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Soaring for volunteer hospice

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Flying Sequim's skies has been an almost daily ritual for members of the Sequim RC Aeronauts for more than 20 years.

About 40 remote control enthusiasts fly custom-built airplanes, gliders and helicopters at their flying field on Towne Road one mile north of Woodcock Road.

Members are breaking tradition on Saturday, Sept. 11, to run their first radio-control airplane show and fun fly at the Sequim Valley Airport.

Randy Hurlbut, club treasurer, said the event benefits Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County because some club members' families have used the service.

Participation costs $5 for pilots, who must show a current Academy of Model Aeronautics card before flying.

All proceeds benefit Volunteer Hospice. Watching is free, with donations welcomed.

A nearby hangar will have several model airplanes on display, food and raffles for airplanes and other radio-controlled equipment.

Members of the Port Angeles Olympic Radio Controlled Modelers club also are scheduled to participate.


Allure of aeronautics

Sequim radio-control modelers include former pilots, servicemen, retirees and pastors.

"It's for all ages and men and women," Hurlbut said.

"There's some of us who love to fly and some of us who love to build because of the detail and finesse and scale."

Husbands and wives, such as Chuck and Linda Priddle, do the hobby together.

"It keeps me young and my mind working," Chuck Priddle said.

Linda Priddle took her first flying lessons from John Schuy last week.

"I've been sitting on the sidelines for a long time," she said. "It was fun to finally fly."

Schuy, a retired Boeing electrical engineer, has taught RC flying for 25 years. He started making his own planes more than 40 years ago.

"I've met some really nice people doing this and it feels good to help them," Schuy said. "When the weather is nice, I'm out here as much as I can be."

When flying with a student, he'll plug his remote control into the student's so he can help if needed.


Mastering the maneuvers


Hurlbut said radio-control flying looks easy but it is tougher than it seems.

"Everybody over-corrects and over-controls," Hurlbut said.

"No one under-controls because the (remotes) are just that sensitive."

He and other members say the most difficult part is landing a plane.

"You have to have a good sense of humor because no matter how good you are, you'll have a bad landing or wreck," Hurlbut said.

Member Ken Pults has stayed persistent following crashes with his Tiger 60, a mid-sized plane.

He's owned it for four months and rebuilt its front end three times following crashes related to engine problems or bad locations. Pults, who has been building and flying for seven years after a friend gave him a plane, said he definitely has learned the ropes of how to build and rebuild planes.


Flown a long way


Members have a variety of planes, with some preferring small-scale planes that fit in your hand and others preferring scale models that are near replicas of their real-life airplane.

"All these planes have the same functions of a regular size plane," Pults said.

"Batteries and electric motors have been nearly perfected in the last five years, too."

Modern advances lead club members to push the limits of their planes and talents.

Schuy performs several tricks when flying, such as upside-down flights, loops, and spiraling free-falls.

Ben Huntley, a club member from Port Angeles, likes to try landing his Hobby Zone Champ Aeronca, a miniature plane, on a picnic table.

"I've stuck it two times out of about 180," Huntley joked.

In the end, Hurlbut said, perfecting radio-control modeling doesn't come to hours of practice.

"It's gallons of fuel," he said.

Members fly from 9 a.m.-noon seven days a week in the field adjacent to Dungeness Valley Creamery on Towne Road.


Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.



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