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Annual remote control flea market sees surge in interest

  • A pilot figurine inside a model of a Cesna 310 airplane at the RC flea market at Franklin County Technical School Saturday, April 29, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • A pilot figurine inside a model RC airplane owned by Dave Matlasz of Chicopee, at the RC flea market at Franklin County Technical School Saturday, April 29, 2017. The figurine is wearing a piece of fabric from the headband worn by an actual pilot. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • A woman leaves the RC flea market at Franklin County Technical School with a radio-controlled boat Saturday, April 29, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Radio-controlled airplanes at the RC flea market at Franklin County Technical School Saturday, April 29, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • George Brankman, of Hoosac Falls, NY, talks to a visitor to the RC flea market at Franklin County Technical School Saturday, April 29, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Published: 4/29/2017 5:57:32 PM

TURNERS FALLS — As David Korpiewski watched over his table of remote control planes, customers regularly stepped up to peruse his collection, seeming to always address him by name.

The sixth annual Giant Western Massachusetts Remote Control Flea Market, held Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Franklin County Technical School, attracted a close-knit community of hobbyists that came from across New England.

“We kind of all know each other here,” said Korpiewski, president of the Franklin County Radio Control Club which organizes the flea market each year.

The more than 40-year-old club, an Academy of Model Aeronautics chartered club with 25 current members, promotes the use of remote control planes, drones, helicopters, combat wings or anything that will fly under radio control. The clubhouse, located at the Turners Falls Airport, has the only geotextile runway within 200 miles, Korpiewski said, and hosts drone racing, combat nights where members compete to cut streamers with wings, and general flying on Sundays.

Filling a need

Noticing a lack of remote control flea markets in the area after one held in Vernon, Conn. ceased, Korpiewski said the club decided six years ago to offer its own, bringing hobbyists together over an eclectic variety of remote control craft including planes, boats, helicopters and cars.

Though it attracts familiar faces, the flea market also garners new interest every year, Korpiewski said, and sometimes leads the club to gain new members.

“This is our biggest one ever,” he said, observing the 40 tables of items, an increase from the usual 25. “We’ve never filled the room and had to bring in extra tables … It also means our hobby is still kicking.”

Hobby misconceptions

Those not involved in the hobby often think, Korpiewski said, it’s expensive to get involved in, costing thousands of dollars, but some planes were for sale at the flea market for just $80 or $100.

“It’s a stigma I’ve been trying to kill for years,” he said, hoping to increase involvement.

Another misconception, he continued, is that “drones are going to take over” the hobby, but “there’s no drones here, it’s airplanes,” Korpiewski observed.

For flying and fun

For both Korpiewski and club Vice President Ted Toothaker, collecting remote control aircraft started with their fathers, becoming a hobby passed down through the family. In fact, Korpiewski’s two sons, 11-year-old David and 8-year-old Michael, are also collectors.

Korpiewski’s collection, which now consists of 40 remote control planes and some drones spread throughout his garage, his basement and a trailer, all started in 2006 with one plane his wife bought for him.

“I had to keep flying it again and again,” he said. “I was hooked instantly.”

Korpiewski sees the hobby as a way to challenge himself, performing “more extreme aerobatics than most people do.”

“Pushing the envelope is where you learn new things and gain new skills,” he said.

Plus, the remote control planes aren’t just functional, but their striking colors make them visually appealing to admire, Korpiewski said.

For Toothaker, his collection of six or seven remote control planes gives him a chance to disconnect from the outside world for a moment, to focus on one thing: flying.

“Drowning everything out while flying something is kind of nice,” he explained.

But more than that, Toothaker said, the hobby offers “a community of good friends and good people,” offering an invaluable combination of friends, flying and fun.

You can reach Shelby Ashline at:

413-772-0261 ext. 257


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