A look inside the world of RC airplanes

The White Hills Eagles Radio Control Club President, Dr. Carmen Luciano gave an inside look to where he does the repairs/building of his model airplanes. Most would refer to the lower level of Luciano’s home on Navajo Loop as a basement, but with an array of model airplanes suspending from the ceiling, hanging from the wall, and a desk full of tools for repairs, others could argue it to be more of a workshop.

When he is not on the field flying or in his workshop modifying one of his dozen planes, Luciano is an active podiatrist in Monroe and has been for 36 years. He says working with his hands on patients coincides with his ability to work on his planes.

Luciano’s interest in RC planes stems from his uncle Salvatore Skippa who was most known for his 52 missions as a bombardier during WWII. Skippa was a major in the U.S. Air Force from 1941-1945. He now owns a the same model plane that his uncle flew in combat which is a P-24.

He said he has been flying model planes for 20 years and has since learned to construct

RC planes from a “box of sticks,” which is a box with all of the parts unassembled.

“When I come home from the office I usually work on my planes for a few hours,” said Luciano. “It’s really my way of relaxing.”

Luciano said the club has around 48 active members with the average age being around 53 years old, but ranging as low as 9.

The club was founded 10 years ago by Luciano, John Ellison, Wesley Wheeler and Andrew Figler. It was recently accorded thru the Planning and Zoning commission of Shelton to extend evening flying times (for electronic plane use only) at the Stern’s family farm to accommodate the working class members.

Figler said he wants people to know that the planes they fly are safe, quiet, educational, and fun for all ages.

"They are not expensive anymore since the technology has rapidly progressed to that point," said Figler. "Anyone can learn."

Flying high

On Monday-Friday members and guests are permitted to fly their gas planes from 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. and their electric planes from 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. (electric planes are much more quiet).

On Saturday members and guests are permitted to fly their gas planes from 10 a.m.- 1 p.m. and their electric planes from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.

On Sunday members and guests are permitted to fly their gas planes from 10 a.m.- 12 p.m. and their electric planes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

According to the club’s website, penalties will be placed on anyone who flies outside of these set times.

A look at the growing collection

A water plane, a plane built specifically for the snow, some specifically for speed, and others that are in the process of being built are what you can expect to see when entering this workshop in Luciano’s home. He has won several awards for his planes.

Building some of these planes is no quick process, he explained. One of the planes he exhibited took him almost two years to complete. Others are known as A.R.F’s, which stands for “Almost Ready to Fly,” which can be put together in a matter of days.

Technology is changing the dynamics

Luciano explained that most people who are serious about the hobby are purchasing more electric planes rather than the gas powered models. He said the electric ones are less maintenance v.s the gas powered ones which require a tedious process to take out and fly.

He is already planning to convert a few of his gas powered planes over to battery powered.

The type of plane is not the only thing that has advanced since Luciano first picked up the hobby. Along with advancements made to the type of planes which saves the RC pilots gas, Luciano explained that the frequency system used on the remote controls has also improved dramatically.

“I can now control any of my planes with the same remote,” said Luciano. “When I switch the frequency to a specific plane that is the only one that I will be able to fly at that time. It’s ultimately saving people from jamming the frequencies and crashing their planes.”

As the technology allows pilots to fly more freely, restrictions are also implemented for safety reasons. Pilots are ordered by the Federal Aviation Administration to keep all flying objects below 400 feet when in five miles of a full scale airport.

At the field the club uses for flying they don’t have that restriction, but Luciano said it’s difficult to see the plane if you go much higher anyways.

He recalls flying a plane to about 600 feet and has performed tricks such as barrel rolls and other maneuvers.

RC passion expands further than just planes

With numerous planes on display, he also owns several RC boats and a helicopter that he flies indoors. He also said the hobby is something that he does when he goes out of state to Vermont.

Dr. Luciano said the club is constantly encouraging other members to join and for more information people can visit their website http://www.whitehillseaglesrc.org/