Plastic aircraft combat tests pilots' skills

Saturday, June 11, 2011
Stephen Colson (foreground) and David Gerdeman (background) pilot remote controlled planes from the ground Saturday morning, June 11. (Sarah Reed/Democrat-News)

The basic idea of construction is building with corrugated plastic, according to Stephen Colson.

Colson has participated in Slater's R/C SPADfest for several years and says constructing radio-controlled planes with durable plastic is more efficient and less expensive than using wood.

"We can build them faster," he said, adding that if planes are demolished in 'combat' the pilot isn't out much money.

(Sarah Reed/Democrat-News)

Saturday morning, June 11, pilots gathered at Slater Memoial Airport for the annual event hosted by Field of Dreams Radio-Controlled Aircraft Club. Many of them met because of the hobby; the event brings them back together.

"It's better than a family reunion. I get invited," joked William Crane.

Participants sometimes hail from as far away as England and Mexico. This year, pilots represented much of the Midwest. David Gerdeman, of Cleveland, Ohio, had the honor of making a tiara for this year's winner of the speed competition.

"The number one reason (we participate) is the camaraderie," Gerdeman said.

He later taunted Colson by hovering over his crashed plane.

Gerdeman is one of the many participants who enjoy engineering the aircraft. Every plane showcased a different design, and some were simply powered by old weed wacker motors and regular gasoline.

"There were kits on the market before (these aircraft)," Crane said.

New designs are less expensive than the earlier pre-designed planes, according to participants, who often just rely on tape to fix a torn wing.

The first SPADfest was held in 1998.

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