The Southland skies will fill with the sights and sounds of airplanes, helicopters, jets and drones this weekend as the Tinley Creek Remote Piloted Flight Club celebrates National Model Aviation Day at its flight site in Matteson.
“We’re going to set up a big show with planes that we’re going to cordon off, and we’ll have helicopters, a couple of drones,” said Mike Zubik, president and founder of the club. “We will have several jets. Some of the guys who fly bigger planes will lift them up and show them how they fly.”
Viewers of Saturday’s free event can also watch drones fly through the ring-shaped pool noodles and catch a demonstration of flying model helicopters. Those who want a little more hands-on action can learn some of the basics of flying (up, down, left, right and rudder) in a flight simulator before trying the real thing with the help of an experienced pilot.
“We have the radio setup that will blow up our person – it’s called friend boxing. We set up another radio next door with our instructor, and if they start to lose the plane, the instructor can step in and blow them up again,” Zubik said.
“We’re getting them pretty far in the air. These trainer planes float a bit so they’re easier to fly. If a student does something wrong, you can touch the transmitter and control the student pretty quickly.”
The Tinley Creek club was founded five years ago, but celebrates National Model Aviation Day for the first time. Model Aviation Academy.
“To my knowledge, we are the only club in Illinois to partner with the AMA to celebrate National Aviation Day,” Zubik said. “We’re actually in the (AMA) magazine – if you go to the website our club will appear.”
More than 100 people are expected to attend Saturday’s event, which will take place from 9am to 1pm at the AMA site in Matteson, 19498 S. Cicero Ave. Food such as hot dogs, chips, and pop will be available, and the club is asking for donations rather than charging for them. More information about the event and the club is on the website, https://tinleycreekrc.com.
“I think there will be a lot of different people,” Zubik said, adding that a Scout unit had recently arrived on the field and nine Scouts and one adult were flown in.
“The young lady who is the guild leader said there were 25 members who didn’t come because they weren’t sure if they wanted to fly. When these kids come back to the meeting, they will see that these kids are having a great time. It was amazing.”
After starting this hobby with his father in 1983, club member Jerry Porter, who has been enjoying this hobby for nearly 40 years, can’t wait to share his love of flying.
“This is a nationwide event promoting the aviation and remote control hobby, so I look forward to having a few people with no remote control experience but an interest come to our space to ask some questions, touch and feel some of them. to have the ability to fly simulators or our aircraft over training systems.”
“Over the years, there has been some wear and tear on older men, and there are not as many young people as we would like to see. I hope this sparks interest in all age groups.”
Flying model helicopters, Porter also gave advice to those who want to plunge into the world of remote-controlled airplanes.
“Don’t go to a store right now and buy remote control stuff. Get out in the field, get hands-on experience with guys who have already invested,” he advised.
“Connect with someone who does this and talk to someone for advice on what to buy… and join a club. When you join a club, you not only go for the hobby, but have 50 people tell you about every aspect of the hobby you can imagine and do it yourself. Instead, you enable failure to lead you on the path to success.
Having enjoyed the hobby for nearly 15 years, Zubik knows firsthand the feeling of failure when his helicopter “stiff and shatters” on its first flight.
When he returned to the hobby shop to inquire about repairs, he came across someone with a helpful suggestion. “There was a gentleman there and he asked if I had ever flown in a simulator,” he said. “He gave me all these lessons. He told me to buy a simulator.”
Flight simulators are for more than just learning hobby. He said that club member George Nicholes had a real layout in his basement where he could fly a few models. This is realistic. It has everything you would find in a real airplane.”
The Tinley Creek club has 65 members who live in the area, including one from northwest Indiana. Dues are $35 per year, but only $30 for those over 65, so about 10 or 12 current members.
“Many of these guys in the club have been in (hobby) for a long time,” Zubik said. “He has 40, 50 planes. Some of the collections they have are incredible.”
The organization also has younger members, including 11-year-olds and 13-year-olds.
Brayden Douglas, 11, joined the club last year. “My father told me about it,” he said. “I am currently using a trainer. It’s an airplane.”
He enjoys the company of the club. “There are a lot of good people out there and they’re all very nice to me,” Douglas added, adding that they were trying to teach him something. “I started with the simulator, but then I jumped on the plane. I’m also flying with a buddy box to help me.”
The experienced pilot flying with him is his father. “It’s a good way to spend time together,” said Robert Douglas.
The time he spends with other club members is a big reason Zubik enjoys the hobby.
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“My favorite part is when all the guys get together. Everyone there is just a good group. Flying is fun. “Sometimes you go there and you don’t even want to fly – you just want to talk to people.”
The club’s grounds, which belong to the Cook County Forest Reserve, are marked with a sign that reads “Tinley Creek Model Flying Field.” Zubik said it’s divided into three parts: drone, helicopter and airplane. It has a 30-metre asphalt track and a large lawn.
Porter values the club’s space very much.
“There are paved tracks and picnic areas. It’s a world-class space,” he shared.
It hosts at least three club events each year, for example the helicopter event last month and the upcoming ‘warbird’ event on August 26 and the ‘all fly’ event in September. When they’re not flying, they meet once a month at Fox’s Restaurant in Orland Park and hope it gets bigger after the annual big celebration on Saturday.
“If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to fly a plane, it’s time to get out and we’ll get you up in the air,” Zubik said. “We have people going out and they’re like, ‘Wow. I never thought it. I want to do something like this.’”
Melinda Moore is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.