Radio-control flyers came from as far as Grand Forks, N.D. to participate in a local Fun Fly Saturday and Sunday west of Park Rapids.
Jerry Thomas of Park Rapids, president of the Headwaters Radio Control Flying Club, said the club’s annual Fun Fly has been going on for at least 20 years.
“This is actually good weather,” he said Saturday. “It’s a little windy for some.”
Thomas estimated 100 people came to the Fun Fly on Saturday, with 24 of them registering to fly. The event continued with a half-day on Sunday.
According to contest director Dick Reich, only about a third of the participants were members of the local club, with others coming from as far away as Alexandria, Fargo and Grand Forks.
Thomas said the radio control club’s airfield, south of State Hwy. 34 on County 109 in Todd Township, was given to the club many years ago by the owner of an adjacent farm.
“It’s a great field,” he said. “We’ve got plenty of space.”
Reich said the club reports to the Academy of Model Aeronautics, which provides flying insurance, safety rules and rules for contests and races.
Apart from some prize drawings, this weekend’s event was a non-competitive affair. “It’s just a fun fly,” said Reich. “We’re out here for two days, and people come out and watch us. Maybe somebody might get some interest in flying.”
“There are some good flyers, both with the helicopters and with the planes,” added Thomas. “Very good.”
Several groups who traveled to the event brought campers and ice houses to stay overnight and take part in both days.
“I’ve been with this club, not a member but an active participant, well over 15 years,” said Pete Ferguson of Wadena.
He explained the variety of types of radio-controlled flying machines – from 3D models that can hover to scale models of actual planes, sport models to war birds, electric planes to gasoline engines.
“That was a nitro plane that I converted to electric,” said Ferguson, pointing out one of his planes. He said he is also working on getting his license to fly full-scale airplanes.
Andrew Ochoa of Fargo came to the Fun Fly with six or seven electric planes. He said he has been interested in radio-controlled flying “as long as I can remember. My dad and my Uncle Scott were into it around the time I was born. They did it the old school way, and they always brought me. It was fun to do ... I wanted to keep doing it.”
Ochoa noted that radio-control aviators used to have to build their own planes, but now they can buy them almost ready to fly. “If anything, you put the wings on and maybe part of the tail section, and that’s pretty much it. It’s easier than ever to get into it, and every day it gets easier, too – the technology. It’s so simple. There’s simulators. There’s wireless training systems.”
Orvin Fossen of Pelican Rapids said he has been messing with planes for more than 40 years. A member of the Perham Screaming Eagles radio control club, he also flies control-line aircraft with the Fargo Moorhead Skylarks club.
He said flying was great at this weekend’s Fun Fly. “A lot of good camaraderie with a lot of our pilots here.”
Wayne Adams of East Grand Forks said he has been flying radio-control planes for five years. “It’s a great hobby. It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “I like the speed.”
Regarding the Headwaters club’s patch of ground, he added, “It’s a very nice field.”
“The Park Rapids club puts out a very fun event,” said participant David Tsen of Fargo, N.D. “They really do put in a lot of work.”
Rumors were circulating at the airfield that whether there will be a Fun Fly next year is “up in the air,” no pun intended. Nevertheless, Thomas said, “It’ll be here.”