The RC (Radio Controlled) Flyer Club was started in the Spring of 2011 when a fourth-grade student asked a staff member for help with the directions for building an RC airplane he received for Christmas. He brought it to school and worked on it during his recess. Other students became interested in learning not just how to fly, but alsothe history of airplanes in Alaska, and how to build and the mechanics of flying model aircraft.
When summer arrived, this group continued to meet on their own to talk, build and fly RC aircraft. With the start of the new school year, teacher Norm Cosgrove approached the school district with an idea and the Delta Greely RC Fliers became affiliated with what was then Fort Greely Middle School. This group has grown in popularity, with 20 active members in the sixth through 12 grades and a waiting list of over 30 students who want to participate. RC Flyers has become a group of leaders who are actively involved in the community, whose grades are all above average, and who have no disciplinary referrals. If grades or behavior expectations are not met, they lose membership and go on the “waiting list.”
Perhaps the Club President in 2011, a nine-year-old fourth grader named Makenna Paine, said it best when asked by a teacher to explain to the class what fight club is. She spoke for ten minutes about being school leaders and how Mr. Cosgrove had instilled confidence in her, where she now felt she could do anything, with hard work and effort. She continued to speak about grades, behaviors, and the expectations that needed to be met to be a school and community leader. She spoke of the internal success she now felt as a student and leader of the school community, and her dream of becoming a commercial pilot. When this story was relayed, there was barely a dry eye in the room.
At the junior high, small groups meet a few times per week to learn about scientific principles of flight and design, as well as the use of electronic circuitry, micro-servo mechanisms, and the modern 2.4Ghz radio frequencies used for radio-controlled flight. Students use this knowledge to construct actual RC flying models, which are then used for direct application during Flight Club. Students also have the ability to work on, take apart, and learn the actual construction of a real aircraft as well as the working of the internal mechanics and gauges.
Flight Club, also known by their official Academy of Model Aeronautics name of Delta-Greely RC Flyers Club, is the aviation side of the club. Once students pass their take-off and landing tests on the flight simulator – for which they receive a pilot’s license and wings – they are allowed actual flight time using RC model aircraft. As student skills increase, they receive upgrades to their license, ranging from trainers to 3D aerobatics.
Since this club was started, it has been included in two state education magazine articles and many local newspaper stories, and continues to be a face in the community. The National Education Association (NEA) even sent a production team to Alaska to do a television info spot that plays on television. It can also be viewed on YouTube by searching Delta Greely RC Fliers Club.
In 2017, the club received $4,000 as part of a three-year Department of Defense grant for the Science, Technology Engineering, Math (STEM) projects that are incorporated into the school system.
RC Flyers has grown to be so much more than from where it started; becoming a place of personal and educational growth, providing a positive youth group activity in our community and creating enthusiastic ambassadors for aviation state-wide. The club’s working relationship with the UAF’s Unmanned Aerial Systems program teaches students the main structures of aeronautical engineering, as well as the 2.4 ghz electronic systems.
Careers in Unmanned Aerial Systems are booming, both in the US and overseas as drones are used more and more frequently in varied degrees – everything from military uses to construction. Such drones are currently being used around the globe to monitor driverless tractors in agriculture, aide in geological surveying, monitor wildlife fires, assist in natural disaster relief, and aide in oil and mineral exploration, among other things.
Flight Club also now provides a free online Aviation 101 course from Embry-Riddle University and a few online video lessons from the Navy and Airforce, so students who participate can learn a bit from real pilots who fly the big planes.
If you’ve missed Aviation Day in the past, it is a day for kids of all ages to enjoy. The 3-D printers, displayed last year to show the public how they operate, are being utilized to create spare parts for the club’s drones, which break fairly often and can be costly to replace. The printers will be fired-up, so be sure to swing by and see for yourself how they work.
Last year’s fun incorporated aviation activities that included how to make the perfect paper airplane, a simulator flight, and patrons flying drones themselves. New activities include cutting-edge technology in the form of micro drones, three camera drones, and a new 35-foot long practice flying tent. Straw rockets, balsa gliders, flight demonstrations and simulators, and much more will also be available to entertain.
Aviation day is Saturday, April 13 at the Delta High School gym. The doors open at 10 a.m. Age appropriate activities kick off for grades K-2 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., grades 3-5 from 1 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. There is a $5 entry fee at the door and proceeds go to the RC Flyers Club.