Saturday, June 17, 2006

Radio Controlled Airplanes

By Christina VanGinkel

One of my fondest memories of childhood is recalling when my three cousins from Illinois would head north, to our small town in Michigan to spend several weeks with us each summer. They would come with sleeping bags, fishing poles, and always their radio controlled airplanes.

This was a time period where radio controlled airplanes were built from the ground up. Where as much work went in to them as some people now put into professional airplanes. They would be constantly working on them, designing this changing that, re-painting the entire airplane, all because they enjoyed doing it all immensely, and it was just what they did. It was their hobby. It was what all the rest of us cousins thought of whenever we thought of them.

I also remember that one of the reasons that they always brought their airplanes when they came to visit, was because my father had a real airplane, a small Piper Cub that he flew out of the small airport a few towns over. Each summer, he would not only give all of us kids ride, including the visiting cousins, but he would arrange for them to fly their airplanes at the real airport. Even back then, nearly forty years ago, living in town meant dealing with things like power and telephone lines.

The thought of having a wide open space to fly their airplanes in, without having to worry about them hitting a line, crashing into a house, or making an emergency landing on the highway that ran by our house, meant less chance of damage to all of their hours of hard work.

My dad would have it all set up for about the second week they spent by us, and all of us kids, and adults alike, would pile into our family's station wagon. This was before seat belts were required, there would be half a dozen kids jammed into the backseat, two in the far back of the wagon with the airplanes, along with all their gear, including a gas can, and at least two kids jammed up front between the adults.

One year I remember that my Aunt and Uncle also came with for this yearly event, but we had to take two cars, theirs and ours, ad we would not all fit. All of us kids still wanted to ride in the station wagon with the airplanes though, so my Mother rode with my Aunt and Uncle, and all of us kids still rode with my Dad.

Radio controlled airplanes are still a huge pastime that both kids and adults alike enjoy. They are available in gas and electric models, and can be purchased all set to go, as a kit needing to be built from the ground up, or partially constructed with painting and other final additions still needing to be applied. On the other hand, for the most enterprising people, even by setting out from the ground floor with no kit, just an idea in your head, and the fortitude to make it something tangible.

Radio controlled airplanes (Besides radio controlled airplanes, there are also helicopters, boats, cars, and trucks) also come in enough of a variety to fit most budgets. You can get started for less than a hundred dollars, or easily rack up the cost into the thousands of dollars, depending on what you choose, and how serious you take this very fun hobby.

It is a good hobby for families to participate in together, with adults and children finding enough about the activity to keep both age groups satisfied. If you are interested in learning more about radio controlled airplanes, or one of the several other radio controlled vehicle types that are available, be sure to check out one of the many online sties that sell supplies, such as Alternatively, check locally for a group or organization that has been formed for the sport, possibly providing you with a chance to view the fun that is just waiting to be had. You can test the waters by seeing what all the fuss is about, before you buy one of your own. Be warned though that once you see a demonstration, it will be difficult if not entirely impossible to not want your own!

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