The Lone Tree city council laid a flight path to renovate the local runway at their regular meeting on Monday, April 5.
This runway isn’t used for conventional aircraft. Instead, it’s home to model ones.
John Biondo and Gary Kleinmeyer served as representatives of the Lone Tree Flyers RC club on Monday. Their proposal would see the cemetery-adjacent runway expand to 500 feet by 80 feet.
Mayor Joanne Havel said she would inspect the site to see what improvements need to be done.
As a hobby, model airplane flying has come a long way since the Flyers started.
“I’ve been flying model airplanes for 45 years. I’ve been building models since I was a little kid, and now it’s quite incredible what’s really happened in the hobby,” Biondo said. “It’s really taken off.”
Just like the runway, the club has expanded as well. Biondo said the Flyers have grown from five inaugural members to 16 current ones.
The group holds regular meetings to fly their models. At times, they invite local kids to try their hand at flying RC airplanes. It’s all to inspire the next generation of RC pilots.
“Spectators, particularly the youth, really enjoy being exposed to this kind of thing,” Biondo said. “We like to educate them on that and bring them into the hobby as well.”
Of course, safety and communication are paramount. Some models can weigh more than fifty pounds with a wingspan of a dozen feet or more. You don’t want one of those zipping around faster than the speed limit and crashing through your window.
That’s where safety protocols, in conjunction with FAA standards, come into play.
“We don’t fly over any houses…or the American Legion or anything,” Kleinmeyer said. “We try to fly to the north, east and a little to the south. Safety is our number one priority.”
Another goal the Flyers have is to become more integrated into local communities. After all, they have members from all across eastern Iowa.
One of their plans, once the runway is renovated, is to hold a weekend event raising money for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City.
The Lone Tree Flyers are one of 2,600 member clubs of the Academy of Model Aeronautics. The association boasts around 200,000 members nationwide.
The AMA recently provided the Flyers with a disaster relief grant. The derecho storm of last August had done a number on the runway.
This grant, coupled with funds from the Lone Tree Community Foundation, would go a long way in restoring it so gatherings can be held once again.
Some Community Foundation members were also in attendance at Monday’s meeting, but for an entirely different reason.
Melinda Wieland and her husband Kurt, who is coincidentally part of the Flyers, proposed erecting a memorial sculpture for their late friend Cheri Colbert.
Colbert died in 2019, and a memorial fund had been set up to commemorate her.
The Wielands said Colbert was artistic and colorful in life, so a nice sculpture would be a good way to remember her by.
“We thought this would be something very pretty for the community, and maybe people would enjoy it and it would be a good memorial for her,” Melinda Wieland said.
Council member Ruby Dickey suggested the artwork could replace the town’s weathered gazebo in the North Park.