History was made at Hampton Roads Radio Control Club’s Chuckatuck airfield on Sunday when the record was broken for the number of pilots to fly the same model plane in a single session, the club reports.
The occasion was a flight by a radio-controlled airplane nearing the end of a tour around the country.
It’s not flying non-stop, club Vice President Mills Staylor explained, a feat that would seem impossible.
The plane, a foam model powered by a brushless electric motor and with a 38-inch wingspan, is being passed from one club to another.
Members of each club have an opportunity to take the plane for a joy flight at their respective airfield, and it has now buzzed through the sky in all 48 lower states.
“It’s delivered from one member to another member on the side of the road or somewhere,” Staylor said.
Fifty individuals flew the plane at the field off Pembroke Lane Sunday, eclipsing the previous record of 39, he said, adding that more than 900 individual pilots have flown the plane altogether.
Wade Saltzgiver, a member, brought the model to the Hampton Roads Radio Control Club’s field in the afternoon, after Tidewater Radio Control club members had flown it that morning.
“Several members flew it there,” Staylor said.
After Saltzgiver, the plane’s listed pilot, took it into the air, other members lined up to take control with what’s known as a buddy box — a second set of controls connected in such a way to enable whoever has the first set to guide the plane if required.
“We would line up and take control of the buddy box, flying it for a little while, then hand it to the next person,” Staylor said.
An individual from Gloucester started the across-the-country flight in 2008, according to Staylor.
Its final flight, he said, is planned for Muncie, Ind., where the model plane will then be placed in the Academy of Model Aeronautics museum.
“It’s about to be retired,” Staylor said. “It has been kind of neat. This guy just kind of dreamed this up, put it together and did it.”
The plane was designed to be packaged and transported around easily, according to Staylor. It has a rechargeable lithium battery.
“There are few things that can go wrong with it,” he said.