Franklin County Radio Control Club to host eighth annual Fun Fly, bringing dads and kids together

  • Franklin County Radio Control Club President Ted Toothaker (left) and Carl Miner watch as the AJ ARS 300 successfully takes its maiden flight at the Turners Falls Municipal Airport. Recorder Staff/CHRISTIE WISNIEWSKI

  • Franklin County Radio Control Club President Ted Toothaker (right) and Carl Miner prep the AJ ARS 300 for its maiden flight at the Turners Falls Municipal Airport. Recorder Staff/CHRISTIE WISNIEWSKI

  • The AJ ARS 300 sits following its maiden flight at Turners Falls Municipal Airport. Recorder Staff/CHRISTIE WISNIEWSKI

  • An Avister Elite remote control plane. Recorder Staff/CHRISTIE WISNIEWSKI

  • The AJ ARS 300 sits following its maiden flight at Turners Falls Municipal Airport. Recorder Staff/CHRISTIE WISNIEWSKI

  • A pilot figurine inside a model of a Cesna 310 airplane at the Franklin County Radio Control Club’s flea market in 2017. Recorder File Photo

  • At the Franklin County Radio Control Club’s Fun Fly at Turners Falls Airport, Mike Prosciak of Easthampton flies a model heliocopter. Recorder File Photo

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/15/2018 12:30:23 PM

When members of the Franklin County Radio Control Club talk about their hobby of flying model airplanes and other miniature aeronautic equipment, they compare it to the high-adrenaline activity of automobile racing.

It may not seem like the two are similar at first, but when you hear members of the FCRCC talk about it, it becomes easy to understand how the two parallel each other.

High speeds? Check. Fierce competition between fellow racers? Check. Intense focus? Check. Relaxation? ... Check?

“There are few things that shut my mind off — one thing is flying, the other is racing,” said FCRCC Vice President David Korpieski. “It’s a moment of complete focus. Problems at home don’t matter.”

“I’ve only come across a few things where I was purely focused and in a relaxed state. It drowns out some of those things like work nagging at you,” the club’s President Ted Toothaker agreed. “The only thing with as much focus that I’ve done is race on a racetrack.”

For FCRCC Security Officer Robert Rigby, the two hobbies are more than similar.

“I used to race motorcycles and it’s the same thing,” he said.

Then there are the tricks. Korpieski said model airplane flying takes him beyond the bounds of what the human body can do. His model planes can perform aeronautic feats of human physiological improbability such as rolls, corkscrews and pop tops — where the plane flies upside down before ascending abruptly and descending quickly right side-up.

“It takes a lot of skill,” Korpieski said. “These would kill a real pilot just by the G-force alone.”

But more than feats of speed, stunts and spectacle, the FCRCC has taken on a different mission: to create a tighter-knit community of flyers.

The Franklin County Radio Control Club is hosting its eighth annual Father’s Day Fun Fly at Turners Falls Municipal Airport on Sunday, June 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event is free to the public, with spectators welcome to watch the air acrobats. FCRCC members will be flying and members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics — the national association that oversees the club and many other model airplane flying groups across the nation — are invited to take part in the open flying event as well.

The event will feature flyers showing off a bevy of different miniature aircraft, from model planes and helicopters to drones. There will also be extreme combat flying and races, and special guest flyers, including national champion Dean Lampron, will be on hand to show off the many unique skills and abilities one can learn flying radio-controlled aircraft.

What may be most interesting though, is that “people can come and try their hand at flying,” Toothaker said.

Spectators can practice on a computer simulation, learning how to pilot a miniature aircraft. Once they are comfortable, those adventurous enough can try to fly a real-life craft through a “buddy box,” Toothaker said.

The buddy box works by having a training transmitter connected through a wire to a master transmitter. The training transmitter controls the aircraft, though it sends the information for the remote-controlled craft through the master, and the more experienced flyer can take control of the plane if necessary.

Hamburgers and hot dogs will be available for purchase, as well as raffle tickets.

Korpieski said Father’s Day was chosen due to the hobby’s popularity among men and an event like this allows fathers to “pass the craft” onto their children.

“Father’s Day was originally chosen and remains chosen because it is a day for fathers to be with their kids,” Korpieski said.

For Korpieski, that means getting all three of his children involved. His 14-year-old daughter, Grace, and 12-year-old son, Davy, are both involved with the Fun Fly. Grace operates the children’s table to get other children interested. And Korpieski’s 9-year-old son, Michael, is building a plane with his father now.

“Even in his car seat, (Michael) would watch us fly,” Korpieski said. “It’s been a part of his life since he was born.”

The Fun Fly first began in 2011, the year after Korpieski had become president, as a way to increase membership and interest.

Korpieski said membership had dwindled to six or seven members in 2010, with only two as active flying members, and their home airfield at Turners Falls Municipal Airport had become overwhelmed by vegetation and lack of care.

“The point was to introduce people to the hobby. It’s a false idea that it costs too much to get into,” he said.

And it worked.

Korpieski said the first year, the group saw “way more people than expected” show up to the event, and by the following Tuesday, 14 people showed up to the group’s regularly-scheduled meeting wanting to learn more about flying. Now, the group has grown almost four times larger, with 23 members, 20 of which are actively flying.

Since the inaugural Father’s Day Fun Fly, the event has drawn between 500 and 700 people annually, Korpieski said, and in 2012 the event drew over 1,000 attendees.

But what it all comes down to is the thrill and the hobby, which Korpieski hopes spectators will enjoy as well.

“What you can do with some these airplanes is just amazing,” Korpieski said. “Every single day, I could fly.”

For information on the Franklin County Radio Control Club, visit FranklinRC.com, or find them on Facebook by searching for “FCRCC — Franklin County Radio Control Club.” New and prospective members are welcome.

Staff reporter Dan Desrochers has worked at the Greenfield Recorder since February 2018. He covers Greenfield. He can be reached at: ddesrochers@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 257.




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