Model plane hobbyists flying into Mesa park

Model plane enthusiasts will be flocking next weekend to the specially designed Superstition Airpark in northeast Mesa for a demonstration of plane building and flying. (Special to AFN)

Pilots and their model planes will be flying around Superstition Airpark this weekend as the Arizona Model Aviators and STEM+C host Taking Flight 2019.

The event April 13-14 will give the public a chance to see every aspect of the model aviation hobby, from model building to flight simulators to free-fly and combat flying.

Taking Flight “is for those who are really interested in getting a taste of what our R.C. hobby is as far as model planes and helicopters,” said Shannon Gallagher, the president of the Arizona Model Aviators.

Gallagher said the event will have something for everybody. Pilots and aviators can bring their models to fly and join races and activities with each other while newcomer pilots will have the opportunity learn to fly the models with a device Gallagher calls a buddy box.

The buddy box is a dual-control system that gives new pilots complete control of the model plane, while allowing an experienced to quickly take over if the newcomer falls into trouble so the plane won’t crash.

Another activity is a group-building session in which kids and families can build their own model plane from styrofoam step-by-step together and actually fly it afterward.

“We’ll have aircraft people can buy for $35 and they can sit there and put the plane together. You just have to add your own radio control stuff but you can have a ready to go plane,” Gallagher said.

Aside from the fun simulations and plane building, the event will allow anyone from engineers, airline pilots and students to learn and interact with others in their field.

Paul Kaup, the owner of STEM+C and educator, is organizing Taking Flight 2019. With STEM+C, Kaup, who is also a Southwest Airline pilot, wanted to share his passion with flying and model planes with students as well as parents outside of the classroom.

“I’ve done a dozen couple projects with kids and students…but the teachers time is very valuable and limited,” Kaup said. “I’m trying to get more to event type stuff so students and families can meet more in an event-type atmosphere where you aren’t limited to an hour of class time.”

Kaup will be leading the group plane-building activity. He said by holding a group build, he’s giving an introduction to engineering and aviation.

“We’re actually teaching the kids to build and construct and kind of get their feet wet from an engineering perspective,” he said.

Admission to Taking Flight 2019 is free but there is a $6 parking fee. To take part in free-fly, pilots must present their Arizona Model Aviators license and pay $10 for the weekend.

Kaup said all money collected from the event will go to funding for a new runway for Superstition Airpark.

The airpark is a model airplane field that has an 800x85-foot paved runway with 75-foot dirt overruns. The site also features a 250-foot covered Ramada, a pit area and spectator viewing area. Power and food vendors are available on contest days.

It is located on E Levee Dr ive, a quarter mile north of Brown Road off Meridian Road.



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