Local model airplane club hosts fly-in


The Southern Indiana Flying Eagles was cleared for takeoff this past weekend when hosting a fly-in event for model remote-controlled airplane enthusiasts.

From Friday to Sunday, people who build and fly model airplanes were able to bring their projects to the club’s field, located near the north/south runway at Freeman Municipal Airport in Seymour.

Typically, the event would be a scale meet, which is a national competition where those flying are attempting to qualify for the Academy of Model Aeronautics’ final competition in Muncie. Participants would be judged based on how accurately and detailed the plane is built and how well it is flown.

The AMA events, however, were canceled because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the Seymour-based group decided to host its own noncompetitive flying event.

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The Flying Eagles, which is a charter member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, sought to bring together hobbyists from not just around the state but around the country. Participants traveled to Seymour from states like Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky and Alabama. 

Dave Raketin of Brownstown said people travel great distances to events like these because of their dedication to the hobby.

“We were very surprised people were willing to travel that far just for a fun fly. It’s just the love of the hobby. It gets to be a bug,” he said.

For the club’s vice president, Russ Kuhn of Seymour, model planes have always been a part of his life.

“I think I was probably born with it because my dad was into model airplanes back when they would do freeflys, where you just start them up, let them go and chase them,” he said.

He began building and flying in the hobby in the 1970s as radio control technology became more reliable. 

"Before that, RC was kind of a hit or miss thing," he said.

For Raketin, his interest in the hobby began in 1983. During his time building and flying, he has seen technology dramatically change the landscape of the hobby.

Remote-controlled airplanes at these events come in many shapes, sizes and build types.

Some planes are powered by a fuel mixture called glow, some use gasoline like a car and newer planes are purely electric. 

In recent years, innovations like electric planes and almost ready to fly planes, or planes that come out of the box with minimal building required, have made this hobby more accessible for casual flyers.

“That has advanced the hobby dramatically,” Raketin said.

Some planes are made out of heavier materials like wood; however, in recent years, foam planes have emerged as a commonly flown option because of their inexpensive nature and durability.

"Those things can take one heck of a beating," Raketin said.

While some of the more customized and extravagant builds can cost pilots upwards of $5,000, a foam ARF can be ready to fly with an investment of under $500.

As the hobby grows, so do the Flying Eagles.

For Kuhn, joining a club like the Flying Eagles helped him to further enjoy flying.

“There are a lot of advantages to being in a club," he said. "First of all, you’re in a group with people that have the same interests that you do and they’ll help you out. If you’ve got a problem or you need a bolt or a screw, somebody probably has it out here. There’s also a lot of camaraderie and friendship.”

Raketin said he has met some great people through flying with the club.

“It’s a lot of fun, and the people you meet are just super,” he said. 

Beyond growing the hobby, Kuhn said the club would like to bolster its involvement with local communities. 

For last winter’s Jackson County Cold Night Out Shelter, the club provided donations and food for the homeless. This fall, a local FFA chapter will be working with the club to clear out a new grass runway next to its pavement runway donated to them by Freeman Municipal Airport.

“That’s kind of the goal of the club, community involvement,” Kuhn said.

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