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Up, up and away!

Nitro Engine Planes

by Myka Isabel D. Basco

Popular author of the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis once said,

“When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

In our interpretation, no one is too old to do the things they enjoy to live a fulfilling and satisfying life. And so the popular expression goes, “boys will be boys”, many of them, instead of abandoning the child in them, has decided to drag that child out and hand them more mature versions of their old toys.

A vivid example would be when the love of flying a paper plane during childhood is now converted into a Remote Control Plane, a hobby which many find serious interest in just like Dennis M. Baltazar, Managing Director and CEO of Sentinel Credit Information Service, an aviator, a private pilot, part of Radio Control Aviation Community (RCAC) and a common interest group of remote control (R/C) hobbyist within Quezon City that flies Nitro-gas powered airplanes and helicopters.

“I have been flying RC planes for 18 years now, since 1995 way back in Vista Real Subdivision in Commonwealth Fairview Quezon City with Mr. Larry Favis who was my flight instructor then. At that time the subdivision was just being developed and was an ideal location for the RC group to fly and take advantage of the development of the roads and pavements perfect for RC runway. The Vista Real RC group averaged about 20 fliers at the most,” Baltazar said. Up to now he is actively engaged in the remote control aviation hobby passing on the tradition of furthering the passion to others with same interest.

The passion of flying grew in me and became an obsession when my sister bought me my first Remote Control Plane, a big yellow high wing. I flew it, studied its configuration and design. I started to build my own RC planes from scratch. At that time, cost of an RC plane is quite high and to enjoy and make the most of what you have is to learn to repair and create your own stuff.

Nature Trip
Flying your RC in the beautiful blue sky and landing it in the perfect green grass of the runway makes a perfect view of nature in totality. You tend to appreciate nature more when you see your RC plane hovering and flying. It is like communing and getting in touch with Mother Nature. What makes it more exciting is the challenge of landing your RC Plane in different wind conditions.

Special Discipline
Flying RC Planes involves a different level of discipline. Not everyone can instantly enjoy flying. It is learned. It requires mastery of skill. It has something to do with knowing the maxims and dynamics of flight. It’ll make you think why it flies, lands and floats differently with other RC planes.

Aside from the total enjoyment and high in flying, there are a lot of benefits that you can get from this hobby like:

Flying an RC plane as a hobby is a form of an anti-stress activity. It makes you enjoy what you are doing. It relieves you from whatever pressures there is be it your business or employment. It is also a way to meet different people and culture; build networking relationships. Before you know it, you already have a community consists of people with common interests continuously providing knowledge and interest with fellow flyers.

Social Network
In my experience, our RC group has become a center of business opportunities where RC buddies can complement business requirements. The RC community is rich in talents and faculties of professionals, lawyers, career government officials, commercial pilots, general aviation pilots, businessmen of different industries and many more. So in full equation, the RC community is a source of leisure and business networking opportunities.

To those aspiring flyers, there are numerous organizations of RC Planes nationwide that you could look up to. These are called RC Clubs and they are also big in population such as Flyers in Cebu and Dumaguete from the South. Northern areas are the Bulacan, Pulilan Flyers and ACFC in Angeles Magalang Pampanga.

When it comes to expenses, Dennis shared that the price of the plane is relative; meaning, it depends on the following:

A. The construction and make -either balsa wood or Foam or EPP

B. The engine requirement either Gasoline engine, Nitro engine or Electric powered

C. The size of the plane (span, length)

D. The Radio Equipment – Number of Channels of the radio

“An RC enthusiast would often ask himself what is his gearing or degree of pursuing the interest. If the flier is serious, we recommend that he invest in a good mid-range radio. The aircraft of choice is up to the flier and it goes with stages of development or learning curve,” he added.

In the 80’s and 90’s, they all started learning with Nitro planes. It was a bit costly because crashing was inevitable during the learning process. Building it costs a lot too.

In today’s time, electric planes are readily available. That makes it easier for the flier to learn faster and with nominal costs. After learning the fundamentals of flying, the hobbyist will mature to a higher level of skill and will opt to decide to pursue a different power-plant setting such as nitro, gas or simply maintaining the electric platform but with a higher electric power-plant.

Below is an estimate of costs:

Nitro Engine Planes
The costs estimate (ready to fly) of the planes are between P5,000 to P12,000 for wing span up to 63 inches.

Higher Power plant / Gas
The cost estimate (ready to fly) is from P25,000 to P80,000 depends on the quality of engine and complementing electronics (receiver, servo etc). The average wing span is 80 inches with at least 30 CC gas engine.

Electric planes
Electric planes ready to fly cost estimate are from P3,500 to P10,000 depending to the motors and electronic set-up.

Radio Equipment
Depends on the brand of the radio acquired and the number of channel assignments.

Low-end radio with minimum 5 channels – P6,000
Midrange to High-end – 5 above channels with complex control parameters – P15,000 to P25,000

Competition Radio with extensive control parameters – P120,000.00