According to Ronnie Espolt, incoming 2013 president of the Victor Valley Flyers Club, the average flight for new owners of radio-controlled model airplanes is less than 30 seconds. The R/C Flyers Club would like to change that.
"They take off and immediately crash," Espolt said. "We want people to know that our club members offer free training for anyone who has a model plane or is thinking of buying one."
Family membership is $175 for the first year, and $75 annually thereafter. There is a $5 day fee for nonmembers to fly, but insurance is mandatory.
"It only takes about five to 10 minutes for us to teach the average person the basics of how to keep the plane in the air," Espolt said. "Landing safely takes a little bit longer," he smiled.
With holiday giving quickly approaching, Espolt knows that model airplanes are often a popular gift. But without the proper training, many new owners are destined for that 30-second flight that Espolt says ends in a pile of toothpicks.
Liability insurance and membership through the AMA, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, is available for a mere $58 a year. It is free to juniors. The website is www.ModelAircraft.org.
The club has specially outfitted planes with two controls to help with training. The novice is given instruction and allowed to control the plane, but the experienced flyer can take over at any time.
Originally located in Apple Valley, the club moved to its current location at 7000 Arrowhead Lake Road, just past Hesperia Lake, several years ago when there was too much growth around the Apple Valley location.
"We wanted to upgrade our runway," Espolt said.
The club now has a paved runway that is 550 by 50 feet. It includes a pad for helicopters, sun shades and winch locations for flying gliders.
There is a robust aerospace industry in the High Desert, according to Espolt. He shared how skills learned flying model planes are transferable to careers in the industry, including flying drones.
Drones tend to be thought of strictly as weapons today. But Espolt explained how they have had many other uses, including surveillance, border patrol and mapping.
The planes average from 18 inches to 12 feet in wingspan.
"The larger the plane, the better and higher they fly," Espolt said.
However, larger planes are also more expensive. A good model plane averages $200 to $350. The price can soar into the thousands for serious enthusiasts.
"We really want to help people," Espolt said. "We can't express that enough. We want them to fly safely."
The field is open daily. An experienced member must be present when guests are flying. For those who wish to bring their own planes, AMA insurance is mandatory.
The Hobby People, at 16808 Main Street in Hesperia, is a local retailer for fully-built planes as well as models that you can build.
Espolt also shared how the hobby is an incredible way for parents and children to bond. He sees a lot of that on the field.
The club website is www.vvrcf.org or you can email email@example.com for more information.