21Country: Fort Wayne Flight Tours

NEW HAVEN, Ind. (WPTA21) – Despite looming storms on Saturday, dozens of cars waited out the downpour in the Fort Wayne Flying Circuits headquarters parking lot near Webster Road in New Haven. As the sun began to break through the clouds and the rain subsided, anxious remote control (RC) pilots began to emerge, ready to begin their delayed morning. After the national anthem, the track quickly became a bustling hub of activity.

“I started flying planes when I was 14,” club chairman Shane Reinhart told us. “Life moves on, you get married. I finally came back to it once you know, the kids have grown up and moved on, and you have more free time. It has been part of the Fort Wayne flying tours for fifteen years. But that’s only a small part of the club’s history. It started in 1951, founded by eight people. It operates as an Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) charter club, in Muncie. You will find a unique mix of aircraft, which includes planes, jets and helicopters, powered by electricity and gasoline. “You can easily find your niche,” Reinhart added. “I mean some people like to fly with the little moss. Some people like to grow up on bigger, more expensive planes. But like I said, you can start this hobby for $120-$250, which gives you a perfect trainer that you can fly with an instructor and gain confidence easily.

Ron Goodyear is one of the oldest active members of the club. He joined in 1991. “I’ve been interested in aviation since grade 4,” he says. “I too am a full-scale pilot. I fly real planes…it’s a way to do it a lot cheaper, and do it with more people around and enjoy the hobby with it. Goodyear even explains that it is sometimes more difficult to fly an RC plane than to fly it. “Every time the plane turns towards you, everything is the opposite,” he continued. “If you’re sitting in it, you can feel it. You don’t have to think of them as opposing controls.

Member Carlos Gomez has also flown just about every type of aircraft. To keep his interest in the hobby, he started creating 3D printed airplanes. He has a biplane, gliders, and even one in the shape of an eagle. While some pilots put close to $10,000 on a single plane, Gomez spends far less, paying only for design files, plastics and engines. “I have a few planes that will do over 100 miles per hour that are 3D printed,” he explained. “There really are no limits, except for the heat. You leave a plane in a car on a hot day, and it will melt the car. You need to be very careful about the temperature of where you keep your plains.

“These are definitely not made for impact. When you land hard — or in other words, crash, it’s about time to reprint,” Gomez explained. It’s okay, because it’s not like you’re doing a lot of work. Put the file in the computer, put it on the 3D printer, press the start button and go. Three hours later, the parts have been printed and you continue.

While many pilots practice formation flying together, another popular form of piloting often taps into the limb-destroying inner child. It’s a game they call ‘streamer combat’. Using cheap foam planes, the pilots try to use the propellers to cut the streamers off the tails. It’s quite a sight, watching dozens of small planes buzz around each other. Although the objective is innocent enough, some pilots hope to do more damage. One of Daryl Nicholson’s planes fell victim to the sport. “If someone takes out someone else, they put a target on them,” he told us. “I have my eyes on two or three guys!” Most of the time, the replacement tape and foam will make their planes ready to fly again. “It started, at first we were just going to cut the ribbons,” Goodyear said. “And then it’s kind of like, if you crash, there’s kind of a ‘wow’ factor.”

Members of Fort Wayne Flight Tours can fly on their land at any time. But newcomers must become members and undergo training to become AMA certified. Most pilots who fly are more than happy to share their hobby with new people. “We all love our inner childhood. We appreciate that so much, if there’s an opening, we’ll fly,” Reinhart told us. The public is, however, invited and welcome to watch at any time. Although six years in the world of RC planes, Nicholson offers them this advice: “I’ll warn you – it’s very addictive. Before you know it, you’ll start with one or two planes, or like me, you could end up with fifty. You can find more information about Fort Wayne Flight Tours and upcoming events here.

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