NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 2, 2013

Model airfield too valuable to be shut down

To the editor:

I went out to get the paper from my driveway a little late today. It was cold and wet, the plastic was covered with a film of sleet. As I brushed the sleet off the cover, I saw the headline “Model plane club grounded” — it was a cold day indeed, but not due to the weather.

We often lament that our children are scholastic and cultural victims of video and computer games that trap them indoors, and that our schools are not educating, which causes widespread ignorance and a myriad of sociopathic behavior. We are dismayed that our science and engineering matriculation rates are dismal compared to the developing world. Who else but we are to blame? We elect our government. We run our schools. We create the environment in which we live and rear our children.

Model planes have been a part of my life and millions of others. It is still an unequaled way to learn and apply mechanics, physics, aerodynamics, electronics, robotics and wireless communications. It takes serious construction skill, patience, eye-hand coordination and practice to successfully build and fly a model airplane. No other hobby combines as many aspects of engineering, science, physical and mental skills in one completely creative activity. It also develops strong social camaraderie from the learning and interaction to solve design problems, as well as through competition at all levels (see http://www.modelaircraft.org/).

Best of all, it takes place outside in the very real world! Model aircraft require space to fly, and they can make a bit of noise (sometimes), but we should in no way deny this valuable activity to any person, young and old alike. Flying fields are the most precious resource the activity has, and enthusiasts travel many miles in order to fly — without a field it is all meaningless.

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