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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow BUSH PILOTS SHARE SECRETS WITH STUDENTS



FLIGHT SCHOOL: Cory Caponetto, a Willow Elementary School second-grader, flies a radio-controlled plane at Courtright Field with the help of Dave Campbell of the Grande Ronde Bush Pilots. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
FLIGHT SCHOOL: Cory Caponetto, a Willow Elementary School second-grader, flies a radio-controlled plane at Courtright Field with the help of Dave Campbell of the Grande Ronde Bush Pilots. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Twelve Willow Elementary School students went to flight school. They didn't have time to earn their wings, but they did experience the thrill of helping make airplanes dip, climb and cruise.

And some of them might even go on to become pilots.

The students were at Courtright Field, where pilots soar without leaving the ground.

The field, two miles north of Hot Lake, is where radio-controlled scale-model airplanes are flown. Members of the Grande Ronde Bush Pilots shared the secrets of flying radio controlled planes with the students.

Based on the breathless expressions on the faces of many of the students, the club members succeeded in capturing the imaginations of more than a few children.

"We wanted to introduce them to the fun and excitement of flying. Several who started flying here when they were young went on to become commercial pilots,'' said Dave Campbell of the Grande Ronde Bush Pilots.

Radio controlled planes are flown with transmitters that send a signal to a receiver in the scale-model airplanes. Pilots manipulate control sticks to operate their planes.

Campbell let Willow students move the control sticks with him as he flew planes. The experience put their dexterity to the test.

"Kids pick this up well because their hand-eye coordination is better because they are younger'' said Campbell, the owner of the owner of the Hobby Habit.

Willow kindergarten student Damon Smaage said the chance to help fly the planes was the most enjoyable part of his experience Friday at Courtright Field.

Tim Thomas, a Willow fifth-grader, was impressed with how responsive the control sticks are.

"You barely tap it and the plane goes woooof,'' the fifth-grader said.

The plane that the Willow students helped fly reached about 300 to 400 feet above the valley floor. At no time did Campbell take his eyes off the plane he was flying.

"If you take your eyes off the plane, you will lose sight of it,'' Campbell said.

Pilots of the small planes cannot even look down at their control box.

"If you take your eye off the plane, you will turn around and think ‘where's the plane?' '' said Loren Wagoner of the Grande Ronde Bush Pilots.

He said that flying a plane is a little like touch typing, in that one does not have to look at the keyboard.

The need for intense concentration makes the activity challenging and appealing.

"You have to take your mind off whatever is bothering you. You have to,'' said Bush Pilots member Lonny Shoup.

He compared it to driving a car 200 miles an hour. A momentary lapse in concentration will doom the driver.

Shoup has been flying planes for just a month but he is hooked.

"I fell in love with it. It is addictive,'' he said.

In addition to Shoup, Campbell and Wagoner, Ron Kiesel, president of the Grande Ronde Bush Pilots, also assisted with Friday's instruction of the Willow students.


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