This video and accompanying article were produced by Atlanta’s PBS station, PBA30, and features the AMA club Georgia Model Aviators.
Georgia Model Aviators is a private club of almost 300 members dedicated to building and flying radio control planes. On any typical day you might see pre-built foam planes, scratch built vintage bi-planes, and even jets.
The club owns 55 acres and has a paved runway as well as sheltered tables to assemble the planes on. "You need a big area to fly safely where you're not flying over other people," Lou Melancon told us, "and where there are other modelers who are coming out and sharing the experience with you."
Advances in computer technology have made it easier for the new flyer. "You can actually plug your radio control transmitter into your computer and teach yourself how to fly" said Lou. Programs costing less than $100 allow the budding pilot to realistically simulate flying -- and learn how not to crash. Jerry Smith is a big fan of this new technology. Even after decades of experience he still likes using the simulator. "It's a lot cheaper than cracking up airplanes."
The next step for the serious modeler is building the plane. "The big thing with me is having built it," Jerry Smith told us. "I design them, I build them and I fly them. It's been a lifetime passion for me."
Pedro Sanchez agrees. He's just finished building a vintage Stearman bi-plane from scratch, a 600 hour project. "I can't imagine myself just flying and not building -- or building and not flying. I like to do both. Spending hundreds of hours building a plane and then seeing it fly -- well that's just incredible."