Recently we were contacted by Charles Mackey a member of the Valley Wide RC Electric Club. Charles wanted to share some letters that the club received after a program they did for their local Winchester Elementary School 4th graders. The VWRCEC host these programs several times a year in their area. They get the kids together and help get them excited about model aviation. Follow the link “Love Letters” to read what the kids had to say! Below is a piece written by club member Tim Bailiff explaining the program that they do.
It was a holiday treat for young and old, as once again the Valley Wide RC Electric Club (VWRCEC), in Winchester California, had the pleasure of hosting a model airplane program and demonstration. This time, fourth grade students from Winchester Elementary School, which is just steps away from our flying field, joined us on December 13, 2011. School staff members and parent volunteers lead the 30 student participants over to join us at our indoor facility. Both our indoor and outdoor facilities are operated by the Valley Wide Recreation and Park District.
This latest event concludes our fourth year of presenting a model aviation program to the area’s local students. As has become the custom, we host two to three of these programs each year. For all of us club members, interacting with the kids brings back fond memories of when we were kids ourselves and first introduced to aero modeling.
Our program is very basic as most of the boys and girls have had little or no exposure to model aircraft. Initial conversations held with the nearby elementary school staff was met with enthusiasm. It was agreed that the school would allow the students two hours away from their usual studies, to learn about aviation. To help keep the kids interested, we instruct and demonstrate the fundamentals of flight using simple balsa gliders.
This particular Tuesday morning was cloudy and cold. Once the kids were all assembled inside, they were greeted and introduced to the participating club members. Next a quick explanation and demonstration was given so as to familiarize them with how an airplane flies. They were then divided into groups and told to go to one of four tables. Each table was numbered which represented their group number as well.
At the tables, the kids found balsa gliders for each them to assemble and fly. Several club members had been assigned to each table to assist in the assembly process. They were also the flying instructors as well. Once the gliders were finished, the kids were told to put their names on the wing. Then, with gliders in hand, all the kids were instructed to lined up and gently launch them. The idea was to adjust them for the best glide possible.
Well, being true to their natures, what followed was not completely unexpected. I couldn’t help but laugh as 30 gliders filled the air and sheer pandemonium ensued. Although it hadn’t gone exactly as planned, we had to love their enthusiasm. After a short free for all, we reined them in a bit and started the glider trimming process.
The kids were told the best glider and pilot would receive a ribbon and be the representative for that group. Everyone else would become an important part of the flight crew. We explained further that the groups would then compete in a flying competition, to see who had the best glider flight overall. A winning flight would entitle that group to a special first place ribbon.
The inside facility in which we fly is a large gym with a high balcony. Along with an instructor, each of the four group representatives climbed the stairs and took their position fifteen feet above. The mission objective, for the four pilots, was to launch their gliders in such a way, that it would land closest to the wall on the opposite side of the gym. That wall was about 80 feet away. The job of the flight crews was to mark each flight with a numbered piece of tape, run the glider back to an area beneath the balcony and then clip it onto a cord which had a clothespin attached. The glider was then quickly hoisted up, adjusted as necessary and once again launched.
At the sound of a whistle, the flights began. Further and further the planes flew, as the instructors helped each pilot fine tune their glider. As for the flight crew members, we soon found that the most important job for them, was to simply not step on the gliders! After ten minutes of grueling competition, the whistle was again blown and all flights were halted. It had been agreed, that after the whistle, each team would make one final flight. As luck would have it, team # 1 made the winning flight. Hey, that was our group! When it was announced which pilot made the winning toss, you should have seen her smile! Her entire group smiled too as they proudly accepted their first place ribbons.
Now it was time for pictures. First, all four representative pilots, had their collective pictures taken. Next the entire winning group had its picture taken while displaying their ribbons. By the way, did I mention that was our group? Then came the large group pictures, in which everyone was included.
Afterward, it was door prize time. These prizes were awarded by pulling a name from a hat and letting that student pick something from the prize table. Then, that student would pick the next name from the hat. Everyone was excited as we had some really nice things for the kids. As you might expect, we had model planes, but also some attractive necklaces and other jewelry as well.
All too soon, it neared time for the kids to go. As has been the practice in the past, we put on an abbreviated, but fun, R/C air show. Our indoor flying demonstration included a really nice variety of aircraft including, a number of commercial RTFs, several helicopters, and some original airplane designs as well. The final flight was an acrobatic demonstration put on by one of our most proficient pilots. As usual, each flight was met with smiles, cheers and applause. Good job guys!
VWRCE would like to thank the Valley Wide Recreation and Park District for the continued use of both their inside and outside facilities here in Winchester. We would also like to thank Winchester Elementary School for allowing their students to share some quality time with us. As much as the students seem to enjoy these events, I assure you we club members enjoy them as well. As a bonus, it seems the kids help keep our spirits young too. Our hope is that we inspired at least a few of them to take up this great hobby and perhaps become future aviators themselves. And who knows, maybe Santa even got a few ideas from our program as well. Fun stuff…
Proud Member VWRCE