BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, California --
Imagine flying a P-51D Mustang and minutes later a C-130 Hercules. The Beale Blackbirds Radio Control Club offers a location where radio-controlled aviation enthusiast can fly or learn to fly model aircraft. Helicopters, airplanes, and even small drones can often be seen taking off from the designated airfield near FamCamp.
According to the Beale Blackbird’s website, the club is dedicated to promoting, sharing, and enjoying the sport of radio controlled aircraft flying in the local area of Northern California. More than 50 members (both military and civilian) fly a wide variety of aircraft from electric foam planes to gasoline giant scale planes.
Interested Airmen who have the desire to start flying have a few options available for training. Having an instructor on a buddy box system, simulator, or self-teaching on a Ready-to-Fly (RTF) aircraft are possibilities for first time flyers.
“It can be as expensive as you want it to be,” said Senior Airman Justin Joyner, 349th Air Mobility Wing Detachment 1 KC-135 crew chief. “It is probably $300-$400 if an individual were to buy their own set up.”
The club has events throughout the year where you can meet and learn from experienced members about the sport.
“Everyone from beginner to expert flyers are welcome,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Carrillo, 349th Air Mobility Wing Detachment 1 KC-135 crew chief.
To fly at the club’s airfield aspiring members must obtain:
Membership to the club, guest of a member, or event participant ($25 for individuals or $35 for family membership (E-4 and below military personnel are free as well as children under 12).
Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) membership $38-$75
Federal Aviation Administration registration ($5 registration is valid for three years)
According to the FAA’s website, anyone who owns a small unmanned aircraft that weighs more than 0.55 lbs. (250g) and less than 55 lbs. (25kg) must register with the Federal Aviation Administration's UAS registry before they fly outdoors. People who do not register could face civil and criminal penalties.
“I think it is another avenue that people might not know about to get involved in aviation,” said Carrillo. “If you like flying, it’s a good sport.”
For more information about the Beale Blackbirds Radio Club visit http://www.bealeblackbird.com/ or learn more about FAA UAS registration http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/ and AMA membershps visit http://www.modelaircraft.org/