Airfield for radio-controlled
aircraft under construction
near Gunnison cemetery
By Robert Stevens
Dec. 14, 2017
GUNNISON—Radio-controlled (RC) aircraft enthusiasts may be happy to hear that a fully featured RC airfield is taking shape in Gunnison.
The RC airfield’s progress was discussed at a meeting of the Gunnison City Council on Wednesday, Dec. 6.
Councilman Shawn Crane reported to the council and Mayor Bruce Blackham about the state of the RC airfield, which is northeast of the cemetery, and how things were going.
Crane himself is involved in the volunteer work to turn the airfield into a recreational asset for local RC aircraft pilots.
He says the goal is to meet the standards set by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), because if they do, the AMA will insure the field for $1.5 million and also offer some potential improvement grants.
As it currently stands, Crane says, the airfield runway is 50 feet by 388 feet, but they want to expand it to a full 400 feet long.
The runway and the pit area, where pilots set up and fly from, have been completely covered in turf material, and markings have been painted on the runway’s surface at important reference points for RC aircraft flight.
So far, Crane says, about 10,000 man hours and $10,000 worth of volunteer work have gone into getting the airfield to where it’s at.
On any given Saturday, you will see about ten or so people out on the airfield, Crane said, sometimes flying RC aircraft with wingspans of up to 12 feet wide.
The field also gets used throughout the week, and Crane said he expects the airfield usage to continue to grow, especially as more improvements are made.
The location will be a potential draw for the local RC aircraft clubs to host “fly-ins,” which are a bit like a miniature airshow.
But recreational events are not all Crane says will come of the airfield.
Educational programs for local students who want to learn how to fly RC aircraft safely will eventually be hosted by experienced pilots at the airfield.
Crane says the students will be set up with a “buddy box,” which is an extra remote control that the student can control the plane with. If the aircraft begins to spin out of control, the teacher switches the control back to his remote and corrects the flight path to prevent any aircraft from crashing during the training sessions.
When they pick up work on the airfield again in the spring, Crane says he has two improvement projects in mind for the airfield, besides extending the runway to 400 feet.
The first is building a shaded canopy for the pilot’s pit area, and the second is building a fence barrier along some portions of the airfield’s perimeter to prevent vehicles from driving onto the runway and damaging the turf.