Build & Fly - crew with completed model.

Our First Build & Fly Event was a Huge Success!


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EAA Chapter 1361 held their first Young Eagles Build & Fly Program during the week of June 13, 2022. We had 8 participants who spent the week attending a summer camp style event that began each day at 9 am and finished at 3 pm.

The Build & Fly Program teams an EAA Chapter with a local AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) Club to have the Young Eagles build an electric-powered RC model and to then fly it at the AMA Club’s flying field. Chapter 1361 paired with the Reno Radio Control Club (RRCC) to conduct the event.

BUild & Fly - first morning
The build tables set up with examples of the completed components at each station.

The RC model kit was ordered in early March with a planned Build & Fly event in mid-June. The RRCC club representatives poured over the kit contents and even went to the extreme step to order an additional kit for themselves. They used the second kit to learn the recommended kit build order, to come up with a daily build goal and and to pre-build major sections of the second kit to use as examples for the kids to see the end result of piecing together all of the various small parts.

The EAA Chapter was able to arrange the use of a large, uncarpeted side room in the Reno-Stead Airport Terminal to conduct the program. We give many thanks to the support of the Reno-Stead Airport management and the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority for the generous use of the facility. The participants brought ‘brown bag’ lunches each day and the Chapter provided snacks, fruit and small bottles of water to access throughout the day. 

BUild & Fly - Simulator briefing.
Young Eagles learning about the RC flight simulator operation.

The RRCC had 5 chapter members in addition to president Dan Mitchell and Peter Hanson who assisted during the week. Two volunteers were present in the simulator area and four were in the build area. The Build & Fly  kit includes hardware and software for an RC flying simulator and the RRCC had two sets of their own, so with three simulators available the Young Eagles were able, throughout the week to all have plenty of time ‘flying’ the RC simulators in preparation for the Flight Day at the end of the week.

In order to keep the attendees engaged there were activities and guest speakers interspersed with the building process. On Tuesday Tenley Ong (see the April Sport Aviation article) and Stan Lawrence flew up to the Reno-Stead Airport in Stan’s RV-14 so that Tenley could give a presentation to the attendees. The kids were then treated to a tour of Stan’s aircraft.

Build & Fly - RV-14 tour
The build crew touring the RV-14.

On Wednesday the after lunch period was filled up with a visit to the control tower on the airport. It is not an active tower, used only during Air Race events or during particularly heavy fire-fighting activities. Then the Young Eagles took a tour of the hangar owned by the EAA Chapter President, learned about his 1948 Temco Swift and an in-progress Aeronca Champ restoration. They then visited the hangar of the Washoe County Sheriff’s “Raven” aviation unit where they toured two of their helicopters and learned of their capabilities. On the way back to the airport terminal they stopped by and toured the hangar where the EAA Chapter’s Young Eagle Coordinator, Greg Howe,  keeps his Ultralight aircraft.

Build & Fly - UNR grad student presentation
UNR grad student Steve Carlson talking about his drone work.

On Thursday morning the guest speaker was Steve Carlson, A graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno, who brought a few small drones which he is using in the research for his degree. And on Friday morning, the attendees received a demonstration from a UAS company with an office in the Reno-Stead Terminal building, showing the operation of their ‘octo-copter’ and its surveillance capabilities.

Other activities supplementing the build process included content-specific YouTube videos, glider building, and a paper airplane building and flying contest.

Thanks to some pre-event building by the AMA volunteers and a close watch on the build progress throughout the week, the group was able to complete the build on Friday afternoon. We all took a much needed day off on Saturday. Then on Sunday, Father’s Day, everyone gathered at the RRCC model Field northeast of the Reno-Stead Airport for the model first flight and a chance for each Young Eagle to fly the completed model.

A great crowd gathered at the RC field with all of the attendees bringing family and friends to watch the activities. One of the RRCC members brought a small electric-powered trainer aircraft and each Build & Fly participant got time at the controls of both aircraft. The models were flown with a ‘Buddy Box’  which permitted the RC instructor to take over the flight controls if the Young Eagle appeared to be losing control of the model in flight. 

Many thanks to the Chapter volunteers who participated and especially to the great crew from the Reno Radio Control Club, without which the event could not have been conducted.

[Photo credits to: Greg Howe, Peter Hanson, Tracy Rhodes]

Everyone, Young Eagles, EAA chapter members and Reno Radio Control Club volunteers, had a great time all through the week and at the RC field during flight day. Both volunteers and parents were asking when the program would be offered again. We would call that a definite success, and a program that other chapters, both EAA and AMA,  should seriously consider.