Model planes

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 16, 2007

RC flying club seeks strip to fly

By Coy O’Neal

The Selma Times-Journal

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All across the nation, Americans are invited from all over to come fly the friendly skies &045; everywhere except for Selma, that is.

Selma is home to one of the oldest radio-controlled (RC) flying clubs in the state, yet does not have a field for local modelers to fly on. However, Selma’s local model aviation club hopes to change that soon with the help of the community.

Ken Scott, longtime model aviation enthusiast and former pastor of Joy Baptist Temple, believes that the city stands at a distinct disadvantage by not having a field strip for model aviators to fly on. &8220;This city is being deprived,&8221; Scott said. &8220;Every city should have a model aviation program for its youth.&8221; Flying model planes helps children develop problem-solving skills, eye-hand coordination, and the ability to read blueprints, Scott said.

Scott has witnessed firsthand the many benefits the hobby can provide for children, adolescents, and families.

Many military pilots, commercial pilots, even astronauts have started out as model aviators, Scott said.

Scott named Barrington Irving and Walter Palmer as publicized examples of successful pilots who may have

never discovered their true calling, if it had not been for their exposure to aviation.

Irving is the Florida Memorial University student who was recently in the media for being the first person of African descent and also the youngest person overall to fly solo around the globe. Irving has said his exposure to aviation at the age of 15 made all the difference.

Palmer was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, and flew the highest number of combat missions of all African-American pilots in World War II.

Before joining the military, Palmer was a model aviator.

FEMA leased the old flying field two years ago to use for manufactured home storage.

Scott believes that any of the properties in Selmont that have been declared flood zones would be prime for a new air field. Ideally, someone would be willing to rent, lease, or even sell a property that the Selma model aviation club could purchase for public use.

Dr. Kenny Hatcher, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Selma, has recently become involved in RC flying. &8220;It’s something whole families can get involved in and spend quality time with,&8221; he said.

Hatcher said he will be speaking with congressman Artur Davis about obtaining funds for a flying field and individuals to purchase equipment. Scholarships are also available through the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the national organization to which the Selma model aviation club pays dues, for kids who may be interested but don’t have the money to make an initial investment in the equipment.