Geren Mortensen, Art Perry and David Lamb are the epitome of enthusiasts. The three are members of the local Mid-Atlantic Radio Kontrol Society (MARKS), a group of model airplane flyers that is holding its annual air show Sunday.
Each has been involved in RC planes for decades and in that time have gone from practitioner to enthusiast by, for lack of a better phrase, converting the unbelievers. It isn’t that there is a satisfaction in getting someone to try and enjoy flying model planes, but rather the kind of feeling you get when you’ve helped someone gain access to something that they will enjoy as much as you do. Overused or not, “infectious” gets at it better than anything else.
The men came out to the Stephen Decatur Middle School baseball field, which they use as a local airfield, to give a brief demonstration and hype the upcoming air show. Although the wind prevented them from practicing, they were able to show a selection of the some of the kinds of planes that will be on display at the Fruitland MARKS airfield Sunday.
In general terms, many of the planes are hand-built, as opposed to “ARFs” planes that come “All Ready to Fly” out of the box. This distinction doesn’t quite separate the purists from the heretics — Mortensen has one himself — but it does go to a certain attitude many flyers have.
As enjoyable as it is to take part in directing the motion of a craft flying hundreds of feet above you, it is even more gratifying to know that you facilitated the experience, changing a pile of plastic, motors and transistors into an impressive craft capable of flying at your command.
One of the attractions for Perry, who has an exact replica of Hermann Goering’s Fokker DR-1 WWI tri-plane, is that although it appears to be, it is not really an exclusively outdoor activity. He likes the plane-building aspect and maintains a perspective of flying spring through fall and building all winter.
This week the MARKS air show will feature hundreds of different planes from one-ounce ARFs, such as Mortensen has, to quarter-scale flyers with wingspans reaching beyond nine feet. Seeing the planes up close, it is easy to imagine that they would carry a person.
As part of the day’s events, there will be a candy drop for kids, with planes unloading their sweet cargo, as well as displays by jet engine enthusiasts. The RC jets have scale turbine engines and are as impressive in their likeness as in their performance.
In addition to displays of acrobatics, one highlight of the show each year is the dogfighting display. Flyers pit their skills against other by playing a sort of flag football that involves one plane trying to knock the flag from the other’s tail. It is one of the only times that seeing a midair collision or a plane crash doesn’t result it abject horror.
The show ends each year with the opportunity for attendees to fly trainer planes under the watch and direction of the MARKS members. It’s a chance to see if you have a taste for the hobby.
Although the airfield is in Fruitland, most members are from Worcester County and there is a movement to find an airfield closer to the group’s geographical center. Anyone willing to rent farmland to the group to get in touch with him and see if a deal is possible.
The club field is located at 1918 St. Luke’s Road, just south of Maryland Route 12. Admission is free and directional signs will be prominently displayed to guide visitors to the show. Additional information about MARKS can be found at www.marksrc.com.