The Red Stick Radio Control Flying Club met for what may be the last time June 28 on the field it has called home for the last 27 years, said Raymond David, the youthful 82-year-old R/C trainer for the club.
It’s not the first move for the club, though it didn’t have a new home as of the meeting.
David was a member when the club flew its pint-sized, radio-controlled airplanes on what was once open land where the Mall of Louisiana sits today. He and the club members spent time setting up the shelters, benches and concrete pads that made their club easy and convenient for members to use, which they do, each Saturday, when the weather is good enough to put their planes and helicopters in the air.
The club has overcome floods on the field and other setbacks — their club house burned down twice, and they eventually replaced it with a metal container.
But it’s been home to radio control fliers of all ages.
David surveyed the members as they roamed the grounds off Burbank Drive with controllers in hand, staring at their planes moving through the sky above the field, pointing out all those he’d taught the sport personally.
“I stopped counting how many people I have trained when I got to a thousand,” said David, who also teaches the aviation badge for Boy Scouts.
“They call me Mr. Awesome at Boy Scout Camp,” David said, to which 6-year-old Christian Klusman, who wandered up to give David a hug, said, “You are awesome. Can we fly the glitter plane?”
Christian, son of Vice President Rick Klusman, said he has fun every time he comes to the field. “Every plane you fly, at first, it’s hard. But then it gets easier. But I like it because when you get a new plane, it’s a little harder at first.”
David smiled with pride, dutifully putting together the plane with glitter sprinkled on its wings.
“This has seen a lot of action, and the kids love it because it’s bright pink. I painted it pink and added glitter to make it more appealing to the kids,” he said.
Moving between the ongoing crawfish boil at the back of the property and flying going on the field, Klusman said he can’t help but think of the group as a family. “A dysfunctional one, maybe, but a family. Members of this club have given away so much over the years,” he said, all because they wanted to share their love for the sport.
The land where the club is now was sold several years ago, and the new owner has begun development that will necessitate a move, Klusman said.
Rules of flying dictate that the craft not fly over populated areas, and that includes work sites, he said.
The club has invested a lot of time and money into the property, but that’s not what worries Rick Whitlow, club president.
The club has meant so much to so many people over the years, Whitlow said, that he hates to think of it all falling to the wayside for lack of a place to meet and fly their planes safely.
“We have specific things we have to do in order to stay within the AMA’s (Academy of Model Aeronautics) safety guidelines, and to follow the law,” he said.
Of the sites with the space and the lack of populated areas necessary, Klusman said, so far their options have been so remote as to preclude their regular use.
One other thing that appealed about their current home was how many members it gained from drive-by traffic.
“People would see our planes in the air from Burbank and pull in and park way in the back, kind of hanging back a little. We’d see them and wave them over and talk to them about how to get involved,” Whitlow said.
They hope to find a new home that will provide the same exposure, he said, and easy access that also meets their safety requirements.
“We have a couple of prospects, but we’re still looking,” Klusman said.
For information about training with the Red Stick R/C Fliers, contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org.