Model aircraft honourees
London Community News
By Paul Everest/London Community News/Twitter: @PaulEverest1
When Archie Steels looks back at the time he first ventured into the world of model aircraft building, he chuckles and recalls some of the limitations radio-controlled planes were faced with.
“There were no remote controls, the planes were attached to the controls by a wire,” he said. “So their flying range wasn’t very far.”
That was nearly 65 years ago and now Archie, 81, and longtime friend and fellow model builder Ted Buck, 90, are being honoured as “pioneers” in the model aircraft industry.
Both are members of London’s Forest City Flyers club, which celebrates its 60th anniversary next year, and on Sept. 15, Archie and Ted will receive the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada’s (MAAC) Model Aviation Pioneers of Canada Award for more than 50 years of dedication to their craft.
Ted became a member of MAAC in the 1950s and Archie joined in the 1940s and Ted said his love affair with building and flying aircraft replicas began when he was in high school in the 1930s.
“I got involved because my high school encouraged us to get involved in extracurricular activities,” he said.
His blossoming fascination with the hobby was interrupted when he joined the Canadian Army in 1939 to serve in the Second World War, but Ted quickly returned to model aircraft building when the war ended.
Over the past six decades, he has built close to 100 model aircraft, including one in his garage that almost dwarfs his car, but most of them have either crashed over the years or have been given away.
Archie said he became interested in the detailed work of creating miniature winged wonders because airplanes were the premier technology “of that era” and many young men and women built models to feel closer to the pilots flying the real thing.
“That was the big thing back then,” he said, adding the unmanned drones used by the military today are really just more complicated versions of radio-controlled model planes.
Ron Dodd of Chilliwack, B.C., president of MAAC, and MAAC’s zone director for this area, Frank Klenk, will present Archie and Ted with the awards at the Forest City Flyers’ home field located on South Minister Bourne Road southwest of London on the morning of Sept. 15.
“We appreciate this as an acknowledgement of what we’ve done over the years,” Ted said.