A place to fly

Fern Prairie Modelers club is in need of a new field

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General membership meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Camas Community Center, 1718 S.E. Seventh Ave. Visitors are welcome.

For more information about the club, visit www.fpmc.org or call Fred Elliott, secretary, at 607-9078.

Visitors are welcome at the club flying site, 4025 S. Grant St., Washougal on Tuesday evenings from 5 p.m. to dusk, when FMA conducts member flight training.

General membership meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Camas Community Center, 1718 S.E. Seventh Ave. Visitors are welcome.

For more information about the club, visit www.fpmc.org or call Fred Elliott, secretary, at 607-9078.

Visitors are welcome at the club flying site, 4025 S. Grant St., Washougal on Tuesday evenings from 5 p.m. to dusk, when FMA conducts member flight training.

Brian Joiner eyes the runway, preparing for takeoff.

“This isn’t the time of day I like to fly, but it will have to do,” he said.

Joiner hits the throttle, and the Pilot Extra 330 model airplane takes to the sky on a bright sunny morning.

“We definitely need some space to fly,” he said.

Joiner, 70, has been a member of Fern Prairie Modelers club since 2008, but has enjoyed assembling and flying model airplanes since 1968. He currently serves as vice-president of the club, which leases a five acre site at Grant Street in the industrial park from the Port of Camas-Washougal.

However, the group has been told it will need to vacate its current site within the next year or two to make room for development. Finding a new location poses a challenge, especially since 5 acres and a 50 acre fly zone are needed.

“The Port has been very good to us and we understand that they need to develop and grow,” Joiner said. “But the expansion of the Port means the termination of our flying field.” He noted that the group has several older members, which makes traveling to Skamania County, where land is more plentiful, difficult.

“But with everything going on in Clark County and the cost of land, we don’t have the financial wherewithal to buy a field,” he said. “We would need to lease property. We don’t care what is done with it, we just need five acres.”

Fern Prairie Modelers was founded in 1981 with a loose association of five charter members flying at a site that is now Grove Field in Camas. Currently, the club has more than 100 members and is chartered by the internationally recognized national modeling organization, the Academy of Model Aeronautics. The club is open to anyone with an interest in model aviation. Club members range in age from 11 to 88.

The club has been at its current location for three years. All site improvements and facilities were installed by club members. FPM hosts several competition events and participates in other community activities throughout the year, such as Camas Days.

Bob Greenwood, 75, has been involved with the club for five years. He is in the process of trying to secure a new site.

“It has certainly been an experience,” he said. “I have never done this before and at my age, it can be hard to learn new stuff.”

Greenwood has been building model airplanes using boxes of wood, since he was 11 years old. He joined the Fern Prairie Modelers after retiring as a truck driver and machinist.

“I have always wanted to do this,” he said. “It is just something that I enjoy.”

The club offers free flight training to its’ members every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to dusk, and visitors are welcome to come and observe at that time, and ask questions.

In the past, the club has had students from the Clark County Skills Center out to the site.

“We try to inspire an interest, especially in young kids,” Greenwood said. “We want them to try flying and see if they like it.”

Added Joiner, “The club is very community oriented and visitors are always welcome at our meetings.”

Most members focus on radio controlled sport model airplanes. However, there are also those interested in other areas of model aviation, including scale models, gliders, helicopters, pylon racers, control line and free flight modeling. Additionally, some are licensed pilots.

Jim Brewster, 79, of Vancouver is a one of those, although he limits his flying these days to a model Cessna 182.

“I really enjoy being out here with other fellows who have similar interests and talk the same language,” he said. “Sometimes we’ll come out here and end up talking, and not even fly.”

Noted Greenwood, “The great thrill for me is that you work for months building this plane, and then you are scared to fly it. But I love to come out here and do it. There is great camaraderie.”

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