Planes of all colors and sizes fly at the field. There’s one common thread: They’re powered by electricity, not gasoline. The Electric Powered Aeromodelers Club’s fun fly at Maalwyck Park isn’t just confined to the flying field, giving people more room to spread out, Hackert said.
In Maalwyck Park in the Town of Scotia, tucked away off Route 5, is a field unlike any other in the Capital District.
The town mows the field as it does all the fields in the park that it owns. But that’s just a rough cut. Much more exacting work is done by members of The Electric Powered Aeromodelers Club.
“We leveled it, rolled it and raked it,” club president John Hackert said. “It’s like a golf course.”
That makes for ideal conditions for electric-powered planes and helicopters.
On Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 6 and 7, the field will be the site of the club’s annual fun fly. In fact, the event is so big that it will spill over to some other areas of the park.
“It’s been growing. It’s a really nice event,” Hackert said.
Let’s back up, though. Before there was ever a fun fly, there were just a bunch of people who liked to fly model airplanes that were powered by electricity rather than gas. There’s a few reasons electric-powered planes are appealing: They’re clean. They’re quiet. They’re more challenging than gasoline-powered planes.
There wasn’t a club that catered to these hobbyists until about 10 years ago, when The Electric Powered Aeromodelers Club was born. Based in Scotia, it counts people from all over the Capital District among its 70 or so members. The club meets monthly, usually at the Empire State Aerosciences Museum in Glenville. In warmer weather, meetings are sometimes held at Maalwyck Park at the club’s field.
Members are often at the field even when there’s not a meeting. Head over there on a sunny day and you’re bound to find someone flying, Hackert said. People don’t have to belong to the club to enjoy flying at the field, but they do have to follow a few rules. They should follow the flying guidelines of the Academy of Model Aeronautics. They should fly from designated locations or pilot stations. They should let other people know when they’re taking off and landing. They should announce maiden flights so that everyone knows. They should keep a safe distance from other planes.
The point of the rules – really, the point of even having a designated field – is safety, Hackert said.
“We’ve never had a problem and we don’t intend to,” he said.
That’s why pilots who come to the fun fly will be interviewed and their planes inspected. Once they get the all clear, they’re free to join other planes in the sky, with spectators watching from a roped-off area.
There’s plenty to do besides just watch the planes flying. The club will have “buddy boxes” set up, where an instructor will launch a plane and a student can fly it when it’s in the air. There will be a helicopter demonstration. Kids and adults alike can take a turn on a flight simulator. Food and beverages will be for sale.
The emphasis is on fun, but there are usually some informal competitions, Hackert said. There will be a sail plane contest, in which planes climb as high as they can in a set amount of time and then turn off their engines. They have to land as close to a spot on the runway as possible.
Not long ago, some club members went to a Shenendehowa school and taught students how to fly planes in the cafeteria. Some of those students will be at the fun fly, and “we can see how they’ve progressed,” Hackert said.
Hackert was just a kid when he was first turned on to the hobby himself. Living in Santa Barbara, Calif., where model planes were very popular, he saw planes take off from cliffs and then fly out over the ocean. Nowadays, he’s one of the people introducing other people to the planes, noting that one of the reasons people join the club is that they need help with their planes. To that end, the club sponsors classes and building sessions during the winter.
Hackert encouraged people to stop by the flying field any time to see planes in action, and particularly this weekend. Admission is free and there will be plenty of raffles. For pilots, a $10 registration fee covers both days. All slow flyers are welcome.
Maalwayck Park is off Route 5 just opposite the industrial park. For more information on the Electric Powered Aeromodelers Club, visit epaclub.com.