PYNN'S BROOK Skill, nerve, level-headedness; these are the qualities of a good pilot.
They're also the same qualities, though on a smaller scale, it takes to fly a radio-controlled plane. This is the tenth year of the Humber Valley Radio Controlled Flyers Club. They meet at their field on the dirt road off the TCH just past the truck inspection station near Pynn's Brook, mainly in the morning because that's when the wind is low.
The spot has a little shed, with a few fence structures to stand behind for safety and the airfield itself almost looks like a facility for the real thing. The real thing is what members are going for. The planes themselves can vary in size and price, with one model here went for around $2,000, which the owner, Alvin Martin, bought in Florida recently.
The plane almost looks like a fighter jet and can do more acrobatic movies than a less expensive one. It's like anything else, explained Martin; the more you put into the hobby, the more you get out of it. The club only has about 12-15 members and the youngest is in his 40s. But these aren't toys that they're using here. People who fly radio-controlled planes get a pretty good idea of how real planes fly. And when those planes are up in the air it can be downright nervewracking for a first timer.
"There's always something to learn in doing this, new moves, other ways to fly," said Martin.
Martin is using a sophisticated control that actually has a touch screen on it. his plane flies over and with a few moves of the joysticks he makes it spin and fly upside down.
And like anyone who has been doing something for a while, he makes it look very, easy.
Bruce Langdon owns what looks like a WWII plane, yellow in colour and quite a size. He puts the planes together in his basement and said he loves the challenge of flight and exploring the line between a successful aerial trick and a crash, which he has just witnessed. As he speaks he still has brambles and a caterpillar on his neck and shoulders from walking through the thick woods looking for a downed plane.
"I love the challenge, the acceleration," he said.
"The not knowing what might happen, it's really about the rush."
He said no one wants to crash a radio-controlled plane, especially if the owner built it himself. But exploring the limits of how far one can go before a crash is something they all love to do.
"There are people who have beginner models and they just want to fly them in straight lines," Langdon said as he makes his plane stop in the air. "But others want to learn new things and make their planes do more."
The earliest examples of electronically guided model aircraft were hydrogen-filled model airships of the late 19th century. They were flown as a music hall act around theater auditoriums using a basic form of spark-emitted radio signal according to Wikipedia.
Today there are all styles and sizes of planes, helicopters and jets to suit everyone's taste. Most beginner kits will run between $3-$400, and more advanced models going into the thousands. Some run on basic gasoline, while some are electric. Some run on what is called glow fuel, which is a mixture of methanol, nitromethane, and oil.
Langdon said the jet models, which have actual jet engines, run on kerosene, same as real jets.
Club member Ross Pelley takes apart his plane to head home after a flight.
"I used to be a salmon fisherman but I don't do that very much anymore," he said. "(Flying these planes) is like you have a salmon on your line every time, it's great fun."
There are no helicopters at the 13-member club as of yet, but membership is open.