Airplanes will soon be arriving in an unlikely spot in Reedsburg – a spot without runways.
It will happen during the Reedsburg Area Flyers’ Winter Expo. Members of the group will be flying into the Reedsburg Recreation Center – but with planes in hand. It’s the Radio-Controlled Airplane Show, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 15 in the center, which is located in the basement of City Hall at 134 S. Locust St.; entrance is from Vine Street.
“This is something we started doing a few years ago. I think this is our fifth,” said Stephen Kroon, Reedsburg Flyers president. “It’s just a precursor for the upcoming flying season. Generally in the wintertime we don’t get much flying opportunity.”
The club likes to meet to display their equipment, presenting their planes to the general public. Visitors can talk to the members about the hobby or the club, and find out what is involved, Kroon said.
Everyone is welcome to come to the expo, which is free. In addition to a wide variety of radio-controlled airplanes on display, club members will also feature radio gear and model building techniques. Anyone who wants to try flying a radio-controlled plane can use flight-simulator software on site. Real Flight Simulator is a computer program that mimics the activity of a radio-controlled airplane. Users control the software with a regular airplane control, with the computer reacting to their input.
“They’re a lot of fun,” Kroon said. “You can play with a lot of different aircraft styles. Most flight simulators have tons of different airplane styles you can try — from helicopters to jets.”
Usually the club raffles off a magazine subscription to a school, but is upping the ante this year. One student will win a personal magazine subscription, membership to the Flyers and membership to the national organization — the Academy of Model Aeronautics. The Flyers hope interested students will come out to their field a few times over the summer. They want to help perpetuate the hobby.
The Flyers have an airplane field with a shelter and fight stations about 5 miles east of Reedsburg at E8784A Wis. Road 23. They sometimes hold open-house events for the public, but they also welcome visitors any time a member is out flying, Kroon said. The field is also used to by Boy Scouts or 4-H members launching model rockets.
Members in the Flyers Club range from middle school to retirement age. No experience is needed; club members will be happy teach new members the basics of getting started, Kroon said. A buddy box system is used to train new pilots, where a master pilot and a trainer pilot use a control box. The master pilot only needs to flip a switch to gain control of the plane.
While many people enjoy building planes from scratch or using a kit, planes are available that require little to no assembly. Kroon said he enjoys flying glider planes, but club members have a variety of preferences.
“We’ve got a couple of guys in the club who are more into helicopters,” he said. “We got gliders and there’s a category you call scale-model or airplanes modeled after real airplanes. We also have more acrobatic ones called profile models that do things most real airplanes wouldn’t.”
Everyone in the club has been a beginner at one point, Kroon said. After the upcoming show he hopes the club will have a few more beginners.
“If they have any curiosity at all about the hobby — or the club — this day would be a great opportunity to come and see firsthand what it is,” he said. “Come talk to some of the pilots, look at some equipment and just learn what it’s about.”