HOLY COW! It’s certainly been a crazy year. Who would have though that beginning the year with our annual January 1st Freeze-Fly that we’d be coping with a pandemic for almost 9 months?
But “cope” is a vast understatement of what we accomplished this year. While other clubs struggled, we actually flourished. Allow me to give a brief narration of this flying season, using examples that I saw personally, as well as those that were related to me.
As everyone remembers, the pandemic began right at the beginning of the flying season-so the weather wasn’t the greatest. But as it did improve, I noticed more cars at the field than ever before. Now, you have to remember, I’m a school teacher, so I get my summers and Christmas off. Usually during these times, I have the field all to myself on weekdays. With the pandemic shutting down everyone’s job, our beloved field had become a sanctuary. Now I’d drive by and see 5 or more cars there. Suddenly, people were sending group texts out, inviting other club members to the field and scheduling times when people would be out. I could tell by the number of texts I would receive what the weather was going to be like the coming day.
But what about the lockdown, the social distancing, the masks, the quarantine? Let me just say that people were very considerate of each other. Also, Harry put on our website the various notices from the CDC about how to stay safe, what the symptoms were, etc. We do have a couple guys that are at a very elevated risk of serious consequences should they get the virus. Everyone did their best to keep everyone else safe. Sure, sometimes we’d forget and get too close to look at the cool plane or see the radio gear, but this was always unintentional, rare and immediately corrected.
Yes, our field had become a sanctuary were the crazy world was briefly forgotten and the more important things like friends, camaraderie just being a person were celebrated and enjoyed. This was no more evident than during our “Official Opening Day Picnic,” where we had as many people come out as we normally do for our July 4th picnic! We had great food, all handled in a pandemic-safe way, great conversations (at mostly 6 feet apart) and great flying. It was so obvious that people were relieved just to get out of their homes and safely hang out with other people. The smiles were everywhere.
This, fellow members, is the power of CLUB. This is the power of OUR club. This is Miami R/C. We are much more than a place to fly, we are a place to grow, to celebrate, to relax, to enjoy ourselves, to make new friends, to renew old ones, to be reminded that in the end, it’s people who are important in our daily lives. It’s people who make our lives meaningful.
BUT THERE’S MORE…
In such a crazy year, we had our first, and hopefully annual, Scale Competition. It was the brain-child of Tom Bean, with the help of numerous others (Jim Martin, Doug Miller, Rick Patton, Keith Numbers). It was a terrific success! Even I competed, and that’s a big deal for me. We had little foamies all the way to giant scale. It was a fun time, and because it was limited to just our club members, it was a great time of encouragement, learning and finding out a bit more about our members that you could respect and appreciate. The crosswinds got pretty fierce, but everyone got in at least 2 flights and the real superstars got in 3, fearlessly flying wind or no wind.
This is the power of CLUB. This is the power of OUR club: to bind together, to see the common ground, to do things we didn’t think we had the courage to do, to come alongside someone else and see them expand their confidence. This is the power of Miami R/C.
You know, if you had to be picky and point out where the negatives are with our club/field, you’d have to say 1) the crosswinds, and 2) the giant and complete wall of corn that appears every other year. We’ve already mentioned the crosswinds, but this year the corn was particularly brutal. We had multiple “landings” in the corn. Even yours truly. Let me tell you my story. Again, it displays the power of CLUB.
I was trying for my THIRD maiden flight of my giant-scale Cessna 182. Yea, third. It’s amazing what backward ailerons will do for you. Anyway, the plane was flying successfully, although it seemed to need more power than I had anticipated. Feeling confident after flying and landing successfully, I took off again and executed a split “S” about the middle of the field and about 100 ft. high. I rolled over, pulled power, and it smoothly executed the maneuver. The engine (Zenoah G-26) decided to quit. Now I was at about 50 ft. high with only about a third of the field left before that 10 ft. wall of corn. Afraid of a tip stall, I kept it going straight. Why is it, by the way, that a plane with no power glides so much better than when the engine is running? Seeing that it wasn’t losing altitude as I expected, I made a gentle right turn, thinking that I could put it in the corn just over the lane by a dozen feet. But NOOOOO. It just kept on gliding for at least another 300 ft. out into the sea of corn. Note to self: buoyancy over the corn is significant on hot days. Boy, did I land gently into that corn, though! Now what was I going to do? Thankfully, guys like Tom Bean, Jim Dalton and Doug Erhardt didn’t pack up and leave, but worked together and even came into the corn to help me find it, which we did after an hour and a half. If I had been alone, the farmer would have found me 3 months later with his combine. Seriously, I became completely disoriented. They helped me get it out (lifting a 100-inch plane through the corn is a serious work out!) and you know what? It was completely undamaged. I even flew it again that very day. I came to find out I could have made a hard 180 and it would have been fine.
AND YOU KNOW WHAT??? The above scenario happened several times to several different people. I think Bill Brucken takes the prize for most times in the corn. But every time someone went in, other members went in with them, or if the pilot was not physically able, in their place. In the final analysis, only one plane was left to the ravages of the combine. It was a medium-sized foamie. I’ll spare the name of the person it belonged to. Even then, the farmer brought it to us-in several chunks.
Again, this is the power of CLUB. This is the power of OUR club. This is the power of Miami R/C. We are more than one person. We are more than our own schedule. We are more than our own interests. We are more than any one individual defeat and we are more than any one success. That’s because, when it comes down to it, we are ONE. Sure we have our differences, sure we get irritated at each other, sure we have different ways of handling various issues, but in the end, we are ONE. We are Miami R/C. This is the power of Miami R/C.
I could keep writing of the other things that show the power of CLUB: the well attended July 4th and closing day picnics, the great group of guys that were out flying almost every morning the weather was nice, the new weather station thanks to Jeff Holsinger, the new windsock location thanks to Jim Dalton, two new windsocks thanks to an anonymous donor, the continually improving website thanks to Harry Woosley (who, by the way, founded Miami R/C close to 50 years ago). This along with the scores of little things that various club members have done to improve the field: charging station battery maintenance, cleaning off the solar panels, fixing flight tables, helping other members with their planes. I could go on and on.
“But Bruce, you’re already doing that!” Ok, I’ll wind it down. Just one more thing…
With all the pandemic stuff, the use of Peace Lutheran Church for our winter meeting site is always in turmoil. Believe it or not, those monthly meetings are useful and worthwhile, if for no other reason than guys getting together and going to get pizza. But, yes, we do get club business done, too. But since we’re hit-and-miss on this important function, please consider allowing the rest of the club follow your winter building project. It doesn’t matter if you’re building from plans or assembling an ARF. It’s not about showing off, but it IS about being an encouragement and an inspiration to others. It’s about sustaining the vitality of our club through the winter season. It IS the power of CLUB. The power of Miami R/C. So, check out the website and PLEASE add your project to the already growing list.
And one last thing (I mean it…), don’t forget about our Freeze-Fly on January 1. We usually meet at noon, fly at least once (depending on the severity of the weather) and then head over to Bob Evans and have lunch together. It’s a great time and it sets to the tone for the new season.
God bless you all. It’s an honor to fly with you. Stay safe. I’ll look for you on the website and at the Freeze-Fly.