Broken Wings

Madison model airplane club
to hold annual fly-in at JPG

By Michele Turner
Contributing Writer

(September 2006) – There’s a group of friendly guys (and a few women) hanging out at Jefferson Proving Ground. They’ve been around for decades, but you probably haven’t heard of them. They’d like to change that. The Madison Broken Wings Model Airplane Club will welcome you with open arms.

Bill Widmayer plane

Photo by Michele Turner

Club member Bill Widmayer
built this plane from scratch.

In fact, they invite the public to join them for the largest event they stage all year – the ninth annual Amy Critchlow Memorial Fly-In on Saturday, Sept. 16 at the Jefferson Proving Ground. The fly-in begins at 10 a.m. and lasts until dusk. This event is free to spectators who are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.
There will be a concession stand with a variety of food for sale. The public is invited to try their hand at flying a remote-controlled airplane.
In addition to promoting the sport, this event raises money for the club to keep up on maintenance of the field.
The fly-in is named in memory of Amy Critchlow, the teenaged daughter of club members Ken and Joy Critchlow who died of leukemia.
The Madison Club has been in existence since the early 1970s. They currently have 19 active members. Their flying site is at JPG on land owned by Dean Ford.
“He doesn’t charge us anything, just lets us use it out of the goodness of his heart,” said club member Charlie Hatchel. This allows them to keep their membership dues low at $25 for an individual or $30 for a family.
The field is always open, but the club has two scheduled times each week when they gather to fly their planes together – 1 p.m. Sundays and 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays.
Wednesdays are training night when the experienced flyers show newcomers how to fly the planes. The training process involves hooking two radios together so the trainer can take control with the flip of a switch if the trainee is having trouble. “That saves a lot of wings and motors,” said club president Charles McCormick.
McCormick also says “this hobby is addictive.”
With 47 model airplanes, he should know. Planes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Trainer planes top out at about 60 mph, while smaller planes can go up to 130-140 mph. They run on a premixed fuel.
The planes can be purchased over the Internet, new or used. Thousands can be found on eBay. They are also sold at hobby shops, including McCormick’s C&S Hobbies on Hwy. 421 not far from the Jefferson Proving Ground entrance.
You can buy a basic used plane ready to fly with radio and motor for $300 to $400. There are also kits you may purchase and assemble. The really industrious hobbyist can build one from scratch.
Bill Widmayer of Carrollton, Ky., has done just that. Widmayer has been flying model planes for decades and has many stories to tell – such as the time he sliced his finger completely open while working on his plane and just glued it back together himself.
“That’s all a doctor would have done,” quipped Widmayer.
The club encourages people to come out and try this sport. “This is a very sociable club and a good family thing,” said McCormick.
It has become popular all around the country, these club members say. Regionally, there are clubs in Scottsburg, Otisco, North Vernon and Greensburg. Louisville has two big clubs with 300-400 members.
Most participants are members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). AMA is the world’s largest sport aviation organization, representing more than 170,000 members. One of its most important services is to provide a number of different types of insurance to its members.

• For more information on this event and the Madison Broken Wings Model Airplane Club, call Charles McCormick at (812) 273-5891.

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