OTTUMWA — From occasional hobbyists to hard-core enthusiasts, people of all kinds gathered Tuesday at the Bridge View Center to fly RC planes and aircraft.
This gathering of like-minded people happened because of the long history of the Ottumwa Radio Control Flyers club. The club has been around for more than 25 years, and many of its original members still fly on a regular basis.
“I started flying when I was just a puppy,” Bob Bratten said with a laugh. “I was around 30 when I stared flying, and I have been a member for the club for about 25 years now.”
The club uses radio-controlled flyers that come in all shapes and sizes, from a tiny four-propeller craft that is no bigger than a hand to a full plane with a 3-foot wingspan. Many of the members fly the traditional electric RC planes, but some choose to fly helicopters or gliders. All forms are encouraged in the club, and everyone learns from what other members bring.
Many members of the club have been flying RC planes since they were children and have passed the love of the hobby on to their children and grandchildren. Jerry Cheney has been flying RC planes since he was 11, and now his son does the same.
“I was lucky if I got two flights in a day when I was a boy,” Cheney said. “Now my flights are only limited by the amount of batteries I bring with me."
The RC planes that Cheney grew up with were gas powered and only had four-to-five-minute flight capabilities. Now most average electric planes can fly for about 10-12 minutes, and some can stay in fight for up to 30 minutes.
“It's just amazing how far these planes have come,” Cheney said. “These advances kept me interested; this is hobby you can never really quit.”