These pilots fly with their feet planted firmly on the ground, and they’re inviting the community free of charge to see how they do it during the Veterans and Angels Fly-in on Oct. 18-20 at the old airfield off Airport Road.
The event is for radio-controlled aircraft pilots, with pilot fees benefitting Fort Stewart’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation for local service members and their families, said Lewis Waldrop, Blazing Angels RC Squadron club president. Pilots who participate will pay $10 a day, or $20 for all three days, said Don Borte, fly-in coordinator and squadron club member. Donations also will be accepted, Borte said.
The club will follow safety rules and regulations for the fly-in as prescribed by the Academy of Model Aeronautics or AMA, Waldrop said.
“We will have EMS on-site for safety and we’ll have two field medics there,” Borte said.
He said Dr. Dan Green, a club member and surgeon, and retired Army Maj. Eric Mueller, also a club member, will be on-site during the event.
The club will provide a covered pavilion for spectators, and the Hinesville Lions Club, of which Waldrop is the immediate past president, will sell hotdogs and hamburgers Oct. 19.
Waldrop said the club’s last fly-in had a disappointing turnout due to poor publicity. This time, the club has aggressively promoted the event and is planning for 150-200 pilots to show.
“We have jet pilots coming in from Florida to fly turbine powered jets — just like the real ones — that approach speeds of 200 mph,” Borte said. “We’re going to have from Atlanta a group of giant-scale flyers. Their planes have wing spans up to 20 feet.”
He added the Georgia State Patrol and a medical evacuation unit will have helicopters on display at the fly-in.
Waldrop said the Blazing Angels RC Squadron was founded about four years ago. He has been flying radio-controlled aircraft since 1976.
“I flew helicopters in the Army,” Waldrop said. “I retired in 1994. I started flying radio-controlled aircraft when I was stationed in Japan.”
The club president said the squadron currently has 18 members but is “always looking for new people to learn. We have instructors to train people how to fly.”
Borte is a radio-controlled aircraft instructor.
“My youngest student so far is about 10 years old,” he said. “My oldest student has graduated — he’s about 37 years old.”
Borte said he teaches “correct habits” and anyone can learn to fly radio-controlled aircraft if they can hold a radio transmitter. He said women make exceptional pilots “because they’re good at multitasking.”
The cost for a basic radio-controlled aircraft is not exorbitant, running from $250-$300 for a fully functional airplane with a four-channel radio, Waldrop said. He added some experienced pilots might have aircraft costing in the thousands.
“They’re mild to wild,” Waldrop said.
Borte and Waldrop are passionate about their past-time.
“Every Sunday, we’re there (at the airfield),” Borte said. “We usually start showing up at 8:30 or 9 o’clock in the morning and stay ‘til dark. I try to stay as long as I can because I love it. I also fly at night.”
To reach the airfield from Highway 84 in Walthourville, turn onto Airport Road and then take the first left onto Harman Road. Then take the first right onto Dorsey Road and follow it to the entrance on the right, directly across from Whit Frasier Road.
For more information, call Borte at 912-977-1961 or go to blazingangelsrc.com.