Flying Site Assistance Case-Study
Vern Mall of Washington, Illinois, shares a flying site story.
“My name is Vern Mall and I am the president of the Washington R/C Flyers, Inc. (WR/CF) in District VI in Washington, Illinois. Our current membership is 46 pilots. We were formerly named Summit Valley RIC Flyers.
This name change was brought about because of the relationship we have cultivated with the City of Washington. We vacated our flying site of 14 years last summer because of the construction of a house that would be in our flight pattern. Our search for a new site began roughly mid-year and we looked at many potential sites but rejected most for various reasons including safety. One of our members noted that the City of Washington owned land east of town that it had purchased for flood control. We contacted two of the city aldermen and they were favorable of our idea and suggested that we make a presentation to the city council. We put together a PowerPoint presentation and gave it at a city council meeting.
The councilmen, mayor, city administrator, city engineer, and city attorney were impressed and the council moved and approved the city administrator to work with us on a lease agreement. We went to the Tazwell County Zoning Board and were approved for a special-use permit to construct a runway, club house, maintenance building, and a vault toilet. This was completed in December. The area of the special-use permit contains 57 acres of overfly area, five acres of which the club will lease from the city. The remainder of the 57 acres is farmed by a person who leases it from the city. We have talked to the farmer and adjacent land owners and all are favorable to being neighbors with us. We had no objectors at the zoning meeting because of the groundwork that was laid with all parties concerned.
The club has applied for an AMA grant for flying site assistance and Charlie Bauer has informed me that he has signed it and forwarded it to AMA Headquarters. We have also requested a grant and/or discount from our local RP Lumber Co. where we intend to purchase the materials for the building construction. We have also sold bonds to our membership to obtain enough funds to improve this ‘cornfield’ into a flying site and home that all can be proud of. We have had many comments about our former site, saying that it looked like a park-always neat, in a valley setting with deer, wild turkey, rabbits, squirrels, ground hogs, coyotes, and one skunk! Last spring, one of our members landed near the end of the runway and a wild turkey came out of the undergrowth in full strut, and headed for his colorful airplane. We still don’t know if the turkey did this thinking it was another turkey since this incident occurred during breeding season.
We signed the lease with the City of Washington at the end of the city council meeting. We had seven members present, one of whom is our unofficial club photographer, Don Pyles. We planted grass seed on the five acres days later.