By Jennifer Gallus
HOWARD LAKE, MN - Deciding to drive a different route home one day led a Howard Lake father and son into a new hobby.
Dan Judd and his son, Ben, 8, drove Wright County Road 9 home from Buffalo a year ago for a change of scenery, and noticed a sign that read “Crow River R/C Aeromodelers Club.” The club’s web site was also on the sign.
Being that Ben was already “fascinated” with an airplane simulator computer program, Dan said he decided to check out the web site.
The club is a radio control model aviation club, whose members’ interests, “cover most areas of radio controlled aircraft modeling, including fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, sport, scale, pattern, IMAC, and electric,” according to club president Nathan Soley.
The two decided to check out the club, which is located north of Waverly.
“There’s a great group of guys out there,” Dan said. “They told us that they fly every Saturday.”
The Judds went out and bought a trainer remote control plane called a Super Club.
“We figured that one out on our own,” Dan said. “Then we bought the NexSTAR, which is the big one we have, and called an instructor from the club who became our teacher.”
Dan explained that there are computer programs that are flight simulators for remote control airplanes, which “helped a lot.”
“I whipped on it,” Ben said with enthusiasm. “I’m really good at flying airplanes on the computer. I’m really talented at flying inverted,” he added.
Most days last summer, Dan could barely make it in the door upon coming home from work before being begged by Ben to head out to the airfield.
The Judds said that they have crashed their planes plenty of times, and have had to buy parts and repair them.
Hobby Zone in Plymouth is a store the Judds particularly patronize.
“They’ve helped us out a lot,” Dan said.
Wife and mother, Erin, along with the couple’s twin 7-year-old boys, Jake and Nate, also accompany the two to the airfield from time to time.
“Jake and Nate love to crash the planes on the computer, and then press reset to get a new plane again,” Dan laughed.
Members of the club can be found flying their planes every Saturday and Sunday year round. In the winter, skis are placed on the wheels for landings.
“There’s always people out there,” Dan said. “They want to help everyone. I just can’t say enough good about them.”
He explained that there is no shortage of help for newcomers.
New hobbyists can learn with a buddy box, which is a duel controller that allows an instructor to get the plane off the ground and high into the air and then switch the controller to the learner.
“The hard part is the first time flying,” Ben said.
Dan said that flying the remote-controlled planes came very naturaly to Ben.
“He watches the planes, and his thumbs do the rest,” Dan said.
“There’s all different sizes of airplanes out there, from one-fourth and one-third scale to 6-foot plus wing spans,” Dan explained.
“Visitors and spectators are always welcome at the airfield,” Soley said. “Guests may fly when accompanied by a club member. The site/field is fully sanctioned by the Academy of Model Aeronautics.”
“Since 2004, every Saturday, members of the Crow River R/C Aeromodelers head to the field to fly their model airplanes,” Soley continued. “The club currently consists of 21 members, and we are always looking for new members to enjoy this great hobby with.”
Free flight lessons are provided the third Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon.
A picnic and “Fun Fly” is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 12 at 10:30 a.m. and is open to the public.
For more information about the club, visit www.crowriveraeromodelers.com.