Radio-controlled aircraft enthusiasts will get an opportunity to escape winter weather and fly their crafts inside at Marion Elementary School gymnasium later this month.
With the closest indoor flying opportunities half an hour away, Lin Slifer discussed the idea of an indoor flying event in Marion with fellow flyers Todd Winter and Terry Chizek.
“The three of us are primarily the ones who’ve been doing a lot of talk on this,” Slifer said. “The closest one is 30 miles away, so we thought maybe Marion would open up gyms here.”
Slifer approached superintendent Lee Leiker and parks and recreation director Margo Yates for assistance.
The event is free for the public. Yates said parks and rec are looking to offer more activities that are free of charge to the public.
Spectators can “expect a little amazement,” Slifer said.
“Some of these guys can get these planes to do whatever they want them to do,” he said. “They’re fun to watch, and it’s a challenging hobby and it gives you a sense of accomplishment.”
Those who own radio-controlled helicopters, planes, or even drones are welcome to fly them around the gymnasium.
Slifer hopes the event will be a way for fellow RC enthusiasts to come together and enjoy flying while escaping the cold.
Another goal is to generate more interest, possibly by setting up a simulator for the public to use during the event.
“It’s a way people can be hands on with controllers and see how to do it without the fear of crashing a plane,” Slifer said. “If you crash on a simulator, it pops up a new plane and you go again. It’s a great training tool, not to mention a whole lot of fun.”
Yates thought the simulator brought a unique aspect to the event and was something the public would enjoy.
“I like the idea that they’re going to have a flight simulator in there,” Yates said. “It’s not just something people can just observe. They can actually participate up to a certain extent.”
Millennials are a prime target.
“I made this joke before: you know how kids are constantly two thumbing on a cell phone? That’s what it takes to fly an RC plane,” Slifer said.
While some take flying seriously, the event will be strictly for fun.
“It’s like any other hobby or sport,” Slifer said. “Some people enjoy doing it and some enjoy doing it but want to achieve higher.”
Free fly-ins for spectators and Academy of Model Aeronautics will be 1 to 5 p.m. every other Sunday Jan. 15 through March 26.