BULLHEAD CITY — Local Area Fun Flyers, a group dedicated to flying radio-controlled planes, still is flying high in Bullhead City after 25 years.
Saturday morning in Rotary Park found several members of the group flying different types of RC planes on the same runway they’ve been using for a quarter-century, the Rodney Briscoe Memorial Flying Field in Rotary Park. One member stated that the group is one of the oldest original groups that have been using Rotary Park most every weekend since it was dirt and had a longer runway. Several changes have taken place since then over time, not all of which were inducive to the flying group.
Orginally there was a dirt runway that was much longer than the current one, but the city came in and paved over, making it shorter. Then it was re-coated using a slurry compound that made the surface uneven and harder on the airplanes. There also were additions to the area of the flightline that made it difficult to see where people were in relation to the planes, which made it tougher to make sure there were no accidents. That was followed later by the current incantation of the flight area, which, if all goes well, will be repaved smoother for the group to continue doing what they love best — flying their RC planes.
Saturday morning saw a dozen of the LAFF crew out flying many different types of RC planes, from one older gas-powered version, to the standard electric, shaped styrofoam versions most fly, and even down to flat-sheet styrofoam versions used in dog fights the group also hosts on the weekends.
On hand Saturday to fly his own plane was the youngest member of the Fun Flyers, 7-1/2 year old Brylan Grippo, who has been flying the planes just under two years now and is the grandson of William Grippo, a 33-year RC flyer and president of the group. He proudly showed off his dog fighter flat styrofoam plane along with some of Grandad’s full-size storebought planes.
The RC plane industry, also known as model aeronautics and aeromodeling, is a huge industry worldwide with organizations that host both world and national championship races and shows all year long. The industry has come a long way from the old days of the small gas-powered motors in larger, heavier plastic model planes, into the modern electric and lighter material ones that can fly faster and longer. With the advent of drones to the mix, RC modeling has had to accommodate new rules for flying in proximity to real aircraft, people, traffic and buildings which drone flying brought about.
The LAFF group’s 18 members all belong to the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the world’s largest model aviation association with more than 195,000 members flying RC aircraft including micro planes small enough to fly indoors to sailplanes, gliders, jets and helicopoters, as well as scaled replicas of designs from aviation history. LAFF operates by the AMA’s rules and standards.
The nonprofit association also works with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission, along with other government agencies, zoning boards and parks departments to promote the interests of local chartered clubs, and operate by their rules and standards.
The group’s AMA page states that it welcomes guest pilots but they must have an AMA card and no drugs or alcohol are allowed at the flightline. It produces a club newsletter, and offers pilot instruction training to members as well. LAFF permits electric, fuel/gas, park flyers and radio control planes at their outings, which are most every weekend and many members who are retired also fly during the week.