In The Air
Flying fields are as fragile as spring blossoms.
Regular readers of this column will recall last month’s missive where I told the story of the emotional rollercoaster I had been on regarding the Col de Costco. That’s my favourite slope which backs onto — you guessed it — a local mall smack in the middle of an industrial area in southeast Calgary, Alberta (see Resources below for a link to that article). Good storytelling dictates that each story should have an arc. That one certainly did, starting with the belief that I had just been thrown off the site through to figuring out the future of this particular location was actually fairly bright.
However, I have been corresponding with a good friend of this publication, Gary Quiring of the Eutawville Flyers in South Carolina and the news from there is not so good. I first made contact with Gary when he submitted one of the most beautifully composed pictures I had seen in quite some time. We exchanged further notes where ideas as to how to grow the club were batted back and forth — at that time, there was only a handful of glider guiders in the Eutawville Flyers and combined with the pervasive demographic time-bomb which is going off in our hobby, that was not a recipe for continued vibrancy in the future. Then, on April 7th, Gary wrote with this rather ominous news:
“I got the bad news today that the new land owner is not willing to sit down and work some sort of deal to keep the flying field going. He’s letting the farmer take over the six acres we have. We don’t understand it, he gave us no chance to see who we were in the community and it’s very upsetting…”
This was particularly ironic, given the note I had written to Gary which elicited this response was whether he wanted to be in RCSD’s Club in Focus feature and on our Clubs page. So not news I was expecting by any stretch. In an effort to help, I suggested that perhaps we run the Club in Focus feature anyway with the footnote of “and by the way, we’re looking for a new field!” Gary wrote back:
“I think looking for a new field is a lost cause with this club. Its size of 23 members where only four of them are actually active. Most of these guys are approaching 80 years of age and Gene, my best flying buddy is 86. We were still flying at Eutawville until about two weeks ago when we came out and the farmer put down something that killed the grass. So the fat lady has sung. It’s over…”
Fortunately, Gary has found another place to fly — the Bowman Club — where he is also a member, but it’s a one hour drive from where he lives, and the membership over there is not too glider-oriented. So a less than ideal outcome for him for sure.
If that wasn’t bad enough, there was another very similar story at around the same time, involving a flying field a little closer to the New RCSD home office. The following was received from the local Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) Zone Director, to say:
“Please be advised that LARCS (Leduc Alberta Radio Control Society) have lost their flying field effective midnight last night, April 27, 2022. There is to be no flying at the site effective immediately. Started in August 1993 [29 years! — Ed.] the club has grown from an initial 10 members to 105 members as of today’s date. The search for a new flying field is currently underway….the reason for the sale of the land which our flying field…[it] was sold just over a month ago. The new owner had no desire to carry on renting the flying field site…”
And then there was Chris Williams’ Flying Back in Time story in the March, 2022 issue of the New RCSD which kicked off with:
“The military base of Middle Wallop in Southern England is reputed to be the largest grass aerodrome in Europe. For over a decade the UK scale soaring fraternity enjoyed many, many aerotows on this site, before a change of base priorities sadly bought it all to a close in 2019.”
These are all cautionary tales. However, anecdotally at least, what leaves me with a sinking feeling is all of these clubs, seemingly trying to do all the right things, were still tossed out on their keisters with virtually no notice. What’s more, there’s a foreboding sense these clubs could not have done anything differently which would have made any difference to the end result.
Here’s one thing that doesn’t really need to be stated — but I’ll state it anyway: we should always have in the back of our collective minds that our ability to pursue this thing we love to do quite often depends on the good graces of others over whom we have virtually no leverage. If there is anything we can do — or perhaps stop doing? — to remain in said good graces, we should never miss an opportunity to do that. We operate almost entirely at their pleasure.
In an admittedly roundabout kind of way, to me it’s similar to paving over farmland for a new shopping mall. The original sin of having lost the farmland in the first place is multiplied many times over by the fact that there is virtually no set of circumstances which will result in the shopping mall eventually being torn down and the farmland restored.
Like the spring blossom, once it’s gone, it’s gone. There’s no bringing it back.
New Audio Content: Soaring the Sky Podcast
One of the commitments I made heading into this publishing year was to provide a variety of new and interesting ways of delivering soaring-related content to New RCSD readers. These efforts have borne fruit, and the proof is starting this month, we are featuring selected episodes from the Soaring the Sky podcast, hosted by Chuck Fulton.
Before anyone jumps on that and says “hey, wait a sec, that’s about full-size gliders, not RC!”, let me just say this: I know. But I’m also of the belief that there are a ton of episodes in Chuck’s vast back catalogue which have a lot of crossover appeal for an RC audience and where the subject matter has not dated.
To wit, the first episode in this month’s issue features an extensive interview with Dominic Poppe, a full-size glider pilot and project manager of the Akaflieg Karlsruhe’s AK-X flying wing project. What’s really interesting is that the decision was made to run this inaugural episode before I learned that the AK-X was developed in part through the use of a half-scale, RC prototype. Kismet! It was like it was meant to be.
I want to thank Chuck for his enthusiastic embrace of this idea. Our brief and amicable ‘negotiations’ were underpinned by the notion the most likely and happy outcome was more listeners for him and more readers for RCSD. Everybody wins.
We’re going to continue to search for other podcasts which might also fit this brief, along with other types of material in novel formats. The team and I will continue to build the New RCSD into the place to go for a rich and varied mix of material related to efficient flight. Please let me know what you think!
And on with the Show!
As usual, I have likely overstayed my welcome with my ramblings, so I’ll not delay your diving into the June, 2022 issue any further. Other than to say that I really think there is something for everybody enclosed herein. And to also say that without our contributors, we would have nothing for you to read, and without our readers — well, that’s a future simply too bleak to contemplate. So my many thanks and deepest gratitude to both constituencies.
Until next month, fair winds and blue skies.
- Grafas MAXI — From the Topmodel CZ website: “Light thermic electric glider for competitions flying F5J. Wingspan 3.52m…”
- In The Air: RC soaring is not a crime. — Last month’s In The Air: “There’s a Costco big box store not too far from where I live which stands just east of a great slope that runs due north and south for about two or three city blocks…”
- In The Air: We belong to a very exclusive club. That is not the good thing we might think it is. — You have to see Gary Quiring’s photo which headlined this article: it’s one of the most beautifully composed that we have seen and yet Gary claims it was an accident. We’re sure he’s being too modest.
- Club in Focus: Southwest Soaring Society — The most recent example of this feature: “The home of SWSS is set amongst the hills and desert near Maricopa, Arizona and is newly formed…”
- Clubs — “This is our just-launched list of clubs featured in our ongoing series of articles which are intended to raise interest in, and awareness of local grassroots RC soaring clubs…”
- Flying Back In Time — Chris Williams’ accidental requiem for Middle Wallop: “I would imagine it to be highly unlikely that 2015 will have gone down in anyone’s diary as a premium flying year…”
- How to Create Great RC Soaring Videos — Raymond Esveldt’s excellent video covering ways to improve your filmmaking, and where this month’s cover photo first appeared.
Cover photo: The outstanding photo which graces our cover this month is by Raymond Esveldt, and he provided the following comments:
“On probably the best thermally active field in the country I wanted to test how high I dared to go with my 1/4-scale 6.6m HKM Nimbus 4. I did reach a relative altitude of 600 meters, but even my big bird shrunk to a very small speck in the sky. Hardly being comfortable anymore I touched the 600 meter mark and made my way down again. I could just have used my airbrakes, but that wouldn’t be much fun, would it? Better use all sticks on the way down.”
This picture first appeared in Raymond’s excellent article entitled How to Create Great RC Soaring Videos. You are welcome to download the June cover in a resolution suitable for computer monitor wallpaper (2560x1440).