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Fun Fly draws 30 model airplane pilots

Orvin Fossen brought his gas-fueled Carden Cap 232 to the Fun Fly. It weighs 37 pounds. He's a member of the Perham club as well as the Valley RC Flyers out of Fargo.1 / 4
Zeke Staloch of Park Rapids built three model planes out of foam core board. He incorporates a security camera so he can fly First Person View, as if seated in the cockpit. 2 / 4
Eric Bittmann, 10, of Lake George flies model planes weekly with dad Dennis.3 / 4
With its 110-inch wing span, this Rascal 110 is a giant-sized, sport model airplane. Dennis and Eric Bittmann assembled it together as a father-son project. (Photos by Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)4 / 4

Headwaters Radio Control (RC) Flying Club, a group of model aviation enthusiasts, hosts an annual Fun Fly the third weekend of August.

About 30 pilots arrived Aug. 25-26 for this year's event.

"We finally got some decent weather," said Club President Dick Reich. "This is the best weather we've had in four or five years. We saw double the number of pilots compared to last year."

Fliers traveled from St. Paul, Fargo-Moorhead, Grand Forks, Bemidji, Lake George, Laporte, Perham and Detroit Lakes.

The grassy, five-acre site — newly named Ronald Griffith Field — lies four miles west of Park Rapids. Griffith previously owned the property, but when it was sold to the R. D. Offutt Company, he made sure a corner of it would remain the club's airfield.

"He was one of members. Passed away last year so we named the field for him," said Reich.

Zeke Staloch is one of the club's newest members. He prefers First Person View (FPV) RC flying. A live video feed is instantly transmitted from the aircraft down to Staloch, who wears video goggles. An onboard security camera sends a signal via a video transmitter. A video receiver, with two different antennas (directional and omnidirectional), picks whichever one has better reception, Staloch explained.

He has been building model airplanes for five years. On Saturday, he brought three planes, of various sizes, constructed with foam core board and rubber bands. The shafts are from arrows.

"Light. Cheap. You pull the electronics out of there, I've got about three dollars worth of material," he said.

Two of the planes have 60-inch wing spans; the other 36 inches.

He also flies quads. "Those are all down for maintenance," he said.

Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) membership is required for those who wish to fly their model aircraft. The Fun Fly is an AMA-sanctioned event, offering RC-related items as prizes.

Lake George resident Paul Stafki flies "a lot."

"I fly regular airplanes, helicopters and I've got some of those EDF (Electric Ducted Fan) jets, too," he said.

He recruited his neighbor, Wayne Fuhrman, to the hobby five years ago.

"It's all my fault," Stafki said, chuckling. "I took him to one of these shows one day."

"That was it for me," Fuhrman agreed, adding his favorite is "crashing. Then you get to go buy a new one."

After flying radio-controlled planes, Stafki was inspired to get an actual pilot's license. "It's easier to fly in a real airplane after you fly these."

Without the electronics or motors, some model planes cost about $200 to $300, according to Reich. Fuhrman's Stingray is worth $1,000.

Dennis Bittmann and his 10-year-old son, Eric, have assembled a Rascal 110 and many other model planes together.

"I got interested and just started flying," Eric said.

He likes everything about RC flying — except crashing.

Dennis said, "I did it as a dad-son thing. No computers. No video games. This is why we do it. It's just a good learning experience. He's a better pilot than I am."

The Bittmanns fly every week.

The planes typically soar about 100 to 200 feet, Reich notes. The maximum is 400 feet high.

David Tsen said he misses the days when he flew with his son, who is now in graduate school. Tsen has attended the Headwaters Fun Fly since their beginning.

"It's very low key. People here are incredibly nice, and it has what I call the best town support I've ever seen," Tsen said. "RC people are all hams, so we like to put on a show."

To learn more about the club, visit www.headwatersrcclub.org.

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