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Sterling flying club seeks new members

by Lex Thomas

The Wachusett RC Flyers, a club for remote control airplane flyers and modelers, was formed in 2012 at Fitchburg Municipal Airport. While the airport seemed like an ideal location, it came with the stipulation that only FAA-registered pilots, ex-pilots, or people with a gate pass, could get onto the field, which limited membership. The club began scouting around the area to find a less restrictive space that would provide the opportunity to expand membership beyond the relatively small circle of professional pilots. In 2014, the Sterling Board of Selectmen approved the club’s application to utilize the landfill at the end of George E. Peeso Lane, behind the Sterling Police Department.

On Saturday, June 18 (rain date Saturday, June 25), the club will hold its second open house. Club secretary/treasurer Al Dean is hoping the event draws families and youth who may be interested in pursuing the hobby he and his fellow club members are passionate about.

The open house is free of charge, and will feature demonstrations of model airplanes, helicopters, acrobatic planes, quadcopters, FPV multicopers, sport flying, and gliders. Two flight simulators will also be available for the public to use. Kids will get a free foam glider, complete with instructions for building their own. Anyone can try their hand at flying with an instructor using The Apprentice RTF Beginner RC Airplane. The instructor operates a transmitter, while the student is on a “buddy box” that enables them to learn the basics of flying.

“We’re looking to spark interest in new members, and especially in youth, for the continuation of the hobby,” says Dean.

In addition to being an engaging sport, Dean says there may be practical reasons for youth to take up remote control flying. According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (aopa.org), a Maryland-based non-profit organization that advocates for general aviation, there will be a worldwide shortage of 500,000 pilots by 2035.

“The airline industry has largely depended on the military as a source of pilots,” says Dean. “Now, the airlines have to train pilots, and there aren’t a lot of people who can afford to accrue to 250 flight hours to even qualify for training.” Learning the rules of aviation and the science of flight through a club such as Wachusett RC Flyers may give youth a solid foundation of knowledge, and spark an interest that could become a lifelong career.

Boys and girls as young as 10 can begin to learn how to build and fly their own remote control planes. All new members are required to join the Academy of Model Aeronautics (modelaircraft.org). Membership is free, and offers full liability coverage. For a small fee, members receive a monthly publication packed with information for the aviation hobbyist.

The fee to join Wachusett RC Flyers is $75 for adults, and $10 for youth. The membership application is available online at wachusettrcflyers.org. Airplanes and kits suitable for all ages begin at around $125.

“We’re excited about our open house, and hope everyone will come on out to check it out,” says Dean. “We’re also grateful to the Board of Selectmen, especially [former selectman] Bob Cutler for giving us the approval for the site, and to the DPW for all the work they’ve done to prepare the field for our use.”

Open house Saturday, June 18, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the field at the end of George E. Peeso Lane. Free admission.

Lorna Jean’s Food Truck will be on site to provide eats and beverages. For information, visit wachusettrcflyers.org.  See here for the SLCT video about the event.

Note:  Please access the flying field via George E. Peeso Lane, via Chocksett Road.

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