission to pick up a Fiber Classics Extra that a flying friend had found at a price too good to resist. Along the journey, the two stopped at the Hill Air Force Museum in Ogden, Utah, met with friends they hadn’t seen in a while, and had a good time.
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For Ernie, the trip not only involved the opportunity to travel in the quest for an airplane, but to take in beautiful sites, sell one of his rubber band-powered airplanes, and to work on a mission of his own: to find a belt buckle souvenir in Wyoming, specifically one that said, “Cheyenne” on it.
Ernie enjoyed himself immensely, although for those curious, he never did have luck on the belt buckle front.
So it goes when in this wonderful hobby. For most us, no distance is too far to travel when it comes to pursing our love of all things RC.
Travel miles, anyone? Tell me, how far have you traveled to an event, and what were your experiences? Send me an email. I’d love to hear from you![dingbat]