It’s that time of year when more than 20 AMA members and Control Line enthusiasts from at least 14 states and France arrive in Oshkosh, Wisconsin to share their model flying passion with thousands of attendees visiting KidVenture at EAA AirVenture.
It’s a special anniversary year for this group of tireless volunteers as they will be celebrating 20 years of bringing hands-on control line flying to AirVenture July 25 – 31.
It all began three years before there was a KidVenture. Members of the Milwaukee Circle Masters Club began offering free control line flights to children attending AirVenture. With no activities specifically for children at AirVenture, Sean Elliott, AMA member and EAA Director, saw the need and encouraged the group to offer the informal flights on a corner of the museum grounds.
By the time KidVenture became a reality, the Control Line volunteers from clubs across the country were giving over 2,000 flights during the week. Today, more than 25,000 children and adults, from 5 months to 98 years old representing all 50 states and well over 60 foreign countries have tried Control Line flying. Some of those children have gone on to fly competitively at national and world levels, as well as pursued careers in aviation.
To handle the workload of 3,000 flights during the week, three volunteers from the St. Louis area designed a new airplane named the “Tough Baby.” The airplane is made from abandoned political signs and free hardware store yardsticks. The design proved so successful that only one of the original five airplanes has been lost; the others are still flying.
The group now gives away “Tough Baby” plans so the model flying fun can continue after AirVenture. Last year they emailed over 400 sets of plans to interested families.
Every year people visit the Control Line flying area and share stories of the many hours they spent as children flying models.
Co-chairs of the control line volunteers are Melissa Olson and Geri MacArthur. As you read this story, Geri and her husband Doug are winging their way to AirVenture in their homebuilt RV-9A from their home 2,000 miles away in Seattle.