Our President Angelo Tata, I have been running, guiding, and now maintaining the Club for the last 20 years I am an avid builder and flyer of all types of Radio Control Aircraft. I am an Intro Pilot with the Academy of Model Aeronautics and I enjoy the camaraderie of our Club members. I work hard in my retirement keeping the peace and caring for our exceptional flying field. We welcome you to visit and join our fine organization.
DEC, 30TH. 2020
The year started normally like any other. I and a couple others attended an indoor meet at Central Penn H.S. in mid January. It went down hill quickly from there. When I attended the Penn Central Swap Meet March 14th. The effects of the pandemic had already been evident. The attendance on both sides of the tables was at least cut by half.
The State of Pennsylvania ordered all activities shut down, and our field was closed to flying for about 6 weeks. We were permitted to maintain the field during the shutdown as long as we observed social distancing and wore face coverings. Things loosened up when the weather got a little better, but no events could be scheduled or permitted.
Treasury wise we are in very good shape. Gary Busler is our treasurer watching over the account. What can I say, I’m very tight with the clubs money.
Membership took a slight uptick probably due to some folks loosing their field and joining ours, some newbies. We welcome all to our club. As most of you know our dues are and have been the lowest of any club in the area. I see no need to raise them. Our members on average are 65 years old, raising dues unnecessarily on our group would result in a loss of members. We still have supporters of the club that don’t fly anymore but value our existence and continue to pay dues and or donate sums of money.
We lost our meeting hall due to the Covid lock down of all healthcare institutions in the state. Ken Lenke our secretary organized a few ZOOM meetings that at least served to keep us informed until the weather broke and we could hold meetings out at the flying field. He also maintains the website and sends out all of the communications to the club members. We explored meeting at the Mall in the food court, but the malls closed too early for our needs.
I should also mention the Clubs V.P., Marty Rotkis. He is the eyes and ears over the weekend crowds and the Pylon group. If we had events he would help with coordinating and setup.
One of the most amazing feats of the season is that the Pylon Racing SIG managed to run the whole racing schedule within the social distancing guidelines (I’m starting to hate that term!) Those guys have racing in their veins. They will be crowning the season’s winner in an upcoming celebration as soon as it is safe.
We have a control line area that members utilize to fly. Our future might be limited to control line flying and some of the members are dusting off their C/L planes or building new and learning to fly control line. One of our CL fliers singlehandedly maintains the primary circle. Control line flying is not only demanding mentally, but a good source of exercise. It is also fun and satisfying.
At the end of July we got permission to have the Philly Flyers Control Line Contest at our field. No food or drink was allowed to be provided. It was bring your own only. A couple of days before the event our field was vandalized making it unusable for the contest. We cleaned it up pretty well only to have it torn up again in the following weeks. This time was worse than the first. Throughout rest of the season this occurred 2 or 3 more times requiring a fair amount of effort by the maintenance crew. The members that come out each and every week to keep the field in the condition you are accustomed to are a robust dedicated team. We do this on Thursday’s so that the field is in the best condition for the weekend fliers. We are all retired. So when you arrive to fly your aircraft be aware that the State does nothing to upkeep the field. It is all done by dedicated members. Field maintenance is our biggest effort and expense. We have 8 tractors and a motorized roller, along with tow behind rollers and a heavy drag rake. This equipment requires steady maintenance. It is rare that we get through a week without one breaking down. Mostly simple stuff like belts, flat tires and batteries. Then we work on improvement projects such as the wind sock across the field, the stepping stones that prevent the walkways from getting muddy, the mulch under the picnic tables, and the trails that help to locate downed planes. All of this occurs while most of you are at work or sleeping in. In the past we paid to have the field mowed. That is no longer affordable. Dues would have to triple to do that and it wouldn’t compare to how we do it.
We lost a couple members this year, not because of Covid-19, but the cancer scourge. Jim Ennis, Steve Dinnerman, and Ken Karpinski. I’d also like to mention Walt Tanzler, I’m not sure if he passed yet, but he was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer. They are all missed and we will remember them.
More recently there have been problems with members at the field grumbling over who or what has right to fly. I’m talking about the communication breakdown between 3D/Heli guys and Fixed Wing fliers. This can’t continue. It’s unusual to have 2 or more Helis doing 3D maneuvering over the active runway. Usually one at a time tying up the runway, where fixed wing fliers can fly 3 to 5 at a time as long as the established pattern is observed. It has also been observed that some of the pilots stand out at the edge of the runway I.E. on the flight line. This is a violation of the AMA safety code and also can’t continue. If you are involved in an accident and it is discovered that you were on the active field you will not be covered by AMA liability insurance.
I want to invoke a policy to help sort the out to flight conditions based on a meet I attended earlier in the year. I will have a poster made and set up at the Pin Board, you know the board where all of your AMA cards are supposed to be posted, yes that board. It will show a 60 minute clock divided in 4 quarters. 0-15 min, and 30-45min segments for fixed wing, and 15-30min and 45-60minutes for 3D/Heli flying. In addition to this, if the control line area is unoccupied, Heli flying, testing and tuning is recommended to take place there.
We are all looking into how the FAA is trying to control or eliminate our hobby. Just remember, if our field is lost, it will never return. It’s no time to cut and run or threaten to not support the club because your feelings got hurt. We have all had our share of stress during the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic. Cabin fever is affecting all of us. The fact that we have a place to go and commiserate with like minded friends in the great outdoors enjoying this wonderful hobby doesn’t have a price tag. It’s priceless!
Lets look forward to next spring and be a positive part of the organization. Ask yourself who is going to run the club when I can no longer do what I do
Angelo Tata, President of Northeast Philadelphia RC Club.