Indoor flying takes off in Pontiac

Daniel Mears
The Detroit News

Pontiac — It’s not every wintry day in Metro Detroit you can fly an airplane inside a building, but that’s exactly what Skymasters R/C of Michigan is doing in Pontiac.

Phillip Jenot watches Jack Iafret pilot his RCA Tuesday at indoor Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac.

Utilizing one of the mammoth indoor soccer fields at Ultimate Soccer Arenas, with its 72-foot ceiling, radio-controlled aircraft enthusiasts get in their flight time without having to stomp around in the snow.

“This is indoor electric flying only, with aircraft that are within two pounds or less,” Randy MacInnes of Skymasters said. “We will have as many as 60 pilots from around the Metro area flying, some as far as Flint and Windsor. We run every Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., starting in November, and go till April.”

A single flying session costs $10; a 25-session season pass is available for $110.

“I started flying when I retired but most people started when they were kids in grade school or high school,” said Fred Engelman. “I really enjoy the camaraderie, especially in the winter time when it’s harder to get out and fly.

“I also like building the planes,” he said. “Some kits, some I actually build out of balsa wood. I’ve found I have developed a lot more patience since getting into this hobby. When you work with stuff like balsa wood and you get impatient, you just end up mangling it all up.”

“There so many clubs here, so many different people that you end up getting to know from all around the state” says Randy MacInnes. “So much amazing talent for building with so many different ideas. You walk around and see all the different planes, it’s just unreal.”

“I like the tinkering on it,” says John Garlinghouse of Dryden as he “3D” flew a tri-wing RCA. A “3D” is any flight that is inverted, hoovering or spinning.

“I can change the plane around, I can change the dynamics of it, I can change the motor, I can change the props,” he said. “It isn’t that expensive, and the planes are not that breakable. You can crash these planes quite a bit and just glue them and fly them again.

“When you fly outside, the planes are very fragile and you can have $1,000, $2,000 in a plane and one good crash, you can take the whole plane out. This you can crash a thousand times and it’s like a $200 investment.”


How to fly

Go to www.skymasters.org or visit Pontiac on Tuesdays to watch. They even have a few planes for test flights if you want to give it a try.