Reno Radio Control Club Introduces Local Youth to Model Aviation

How can we involve kids in model aviation if they are only interested in video games, cell phones, and computers? Many clubs ask themselves that same question. Lanny Shorts is a long-time member, contest director, avid modeler, and also a member of the Reno Radio Control Club. This past summer, the club was able to introduce over one-hundred kids to the hobby. For a single day event, that is quite impressive. In Lanny’s article below, he has provided his club’s solution to getting kids away from the TV screen, and out to the flying field!


The first sentence in the book, “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster, reads: “There once was a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself-not just sometimes, but always.”  This sentence could just have well read; “There once was a girl named Jane…”  Today many boys and girls, just like Milo, don’t know what to do with themselves and become immersed in either video games or whatever may be on their laptops. And let us not forget cell phones. We read of the continual plight of ‘diminishing entrances into model aviation’, and ‘what can we do to turn that around?’. Just as the “Phantom Tollbooth” was the answer for Milo, our “Phantom Tollbooth” may be what the Reno Radio Control Club, in Reno, Nevada, did at The Truckee Tahoe Family Festival and Air Show, held in Truckee, California last July, 2017 (Truckee is 35 miles west of Reno). Besides having the usual display of RC models, raffle prizes for the visitors, and hopefully a flying demonstration, they decided to have a hands-on building session of a rubber powered flying model for the kids attending the air show. I suggested using the AMA Delta Darts as the building project. One of the members, Dan Mitchell, said he would donate the Darts and oversee the building of them. Each of the kits had the sticks pre-cut to correct lengths ahead of time to avoid the use of razor blades by the kids. Four of the members worked from 9:15am until 3:45pm, helping 135 young people, ages 5 to 14, build their own model aircraft. For most of them this was the first time they had seen or built anything from a set of plans. I think the best compliments came from the parents who were so grateful at having a group of guys spend much considerate, patient time with each child in having this experience. Could our ‘Phantom Tollbooth’ be in the exposing of kids to the wonderful joy of building and flying their own model aircraft? No doubt there are other Milo’s out there hoping to find their own “Phantom Tollbooth”. It could well be found in model aviation. Oh, I just happened to think: There may be many who haven’t read the “Phantom Tollbooth”. It’s about a boy (maybe 6-10 years old) who has a small peddle car. He ends up driving through a magical tollbooth and is exposed to many wonderful adventures that he had never expected.

-Lanny Shorts, AMA 2945

This is a wonderful example of a club that has reached out to the community, and provided valuable time and skills to share their love for the hobby with others. If your club would like to host a similar outreach event, the AMA Education Department has many resources to help you get started. For more information, please visit Here you will find guidance for hosting a local event, kid-friendly ideas and activities, the Take-Off & Grow grant application, and more articles and tips submitted by our clubs.

One comment

  1. I was one of the instructors with the Reno Radio Control Club. We helped build about 75 rubber powered planes that day, to the joy of all the youth and young adults that came to our booth. It was a fun and rewarding day for all of us. We, as a club, have participated in the Truckee air show for many years, but the past couple we have not been able to put on our trademark demonstration flights due to FAA regulations. We have been forced to find alternative ways of interacting with the crowd. This was one of our ideas that was a big hit.

    Scott Mooney
    Reno Radio Control Club
    Reno, Nevada

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