Members of the public who are interested in the hobby of flying radio-controlled model aircraft can learn how to do so safely and responsibly alongside members of the Hot Springs Radio Control Flying Club on the upcoming National Model Aviation Day.
From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 11, spectators and fellow model aircraft pilots can celebrate the day with the club at Cedar Glades Park, 461 Wildcat Road. Pilot registration is $20; spectators may watch the demonstration for free. All planes, choppers and quadcopters are welcome.
With the recent explosion of drone popularity, which led to regulation of all radio-controlled model aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration, HSRCFC Secretary Jack Hord said it is imperative that those interested in the hobby become familiar with the FAA's guidelines and learn how to responsibly navigate airspace.
"In the past few years drones have been more and more popular and the technology is such that they have these sophisticated solid-state gyroscopes that make them simple to fly, where you can fly one from your smartphone. It used to be, to get into our hobby of model aviation, there was a lot of building involved and trying to figure out the skill of operating a model airplane, and now, with the quadrotors -- what we commonly refer to when we're talking about drones -- they're much easier to operate," Hord said.
"They exploded in popularity and that, in fact, started to cause a little bit of a problem."
Hord said the FAA began receiving complaints from full-scale pilots and airplane passengers about drones "getting in the way" of airplanes.
"Sometimes what it really was was that they saw a drone, so a lot of times it wasn't really in the way, it was just something they saw. The FAA decided we need to start putting our foot down on people that are flying recklessly," he said. "The funny thing is, the national organization that our model airplane club is a member of, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, has been around since 1936 -- been doing this a long, long time without any federal oversight."
Now, with the new guidelines, the HSRCFC is helping the FAA by spreading the word to the local community about how to operate model aircraft safely. Hord said with almost every drone purchase a piece of paper is included that instructs the operator to visit the FAA's Know Before You Fly website.
"And we as a club are telling people to bring their drones out here and fly with us and we can help you learn how to operate safely, and it's a safe location to fly," he said of Cedar Glades' radio control flying field.
Hord, a retired aircraft controller, said he has been involved in the hobby essentially his entire life, following in his father's footsteps and picking up the hobby at a young age.
"It really is one of my favorite activities," he said, "and, I am almost the only model helicopter pilot out there; there are lots of drone pilots and airplane pilots, and I'm almost the lonely only helicopter pilot. I think helicopters are awesome."
At the Aug. 11 event, spectators can expect to see all kinds of miniature airplanes and other radio controlled aircraft modeled after full-scale aircraft, most of them built out of balsa wood, Styrofoam or carbon fiber.
Hord said that not only is the event open to spectators, but the club is inviting members of other area clubs to join them in flying. He said there are only five or six model airplane clubs in Arkansas.
Lunch will be served to all pilots; leftovers may be available for the public.
Each year after the event the HSRCFC donates up to $500 to a charitable organization. This year the club has chosen Change Point Pregnancy Care Center to donate event proceeds to.
Visit http://www.hsrcfc.com for more information on the club and membership.Local on 08/06/2018