Community collaboration resulted in a local remote control model airplane club having a runway redone at very little cost.
The Seymour Parks and Recreation Department, including Chad Keithley, Harry Taylor, Kerry Bevers and Rick Cockerham, spent part of one day last week prepping the soil for reseeding a 50-by-500-foot grass runway.
United Granulation Services of Seymour donated 400 pounds of fertilizer, which was put down by Brownstown Central High School FFA members Macey Stuckwisch, Abby Stuckwisch, Brocker Bottorff, Tim Edwards, Daniel Weiler, Cody Burnside, Keaton Weber, Jared Thomas and Kyle Eglen and Adviser Blake Hackman.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
The FFA members also seeded the ground and put down straw, which was donated by Bob Stuckwisch.
Jackson-Washington Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kurt Fenneberg watered down the seed and straw.
The only expense for the Southern Indiana Flying Eagles was purchasing 250 pounds of seed from Brownstown Hardware.
If not for the donations of labor and materials, the club would have spent a few thousand dollars out of pocket.
“The city and the airport have been very, very supportive of us. They have been from Day 1,” said Bob Bast, treasurer of the model airplane club. “People come from distance, and when we tell them what the airport and the city does for us, they can’t believe it. It’s just amazing.”
In 2017, Freeman Municipal Airport put down an asphalt runway for the club to use. It used to be the airport’s taxiway.
Next to it is the grass runway. Bast said besides field marshal Jim Worthington mowing the runway, it hasn’t been touched in 50 years.
“For the bigger warbirds that these guys are flying, you get these sharp dips in there,” Bast said. “For the smaller planes, it doesn’t hurt, and a bunch of them were flying over on the other side (of the asphalt runway), which was actually the ultralight runway. Then we moved all of our stands way out, so the consensus was we want to be on this side.”
Bast said the club tried patching the grass runway a few times, but members agreed something needed to be done so it would last for many years.
“We said, ‘We’re not putting a Band-Aid on it. If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right,’” he said of initiating the field improvement project.
The recent work took out the bumps and leveled the grass runway.
Bast said that’s a big benefit because one time, the landing gear of a man’s plane was torn off after hitting a dip when landing.
“This will make it probably not exactly like the asphalt, but it will be very smooth out there,” he said.
The parks department crew used a piece of equipment that took up 4 inches of grass and flipped it so dirt was on top. Bast said that resulted in less settling time for the ground to be seeded.
“Their time frame was somewhat limited because they’ve got events at the ballparks through the first of October,” he said of the parks workers. “Mother Nature has cooperated because they can’t do that when it’s wet.”
Southern Indiana Flying Eagles has been around for more than 60 years, and its flying field has moved from Freeman Field to Brownstown to Freetown over the years.
Then about 15 years ago, Bast said they moved back to Freeman Field behind the National Guard Armory. Then the Seymour Department of Public Works moved its facility there seven years ago, so the airport has leased the current site in the 1200 block of A Avenue North since then for $1 a year.
The club has about 30 members and is open to all ages. It’s $50 for an annual membership, and the Academy of Model Aeronautics has a $75 annual fee. The latter is required to fly at the club’s field for insurance purposes.
Members meet there in the warm months and at the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour over the winter. They also host events open to the public, but those have been canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The club has members with model airplanes and helicopters and drones, so it’s whatever they want to fly, Bast said.
“You can build airplanes from a kit or you can order them,” he said. “You can get them at the house, open the package, put the battery on charge and take it out to the field to fly it — instant gratification.”
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
The Southern Indiana Flying Eagles remote control model airplane club’s flying field is in the 1200 block of A Avenue North in the Freeman Field Industrial Park in Seymour.
Mark Cottey is president, Russ Kuhn is vice president, Dale Drew is secretary, Bob Bast is treasurer, John Hudak is safety officer and Jim Worthington is field marshal.
The club is open to all ages. It’s $50 for an annual membership, and the Academy of Model Aeronautics has a $75 annual fee.
Members meet at the flying field in the warm months and at the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour over the winter. They also host events open to the public.
The club has members with model airplanes and helicopters and drones.
For information about the club, call Bob Bast at 812-216-3999.
For information about the AMA, call 765-287-1256 or visit modelaircraft.org.