By Brian Freiberger
It was a calm July evening at Kline’s Resort. An RAF Mosquito, a British two-engine fighter-bomber, was flying overhead. Its altitude: about 50 feet. Wing span: about two yards. On the ground below, Ron Jones was controlling the battery-powered scale model aircraft on its maiden voyage.
A group of residents at the resort buy and assemble remote controlled (RC) airplanes just to see them soar for a few hours on a calm night. Although there are six or seven residents of the resort flying on some nights, just three, Robert Barton, Darrell Davis and Jones, were flying on this night while smiling, laughing and shooting the breeze.
“When I have that plane in the sky all of my thoughts are with the plane. All that white noise from everything else in life is gone and it’s kind of therapy,” said Barton who has been living at Klines for the past 10 years.
Ken Allen, a retiree of Kal-Aero Flight Instruction in Portage, started the activity at Klines 12 years ago, according to Barton. Allen passed away in July. “If it wasn’t for Ken we wouldn’t be flying at all. Ken was the driving force behind the airfield,” said Davis who has been flying at Klines for the past two years. Klines has dedicated the five-acre field in memory of Allen.
There are thousands of different models of RC planes. Although many have been made from lightweight balsa wood, in the past decade many have been made out of foam. This has become more popular because foam is even lighter and more likely to crush instead of shattering, making for easier repairs of the aircraft.
Planes and accessories can range from $100 to $5,000 depending on size. The cost includes the pre-built aircraft with major components such as propellers, removable wings, and landing gear and accessories such as the batteries and radio equipment that controls the plane.
The Klines residents only fly with battery-powered planes. “It was important to Ken that we don’t use the field for gas-powered planes,” said Davis.
Davis, a retired Air Force sergeant, has been flying RC planes since 1976. “Staying in the proper perspective is the most difficult thing about flying these planes. You have to keep your eye on the plane at all times.” It is difficult to judge perspective because the pilot is on the ground instead of the cockpit, making it tough for pilots to see where they are going.
Jones talked about controlling the RAF Mosquito model aircraft. “You don’t know what it is going to do when it takes off.” After the plane landed Jones recalled shaking from the nervousness and excitement of its maiden voyage.
“When you get old you don’t realize how relaxing it is to be out here,” said Barton about the experience.