Local News

Longtime club off to a flying start at new site

By From page A1 | May 14, 2013

Lou Fox, left, and John Eaton, president of the Woodland Davis Aeromodelers, check out model jets on the tarmac at the club's new flying site on County Road 29, 1.3 miles east of Road 102. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo


What: Woodland Davis Aeromodelers’ open house and field dedication

When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, with a free pancake breakfast preceding the open house at 8 a.m.

Where: Flying field on County Road 29, 1.3 miles east of County Road 102

Info: www.wdarc.org

Just as the flight of a model aircraft is subject to the wind that carries it, the Woodland Davis Aeromodelers have changed venues by the will of exterior forces.

But that has yet to dampen the passion for small-scale flying machines that fuels this group, which has grown in membership since 1970 to its current roster of 150 local hobbyists.

Since the club’s formation, the remote-control aircraft pilots have sought a new base of operation on three separate occasions. The most recent was in 2011, when the club abandoned Mavis Henson Field, on County Road 102 in Woodland, after 20 years there.

The Woodland City Council gave them just enough time to secure a different location, after residential development brought a host of noise complaints. Before that, they had to vacate a Davis flying site that was taken over by expansion of a solar power plant.

“However, good things always do seem to come from bad things,” said Lou Fox, a member of the Woodland Davis Aeromodelers. He believes the club’s newest site along County Road 29 northeast of Davis trumps previous flying field locations.

The noisy buzzing of the small planes’ motors are an annoyance to no one now, as the field is settled where only cows can hear the daily soaring of the club’s both amateur and professional aviators.

That’s good news, considering that not long ago the 40-year-old organization had contemplated disbanding if a suitable site for its activities could not be found.

John Eaton, president of the club and a main contributor to development of the new location, said he’s looking forward to returning to the group’s main objective: bringing the community together to have fun.

“Like right now, I’m teaching a 10-year-old from Davis how to fly these things,” he said, “and he’s just as excited as can be. It’s a great learning experience for him. He’s learning things about aerodynamics.

“You can tell he has benefited from computer games. These kids that do that and come out to do this are way ahead of us, even those such as myself, who knew how to fly full-scale planes.”

Eaton explained that there’s much crossover between piloting an aircraft and then maneuvering its smaller, model-sized equivalent. Strangely enough, he said there is some transference the other way.

Whether or not the young locals who are learning to weave their model aircraft through the Davis skies become full-fledged pilots, they’re definitely bound for a lesson in finality.

“There’s no reset button,” Eaton said. “If you crash, you either have to go back to sitting on the bench or buy another (plane). That’s a different experience than people often get now.”

But crashes are something model aircraft devotees would rather not discuss, he added with a laugh. And there’s no blaming them, considering that the price of some of the model planes flown by members tops $1,000.

“It’s a serious hobby for some,” Eaton said. “But there’s actually a lot of people who just want to come out and try it for fun, and fly a little inexpensive airplane around.”

Those in the latter group will be interested in Saturday’s open house, which starts with a free pancake breakfast at 8 a.m., then features flight demonstrations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. of propeller planes, jets, helicopters, gliders and aircraft tethered to 60-foot lines.

Community members also will have an opportunity to actually fly a radio-control aircraft at the event. And don’t worry, there’s a safety net for first-timers.

“There’s dual controls, so that if something happens during the flight, the instructor can take over and get it out of trouble,” Fox said. “Just like if you were flying a full-sized aircraft, it takes time to learn.”

The Woodland Davis Aeromodelers’ field is on County Road 29, 1.3 miles east of County Road 102. Food and drinks will be available. For more information and directions, visit www.wdarc.org.

— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett

Brett Johnson

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