WACO, Texas — Sixty-five pilots from various corners of the state and country gathered at Speegleville Park Saturday for a Texas Miniature Aircraft Club fly day fundraiser.
The event gives the pilots, of both full and partial build handmade aircrafts, the chance to fly their aircrafts into the air from the 800' x 80' asphalt runway, while enjoying food and comradery amongst their fellow pilots.
TMAC's media representative, Corey Streza, summed up the event, saying, "It's basically a bunch of guys that get together for a hobby."
Through generous donations, it raised funds for a $1,000 scholarship program, further matched by the state of Texas. This scholarship is dedicated to supporting second-year students in the Texas State Technical College Pilot Program.
The aircraft showcased at the event ran on various fuels, including diesel, jet fuel, and kerosene. These aircraft's engines allowed pilots to experience the joy of flight for brief but exhilarating intervals, lasting between 5 to 10 minutes each.
The club started back in 1964, with the first flights taking off in Cameron Park.
Streza, who has been a pilot for 27 years and got into the hobby in 2010, explained the diversity of skills and interests within the club. "Some guys enjoy building the aircrafts, the guys who are more engineers," Streza noted. "Some guys who are more like pilots like to put the aircrafts together quicker and go fly."
Streza said there are indicators on the handheld transmitters that help the pilots navigate their aircrafts. There are also readings for temperature of the engine, speed, fuel "but it's not like being inside an airplane, you're flying off feel and experience," Streza said.
The aircraft were equipped with handheld transmitters featuring indicators to assist pilots in navigation. These transmitters also provided readings for engine temperature, speed, and fuel levels. However, as Streza pointed out, flying these miniature aircraft is a unique experience, quite distinct from being inside a full-sized airplane, relying heavily on feel and experience.
One of the TMAC members, Steven Ellzey, shared his enthusiasm for flying sport model planes at the event, describing it as "generally something really fun to fly." Ellzey explained his takeoff strategy, positioning the aircraft in the center of the runway and accelerating for "reasonable airspeed." Once in the air, he emphasized the need to think several seconds ahead, considering the aircraft's positioning and next maneuvers.
The fly day festivities kicked off around 10:30 a.m. and continued until approximately 5 p.m.