August 23, 2023

Giant scale model fly-in

Jon Robinson

— By Phil Lightstone

The KRCM Giant Scale Rally 2023 “Size Does Matter” event was another success for the 35th straight year. The Kingston Radio Control Modelers (KRCM) received its SOC from Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) and was able host the Kingston Giant Scale Rally on August 19 and 20, 2023, at the KRCM flying field near Kingston, Ontario.

To facilitate the event, KRCM offered online registration for R/C pilots. Online registration was closed on Wednesday with 71 pilots and 200 giant scale model aircraft registered. With the popularity of the event, camping space and parking was at a premium. Modelers travelled from Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, the United States and other faraway locations to attend the event. Many KRCM members not only volunteered but also flew their giant scale model aircraft. There were 65 pilots, 81 model aircraft and approximately 125 guests in attendance.

For flyers, the cost of the weekend is $20. There is no cost for spectators and volunteers. The weekend event featured on-site camping, a dinner on Saturday night ($25 per ticket), a live local band on Saturday night as well as fun flying during Saturday and Sunday. During the day, volunteers were busy with cooking breakfast and lunch, featuring their famous Egg McRolly’s (a tip of the hat to long-time KRCM member Rolly Siemonsen). Commemorative t-shirts were available for purchase during the event.

With the loss by MAAC of Transport Canada’s exemption to CARs Section IX, American R/C enthusiasts were accommodated at the KRCM flying field by joining MAAC with a 90-day temporary membership; write (and pass) Transport Canada’s RPS exam; and obtaining a Transport Canada Special Flight Operating Certificate (SFOC). The KRCM provided the necessary links to Transport Canada’s website to help guide the foreign RC pilot through their Canadian regulatory obligations.

Andre Robillard, Tony Davis and I (members of COPA Flight 44 and the Buttonville Flying Club) travelled to the event on Saturday from Toronto. With the use of the Kingston Flying Club’s courtesy car, we were able to travel to the KRCM’s flying field, located just north of Odessa ON (about a 20 minute drive north west of Kingston). Tony Davis reports: “the pilots were extremely talented and the level of detail to scale was incredible. These guys take their hobby seriously and really talented pilots.”

Saturday saw high winds at Kingston (CYGK was reporting winds at 290 degrees 10 gusting 15 knots). The winds at the KRCM flying field, for most of the day, was a healthy cross wind on the pristine grass model aircraft aerodrome. For radio controlled model aircraft, the gusts, cross winds combined with trees on two sides of the field and the pit area (MAAC and KRCM safety rules preclude flying models over or behind the pit area), the conditions were challenging for all but the most competent aviators. But these conditions did not deter many of the attendees from flying. Owen Penk flew his scale P51 Mustang (inclusive retractable landing gear), which was a hit with the crowd.

Sadly, the P51 was damaged during a “hot” landing, because of going off the end of the field. Owen was able to repair the landing gear and flew the aircraft later that evening. Brian Perkins flew his Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c World War 1 single engine two seat biplane used for reconnaissance, light bomber, night fighter, training and coastal patrol aircraft. Brian flew the B.E.2c on Saturday, but the inherent design of the aircraft makes it a “hairy” flier in high gusty crosswinds. While Brian flew the B.E.2c without incident, it was not a comfortable flight for the modeler, risking thousands of hours invested into the building of this scale model. On Sunday afternoon, a Carbon Cub giant scale model went into the trees at the east end of the field and was damaged.

Saturday night dinner was catered by a local Kingston business with a meal consisting of chicken and pork souvlaki skewers, baked potato, corn on the cob, dinner rolls, cake for dessert and coffee, tea or pop to drink. Jay Kingston, Kingston Giant Scale Rally Event Coordinator reports: “Everyone was very satisfied with the meal and I didn’t hear any complaints”.

Sunday saw more favorable winds at the KRCM’s flying field, with more modellers flying their giant scale model aircraft than on Saturday. High gusty winds, with a large crosswind component can be challenging for lightweight model aircraft and requires exceptional skill to ensure that the aircraft is not damaged due to a bad landing. As a R/C model aircraft instructor, I would let students know that at some point, they will “re-kit” their models, unless they hang them up. Crashing and fixing are just part of the hobby. Fortunately, there were very few model aircraft crashes during the weekend.

Save the date for the 36th annual KRCM Giant Scale Rally 2023 “Size Does Matter” event to be held on August 17 and 18, 2024. The event offers great food, cool model aircraft, excellent comradery and social events. To really experience the event, you might consider camping at the flying field for the weekend. You won’t be disappointed with the experience.