West Baden recognized as historic flying site

More than two dozen Indoor Free Flight pilots convened for the third annual Jim Richmond Open, named for the eight-time world champion. The event took place on March 26-27 at the historic West Baden Springs Hotel in West Baden Springs, Indiana. The beautiful domed atrium saw pilots flying various classes of aircraft, including F1L, Pennyplane, and of course, F1D.  

The weekend was filled with record-breaking flights, including 2 national records set by Alexander Welter and Ross Clements. The standout characteristic of this event, however, was how it introduced so many new faces, both young and old, to this incredible aeromodeling discipline. Hotel patrons were greeted with signs describing our hobby and explaining how these ultralight aircraft fly. Children stared at the ceiling as MiniSticks circled above their heads and adults asked the competitors how they built such delicate models. Every pilot was willing and excited to share his or her knowledge with anyone who asked. 

Of course, flying was the reason most had gathered in West Baden on this particular weekend, but there was other business to be had. Specifically, West Baden Springs Hotel had been nominated by the National Free Flight Society (NFFS) to be named a National Aeromodeling Historic Site as part of the AMA’s National Aeromodeling Heritage Program.

NFFS President David Lindley joined AMA President Rich Hanson to present the award to the hotel, which has hosted Indoor Free Flight competitions, including world championships, since 1967. West Baden Springs Hotel is only the eighth recognized historic site, joining venues such as Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, Lakehurst Naval Air Station, and Torrey Pines on this prestigious list. 

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