RC plane visits Piggott on cross-country voyage

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The WAA-08 plane in its custom carrying crate prepares to leave Piggott for the next leg of its journey in its cross-country voyage. (Times photo/Tim Blair)

In early June 2008 a group of model airplane enthusiasts began a project to fly a battery-powered radio controlled airplane in all 48 contiguous United States.

The "Wings Across America" or WAA-08 plane made a visit Saturday and Sunday to Piggott and the Piggott RC Club thanks to the efforts of club member Tom Roberts.

"I read about it on the Internet and signed up as one of the pilots to complete the chain," Roberts said of his participation. "I picked up the plane Saturday in Bald Knob and will be hand-delivering it Sunday to a pilot in Fenton, Mo."

During the visit to Piggott, Roberts, along with several members of the local club, had the chance to fly the small parkflyer, the name of a small RC plane usually flown in fields such as local parks or ballfields.

Although several members of the club had the chance to fly the plane, Roberts is the pilot of record and the 137th to have the honor in the last 13 1/2 months.

"Everyone who has flown the plane has signed the top of the transport box," he noted. "Once they finish the trip they'll be putting the plane in the AMA museum in Muncie, Ind., and I hope to go there someday and see it."

Organizers noted this type of project has been attempted before, but added that what sets this project apart from all the others ever attempted or completed is that the pilots will hand deliver the plane from pilot to pilot.

The plane will never be shipped by mail to its next destination. This method will be creating a "chain" of pilots that personally fly, then hand off the model to the next pilot, all across the continental United States.

In the end, the model airplane will have flown in all 48 states and cover a distance of over 14,000 miles along the way. It will end its journey at home field about two years after it made its maiden flight in eastern Virginia.

The equipment used for WAA-08 has been donated by the participating pilots. Fortunately, one of the pilots owns Stevens AeroModels in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Bill Stevens donated a plane called a SQuiRT, which stands for Simple, Quiet Robust Trainer. This tough little 38-inch wingspan parkflyer is easy to fly and should take the abuse that over 365 pilots can dish out along the way.

For Roberts and members of the Piggott RC Club, the opportunity offered them a chance to be a part of history.

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  • Wow! That is really neat.

    -- Posted by Pondering on Sat, Aug 22, 2009, at 10:51 AM
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