Pilots’ feet on the ground, just need place to land

Linda Hicks Contributing Writer Published September 8, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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— The Lektrik Flyers’ planes dodge, duck, dip, dive and soar through the skies almost every Saturday morning while the pilots keep both feet on the ground.

The Lektrik Flyers is a group of remote-control electric-airplane enthusiasts who have been using the Centennial Park Soccer Field in Conway on Saturday morning and holidays when it is not being utilized for playing soccer.

Members of the group said they fear they will soon become “homeless flyers.” They have been told, according to member Bill Beavers, that they need to fly at a designated spot at Beaverfork Lake. The Lektrik group, he said, does not fly a lot with the regular Conway RC Flying Club, which flies at Beaverfork. The Lektrik group flies planes that tend to have smaller landing gear than a lot of the “larger glow (gas) airplanes” generally flown by the Conway club, he added. The “glow planes,” which tend to be much larger, use fuel and the electric planes use batteries.

On Labor Day morning, about 20 of the Lektrik group were participating in an air show where the stunts were pushing the limits of physics. Beavers described the group of men, ranging from eight to 70 years old, as being purposely “disorganized.”

“We are just of group of guys who enjoy our hobby of flying light, and little, electric airplanes. We aren’t flying high power and we aren’t organized. We stay unorganized so we do not alienate anyone. Who is in the group is who shows up for the day.”

Some members of the group describe themselves as “techno-types,” with jobs in computers and software. Chris Evans of Conway works at Axiom. He has been flying with the group a couple of years. A couple of the members are directors of technology for school districts, including Beavers for the Vilonia School District and Joel Dean for the Conway School District.

Dean was gearing up to make his first solo flight. He said he had been hanging out with the group since June observing and gathering information. The hobby, he said, is a perfect way for him to let his hair down. Some people, he said, would view the hobby as “incredibly nerdy.”

During the event, there were also some who didn’t fly. It appeared they were there to give pointers and support. A place like the soccer fields, Beavers said, is needed.

“It gives us paved parking lots that we use for takeoffs and landings, more realistic for the scale electrics, and the soccer fields that we use for landing belly-landers like gliders and other planes of that type that do not have wheels,” he said. “Some of my planes have real working electric retracts for realism and those just cannot land on a grassy surface usually without tearing up a lot of jack on those planes.”

Some of the Lektriks are American Modelers Association members, the official organization for both glow and electric as well as other models.

Members of the Lektriks, Beavers said, are on a mission to secure a flying area where all genres of RC flyers can have accommodations. Specific needs include a pavilion for staging, a paved runway for takeoffs and landings and lots of area that is free of obstacles and accessible to all, he said.

“We like to entertain passersby and we want to just grow the hobby and the camaraderie,” Beavers said. “I have a vision and it includes a place for everyone.”

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