The 100 Mile Model Flyers Club Society is going strong with 22 members who get together regularly to send their aviation creations soaring into the sky.
At the club’s recent Fun Fly Air Show, society president Bill Hood said its members range in age from their youngest pilot at eight years old to a few in their seventies.
The hobby is something almost anyone can enjoy, with the cost of a basic model plane starting around $400, Hood said, adding the club’s more experienced pilots often help the newcomers.
“Anybody can fly these things; it’s just a matter of practice.”
One of his own, larger model planes runs about $1,200, he explained, but the sky is the limit for how much a pilot chooses to invest in the hobby.
Models flown by the local club members typically range in size with wingspans from four to 12 feet, and he noted the wing assembly and fuselage are removed for transporting.
Although they fly at various locations, the club has its own “airport” on a leased property by the snowmobile track on Ainsworth Road.
As Hood carefully reassembled his plane and filled it with fuel through a small tube to get it flight-ready, he explained one of the aspects of model flying is anyone who participates has to deal with regular crashes.
“You build it, you fly it, you break it, you fix it again,” he said, adding it’s the ongoing cycle in any model flyers routine.
Luckily, it is not often a plane is damaged beyond repair, he explained, even when the pilot gets a bit carried away with ever-present enthusiasm.
“Most everything can be fixed. Most crashes are the result of pilot error, or just having too much fun.”
Hood inadvertently demonstrated this shortly after the interview during the air show, when he smashed one of his own planes, as bits of it scattered about 60 feet along the runway.
“I only looked away just for a second. That’s something you just can’t do with the speed these things go.”
Engine failure is another frequent cause of wrecked planes, jets and choppers, he said, but whatever the reason, these hobbyists spend a lot of time on the tarmac picking up pieces that they then glue back together for the next flight.
It’s all part of the game, he said, and these aviators have almost as much fun tinkering and repairing as they do flying their models into the clouds, reaching flight speeds of up to 100 miles an hour.
Hood has a dozen of his own model planes, as well as a helicopter that he reserves for flying indoors in the 100 Mile Junior Secondary gymnasium.
“I started in 1971, but I dropped off for a while. I’ve been doing it here in 100 Mile House for about eight years.”
The 100 Mile Model Flyers Fun Fly Air Show was the third annual weekend event, and Hood noted it saw a pretty good turnout, despite the poor weather on the first day.
Pilots came from Penticton, Vernon, Lumby, Kamloops, Merritt, Horsefly and the United States.
The Cessna 182 model aircraft raffled off at the event, won by lucky club member John Code of 100 Mile House, was a receiver-ready active wing trainer plane with the engine and mechanical flight control systems installed.
The society holds the event each year to raise funds for the 100 Mile House Food Bank.