Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Radio Control Model Airfields

For the first time in 8 or 9 months, I was finally able to attend a WINGS Miniature Aircraft Society club meeting. Currently, I am not a member of that club due to my current finical status, but I got to touch base with some old friends and to find out what is going on.

The subject of how to attract new members came up and by extension, a discussion on trying to get another field here in Lubbock, Texas, set up. Currently, WINGS MAS has an agreement with Abernathy, Texas; to operate off of that town's small airport runway. The club has put in taxiways and a ramp west of the north-south runway. By the way, the flying site is approximately 4 miles East of the city of Abernathy, Texas on FM2060 at the Abernathy Municipal Airport.

Also, Abernathy is still a functional airport, but with low useage. The few pilots who park their full-scale aircraft out there don't even live in the city of Abernathy.

Link below is to the WINGS MAS website and more information can be gained there.

Lubbock, Texas has another flying site out near Reese Technology Center locally known as the "FM-179" site since its right off Farm Market Road 179. Officially, its a city party of Lubbock named after Col. Davis who was a pilot in the Korean war.

What I took away from that discussion was the need for a small flying site - visible to the public - but not in such a way that can cause a safety issue. FM 179 is just hanging on life support right now since alot of new homes have be built out there. As soon as the cotton field to the north of the airstrip is purchased, that pretty much kills off that site for radio control flight for the nitro/gas power models. Model Helicopters can still fly out there and of course electric models. There is also a grass area that is set up for control line model flying.

On You Tube, I came across this video of a Hangar 9 B-25 Maiden Flight that was filmed at Scobee Field in Houston,Texas. (see embedded video with this article). This size and set up our club would love to have here in Lubbock (or Lubbock County). In fact, I think ten years ago - we as a club were hoping to make FM179 into such a flying site when the opportunity to fly off of Reese Technology Center came up and FM179 improvement plans were set aside when that happened.

The drive to Abernathy take an extra ten minutes than a drive out to FM 179 (or to Reese Technology Center when we were able to fly off that former airbase runways). That extra ten minute drive appears to be some straw that is breaking a lot of club members' backs. I personally have to plan trips out there as if I was taking a cross country trip due to the current cost of fuel. And when I go out, I do not have a plane to fly once I do get out there. That's just makes me a watcher.

That extra ten minute drive means that its harder to plan on having a quick evening flight after putting in a hard day at work. I for one do not know the answer to these questions. Nationally, there is a problem I'm told of attracting new people into the hobby. Why join the AMA and pay club dues when I can fly my super cheap Wal-Mart special out in the park?

Well, I think that the AMA and Radio Control model clubs are for those individuals who want to "go beyond" the Wal-Mart specials. To go on to something like flying a big pattern airplane. To fly a scale model and go to Top Gun. To get into actual turbine jet models.

UPDATE: I posted this blog early this morning. I now have had all day at work to think back over it some. With 20/20 hindsight, I think I can say that Reese Technology Center was the best thing that ever happened to this club - and the worst.

Nothing can compare to a two mile long, 150 foot wide strip of concrete to play with. Lubbock (as of 2 years ago) has no piece of land that (WINGS MAS could use in my opinion), isn't flawed in a major way that will hamper flight operations. There is land to the east of the city, but that puts it near the feedlots (good strong east wind can ruin a picnic), plus it would be under the flight path to Lubbock International Airport to the north, or Town and Country Airport to the south of the city. Both airports are east of the Interstate.

Land west of the interstate the further away one gets just gets even more expensive. Even if the club had a rich sugar daddy and momma to buy a section of land with protected land for our models to fly over, housing developments just keeps on growing southwest of the city. The town of Wolfforth, Texas is a true suburb of Lubbock now. The city limits of Lubbock extend right up to the city limits of Wolfforth. Good land there - just cannot afford to buy it as individual citizens.

So - we have the old rock and a hard place. Like I stated above, I do not have the answers to this problem. But I hope that some can come up with one.

Ref. WINGS (
Picture of rc model of F-4 Phantom II from websearch.

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