They look, sound and fly like the real thing. But the airplanes flying over Merrill, Wis. could easily fit inside your living room.
Jack Borkam is a member of the Merrill AC Flyers. That's a group of local model airplane enthusiasts. The group's members get together to pool their resources, building and flying small planes through the big sky.
"You see the airplane out in the air when it's flying and there's a great deal of accomplishment; Dad pats you on the back and it's just good fun" said Tom Borkam at the Merrill Model RC Flyer flying park, N3964 State Hwy. 64 Merrill, Wis.
And though it may be fun, Borkam says it's an even better way to teach about engineering and science.
"When you're building you're learning something about following directions of a plan, fitting pieces together, finding out about structure of engines. They'll also learn something about aerodynamics and what makes an airplane fly" Borkam said.
You'll also get a first hand lesson in meteorology. A sudden wind shift can quickly turn a perfect landing into a hard-learned learning experience.
"That's one of the fun things. We share our knowledge with each other, teaching someone to fly or teaching them how to re-build their airplane if they crash it which happens sometimes if you fly" Borkam said.
Borkam says the club offers free demonstrations every Tues. nights at its flying field in Merrill. First time flyers are given what's called a buddy cord. You'll be at the controls, but a trained member of the club will have master control so if you need help, they can take over.
"So they don't have to worry about crashing because if they crash and I've got the main control, then it's my fault if it crashes, it's really my responsibility" Borkam said with a smile.
According to R/C Airplane World there are 26 model airplane clubs in Wis. Here is contact information for clubs in Central Wis.
Merrill RC Flyers, Merrill, Wis. www.members.tripod.com/merrillflyers/main.htm
Wausau R/C Sportsmen, Wausau, Wis. www.wausaurcsportsmen.org
River Valley Flyers, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. www.rvfrc.com
For a list of all 26 model airplane clubs in Wis. follow this link: http://www.rc-airplane-world.com/wisconsin-rc-airplane-clubs.html
For a map on how to get to the Merrill Flying Field follow this link: http://merrillflyers.tripod.com/map.htm