Burlington Radio Control Modelers
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Burlington Radio Control Modelers celebrate 50 years of flights
Bio
June 3, 2024
The Burlington Radio Control Modelers are celebrating 50 years in the skies above the city this year.
Chris Arnold/BurlingtonToday
Written by: Chris Arnold
May 30, 2024 11:00 AM
Reprinted with permission from BurlingtonToday.com.
Click here for the original article.

Skies are clear for another successful year of operation for this 50-year-old club

When Charlie Chomos was in the first grade, going to school in a one room schoolhouse where the teacher taught eight grades at once, he saw a classmate assemble a rubber band powered model airplane.

Seeing that first flight stuck with him, as a founding member of the Burlington Radio Control Modelers, and eventually buying his own airplane – a 1969 Champion Citabria. Now five decades from the radio control club’s founding, Chomos continues to fly scale models, and they are anything but toy planes.

“One aircraft I built in 1975 is a Piper Super Cup,” Chomos said. “It’s a quarter scale, so one quarter the size of the real aircraft. It has a nine foot wingspan.”

Chomos was among five or six founding members of the club, which has now grown to around 120 members. The club is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year; it just so happens to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The majority of members are flying electric planes, a definite upgrade from rubber band powered models, and some are using kerosene to operate machines that can rival full sized aircraft in terms of speed.

“I’ve seen a model of a Concord that was maybe 15 feet long, and weighed around 150 pounds,” Burlington Radio Control Modelers president Geoff Norman said. “It was powered by four jet turbines, burning kerosene just like the Concord did. It flew at about 200 kilometers per hour.”

Norman himself mostly sticks to Second World War models, building Spitfires with six-foot wingspans.

Using models allows potential pilots to pull maneuvers that would be dangerous in real life, Norman said.

“It’s quite an incredible hobby, to see the evolution from when I was starting – of course everything has evolved thanks to the electronics,” Norman said. “The receiver that receives the impulses from the transmitter is around the size of your thumb, and it contains magnetometers and accelerometers so you can have various modes of flying.”

Norman also touched on the rubber band powered planes that were common when he was a kid, and how the change to being able to individually control the rudder on the back, set pitch limiters to aid with turning, and having lighter materials instead of balsam wood has changed the way the planes operate.

As the technology and amount of members in the club has expanded, so have the responsibilities. The club maintains two small – 300- and 400-foot long – runways on five acres of land that need to be mowed.

Rules and regulations have also changed, thanks in part to the introduction and popularity of drones. Registrations and tests are required, depending on the size of the plane. However, radio controlled planes do not need to be an expensive hobby to get off the ground.

“You can buy a Mitchell Bomber or a Spitfire that comes out of the box ready to go with two electric motors, rudders, elevators, the whole package for a couple hundred dollars,” Norman said.

Anyone interested in getting their wings is encouraged to reach out to the club. New members are joining at 87-years-old, and the group is always looking for new members.

“Nowadays you can’t really start on your own, because it’s dangerous,” Chomos said. “Club rules are different now too. We have more safety than we ever had back in the day. We have people that are in their 60s or 70s just learning to fly RC, and they do quite well. But it’s the younger people that pick it up the quickest because they’re used to computers and games. Their mindset is different.”

The celebration for the club’s 50th anniversary kicked off last year, as members held a fly-in, showing off their latest aircraft builds to one another. Members will hold a similar event this summer, though official plans are still up in the air.