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Remote control enthusiasts take off at Ogle County Airport

Whether zipping past spectators at high speeds or hovering in the air, pilots at the Ogle County Airport put on a show over the weekend.

These pilots were not flying regular planes however. What they were flying were remote controlled (RC) model airplanes July 12-13.

"These model airplanes average 50 to 60 miles per hour but the high performance planes are pushing 100 miles per hour and there is one plane here today that can go 140," said Ed Scherer, Belvidere, president of the Rock Valley RC Flyers Club.

Model airplane enthusiasts had a variety of models on display both on the ground and in the air.

"Flying these model planes is a throwback to when I was 10," said Scherer.

The plane he was working on is considered an ARF.

"It is an Almost Ready to Fly model," he said. "This type of model takes two or three nights to build, but some planes are ready to fly and others are bigger and take two months or more to build."

Different models range in price from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, Scherer said.

"The best way to get into model airplanes is to contact one of these clubs here today," he said. "The Freeport Modelers set up today's event and they hold training events. My club also has training days."

During training, an instructor will have the master remote control and the student will have a tethered remote.

"This is a buddy box," said Scherer. "The pilot can regain control instantly to correct mistakes. It is a great way to learn about RC planes without worrying about crashing the plane."

Scherer joked that "it is not a matter of if you are going to crash your model plane, but when are you going to crash," but some of this risk goes away when learning with the buddy box for the first few flights.

He said training days allow someone to try flying a model plane without the expense of purchasing a kit.

"See if you like it before buying your first plane," said Scherer. "A big mistake people make is buying a plane that looks cool but is hard to fly. In this hobby you need to crawl before you can walk."

Larry Calkins, Sterling, a member of the Morrison Model Aircraft Flyers, said it can take a month of practice to get comfortable flying a model plane.

"The more practice you can get the better you will be at flying," said Calkins. "After a month you can solo most planes, but take your time and ask questions."

The Midwest RC Roundup was hosted by the Freeport Radio Control Modelers Club, Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) Charter 253.

They were joined by members of the Morrison Model Aircraft Flyers and Rock Valley RC Flyers Club.

These three clubs all have websites with contact information about training and other club events.

"Once you learn to fly, you can get into park flyers that can be flown over a ball field for about $200," said Scherer. "If you join a club, all the members are helpful and can answer questions."

One of the larger planes at the Midwest RC Roundup was a model of a Stearman Model 75 Biplane.

The model is owned by Calkins, Sterling, but was being flown by the Morrison Model Aircraft Flyers club president Darryl Miller.

"I built this model kit over 11 years on and off," said Calkins. "I would guess it would have taken two years to make if it was being worked on regularly."

Calkins said the model flies well, but it is an advanced plane.

"I have someone fly it for me," he said. "This plane was a Christmas present and I like to build planes."

One treat for Calkins was seeing a full-size Stearman Model 75 at the airport.

"There is a real Stearman trainer in that hanger," said Calkins. "I took a photo of my model with the full-size plane."

The Ogle County Airport allowed the clubs ample space to fly their models without disrupting regular air traffic.`

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