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Remote control hobbyists take flight indoors

Whitehorse's Rob Veres has a passion for flight, but he never leaves the ground when pursuing it. His enthusiasm lies in remote control airplanes. He owns numerous battery-powered planes for indoor flight and gas-powered ones for outdoor.

Whitehorse’s Rob Veres has a passion for flight, but he never leaves the ground when pursuing it.

His enthusiasm lies in remote control airplanes. He owns numerous battery-powered planes for indoor flight and gas-powered ones for outdoor.

His workshop is like a miniature version of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, with more than a half-dozen remote controlled planes suspended up in the rafters.

Veres hopes his enthusiasm for remote control flight is contagious. He is doing his best to get others interested in the hobby.

Since October, Veres and other hobbyists have met at the Canada Games Centre on Fridays to operate their remote control planes and helicopters in the Fieldhouse.

Bring your remote control device, or nothing at all. Veres provides people a chance to try flying without first having to spend the money.

“I told (the games centre) I would help show people how to fly,” said Veres. “I can only help a few every night. But I’m providing my own trainer to help them do that, to help people get into the hobby.”

“Lots of people drop by. Last week I had a guy, 40 years old, come by ... He tried it and -‘How much? I think this is something I want to do,’ he said.”

Veres gets people started on a Night Vapor plane, which looks a little like a set of Saran Wrap wings on a tiny motor. It seems awfully slow until you’re at the controls.

It’s a mental exercise. It’s fine when the plane is flying away from you - on the controls left is left and right is right. But when the plane turns around and is coming towards you, it’s easy to get discombobulated.

And things don’t go out of control slowly. One second, you’re flying along peacefully. The next, you’re in a nosedive.

Veres uses a pair of connected remotes when introducing newbies to flying. He’ll take off, give some pointers, and then make you the pilot. He can take back control of the aircraft when, inevitably, the first-time flier gets into trouble. It’s like a driving instructor having a brake on the passenger side of the car.

“There’s an instructor radio I patch into a trainer radio,” said Veres. “So I can take control of the plane any time they’re out of control.”

He often has a Vapor plane or two available for purchase, but Veres makes no profit off them. He simply wants to get others involved.

“I’m just doing it to help,” said Veres. “I’m trying to do that, but I’m not going to keep a large inventory of these things.

“I’ll help people get their first plane, get training on it, and I’ll advise them on which way to go next.”

With spring rumoured to be just around the corner, it’s getting to be time to bring out gas-powered planes for higher, faster and bigger flights.

The Yukon Radio Control Modelers, an aviation model club, is holding its annual meeting this Sunday at 1 p.m. and the public is invited to come check out the remote control aerobatics. The meeting will take place at the Whitehorse flying field, located east of the Alaska Highway, 1.6 kilometres south of the Wolf Creek Campground. Follow the white signs on the trees.

“It gets a little more exciting when you have the noise, the speed, the altitude - you can fly them up until they’re a speck in the sky,” said Veres. “I’m making the offer to people who want to come out and try a bigger plane ... We have a beautiful field, country kitchen, camping area.”

The Yukon Radio Control Modelers club has about 20 current members and has been around for about 40 years, estimates Veres, who is vice-president.

The club will also host its Fun Fly day on June 15, which is another chance for people to go try out some planes and some barbecue.

“Last year I hooked up a few people who were really floored by the experience,” said Veres.

Few hobbies are as versatile as RC flying. Pardon the expression, but the sky’s the limit.

There’s everything from helicopters that can land in the palm of your hand, to jet-powered planes with three-metre wingspans or larger.

“The hobby is whatever you want it to be,” said Veres. “You can build things from scratch - buy plans. Or you can buy planes ready to go, any size and capacity.

“You can put smokers in them, cameras in them, whatever you want to do.”

The weekly drop-in at the Canada Games Centre takes place every Friday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“A lot of these little planes aren’t going to fly too well in the wind, so we’re talking about keeping it going through the summer,” said Veres.

Contact Tom Patrick at