Southeast Missouri Modelers Association holds open house

AARON EISENHAUER ~ "I was too low and too slow and doing rolls," said Jim Bollinger as he repaired the damage from the resulting accident on his plane Monday in the basement of his Benton, Mo., home.

Galaxy Park opened almost a year ago at a new city-owned venue for the Southeast Missouri Modelers Association, a growing radio-controlled model aircraft organization.

SEMMA will hold an open house beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday featuring model aviation demonstrations by local pilots, jet and helicopter demonstrations by members of the former Show Me Air Kings and the flying of the Snoopy Doghouse.

The three-acre airfield with 87 surrounding acres on which to fly includes three used shelters provided by Southeast Missouri Hospital that were acquired just by moving them off hospital grounds.

Carport shelters add protection from the elements, and electricity allows the club to have a small refrigerator and helps those who fly electrics, said Jim Bollinger, a longtime SEMMA member. "After 20 minutes they need recharging. Fans help out on a really hot day, and the city has done a tremendous job hauling dirt for our runway. On a scale of one to 10, I'd rate our airfield at about a six," Bollinger said.

Bollinger has held several offices in the club over the years and was a member of the former Show Me Air Kings. "In essence this is a fly-in. You bring whatever you want to bring and fly it," he said.

Bro Kisner, a former Show Me King, will bring a jet from St. Louis, Bollinger said. "It bumps out at about 200 miles per hour and is neat because of its full-blown jet engines. They are turbines. I believe it has a four-and-a-half-foot wing span."

Keith Wilson, a former Show Me King from Arkansas, will bring a helicopter to demonstrate.

There will be several airplanes built at 40 percent of the original size, Bollinger said. "My airplane has a 120-inch wing span. I hope to be part of the show after I fix it."

The German-built aerobatic plane is a replica of a Staudacher. The plane crashed after flying too low last weekend. "You take chances. That's the fun of it," Bollinger said. He is waiting for props he ordered to come in so he can get it ready to fly this weekend.

President Arnold Simmons said the Snoopy Doghouse is a crowd pleaser because it's familiar. "It measures about a foot and a half square and is an extreme challenge to fly," he said.

The doghouse, flown by a member in a Sikeston, Mo., club, demonstrates how members from other clubs work together, exchanging information and skills.

Jerry Cummings of Jackson, a SEMMA member for about a year, practices at Galaxy Park and on a flight simulator. He considers himself a novice at building and flying model aircraft. Cummings works at his hobby about four hours a day and said club members have helped him learn to fly the planes.

"I got in touch with Jim Wunderlich of Jackson, a SEMMA member who buddied up with me using two control boxes with a cord between them. When I get in trouble he takes it back real quick," Cummings said.

Cummings built cars and trucks from kits before getting started on airplanes. He builds small ones from kits — at 10 percent scale — since he doesn't have room to build a big one.

Cummings doesn't miss a SEMMA meeting unless he's out of town because he enjoys learning all he can about the challenge of flying. "There's a great camaraderie with the people. You learn from each other."

Recently he went on a trip to St. Louis where the club attended another model aircraft club open house. "It's quite impressive to watch the giants, the ones with six-foot wing spans. There was a guy there who could get the plane to dance to a Celine Dion song. It was the first time I'd seen this," Cummings said.

Working from plans now, Cummings transfers drawings onto light plywood and balsa, cuts out the pieces with a scroll saw; pieces them together and glues them with super glue. Sanding, wrapping with monocote, stretching and drying with a special hairdryer comes next. Successful craftsmanship is important when constructing a craft that will fly, Cummings said.

Galaxy Park

Galaxy Park is off Highway 177 on Gizmo Lane, just before County Road 657. Members found the spot on the Academy of Model Aeronautics Web site, a large national association of model aircraft clubs to which SEMMA club members belong. The park was named by the city before SEMMA began using it.

The move from farmland near Gordonville to an old solid waste landfill on Highway 177 has been a good one, Simmons said.

"Unlike Gordonville, our new field never floods and is usable 365 days a year," Simmons said. "A few of our hard-core fliers fly at least once a week all year long. We invite everyone in the area to come out and see what a great hobby this is."

The public is invited to meetings at 7:30 p.m. on the first Thursday monthly at Cape Girardeau Public Library.

For more information about the club, call Simmons at 225-1179.

335-6611, extension 133