District I - July 2019

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Written by Andy Argenio Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont AMA News As seen in the July 2019 issue of Model Aviation.

Ron Carey, from the Southern New Hampshire Flying Eagles (SNHFE), submitted the following story. It is a wonderful example of how teaching others to fly can be as rewarding for the instructor and club as it is for a new member—especially when seeing how their efforts made a positive influence on someone who is disabled.

I met Dave Bell and his wife, Cindy, at the club’s flying site in June 2015. They had a new-in-the-box Apprentice RC airplane with them. Dave was 55 years old, in a wheelchair, and with poor dexterity in his right hand. His throat was paralyzed, making it difficult for others to understand him. He was able to communicate further with a tablet.

I asked Dave if he wanted to fly his airplane and he excitedly responded with a sound that we soon learned to recognize as "Oh yeah!" With that kind of enthusiasm, we all wanted to help him.

Dave didn’t have the physical dexterity to put his airplane together, so some of the club members and I built the model and programmed the radio along with a buddy box. Dave had only one battery, but club members provided spares, which allowed him to try flying on the buddy box until he was tired.

It became clear that he wasn’t going to be able to control both sticks to fully navigate the airplane but he had a great time with what he was able to do with the controls. Everyone that day went home with huge smiles and a lot of pride.

Later on, in discussions on ways to help Dave, club members suggested that possibly a mode 1 radio setup might be easier for him to control the airplane. While I was away on vacation, Dave went to another club equipped with a mode 1 radio. Unfortunately, while on a buddy box, the airplane crashed and was totaled.

Dave returned to SNHFE with another Apprentice and again the club members built it. It was decided that a mode 3 setup might be best because the primary flight controls of aileron and elevator would be on the left stick, allowing him to navigate the airplane with his good hand. With this setup, he was also able to practice at home on a simulator and soon he could control the flight path of his model airplane at the club’s flying site.

Eventually Dave had his DX9 radio modified to include a foot pedal for throttle control and a knob mounted on the top of the left stick that could be turned for controlling the airplane’s rudder. Despite his disability, Dave could now finally control all of the channels needed to fully navigate an RC airplane.

Dave and I flew and built a friendship over the months that followed. It was great to see his confidence and excitement grow as his skills improved. He and I started to practice takeoffs and landings. In late 2016, Dave’s health turned for the worse and he passed away on February 3, 2017.

ron carey standing was flight training dave bell
Ron Carey (standing) was flight training Dave Bell on the buddy box during the SNHFE annual Float Fly at Greenfield State Park.

Working with Dave was one the most rewarding things I have had the honor and privilege of doing. I know it was a source of pleasure and excitement for Dave. It is amazing to see how challenges can be overcome by a community of AMA people who share a passion.

Rest in peace, Dave. I think of you often. Dave’s wife donated all of his gear to SNHFE and the club now wishes to donate it to someone with a disability who would require a radio for onehand control. Please send a request to president@snhflyingeagles.org.

Thanks Ron, for this inspiring story of your efforts and the SNHFE to help someone with a disability enjoy the sport of aeromodeling.

dave flew using this buddy box during the snhfe annual float fly
Dave flew using this buddy box during the SNHFE annual Float Fly.
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Steve Brehm, Jamestown RI; (401) 423-1085; stbrehm@yahoo.com

Andrew Figlar, Shelton CT; (203) 513-8546; figlar335@att.net

James Gilliatt, Concord MA; (978) 369-9796; jegilliatt@cs.com

Steve Goler, Salem MA; (617) 373-0884; nipmuck2@comcast.net

Daren Hudson, Greenland NH; (603) 674-5809; dth7@comcast.net

Ray LaBonte, Standish ME; (207) 892-7994; rplabonte@aol.com

Joan Liska, Middletown CT; (860) 347-0257; jliska9000@sbcglobal.net

Thomas J. Puma Jr., North Clarendon VT; (802) 558-4439; usakingcat1@aol.com

Tom Rocheleau, Wethersfield CT; (860) 280-1701; trocheleau@cox.net

Ted Wojcik, Fremont NH; (603) 479-3799; tedwojcik@comcast.net


John Yassemedis, 5 Quarry Rd., Nashua NH 03062; (603) 321-8442; jyassemedis@comcast.net


David Surwell, 24 Norwich Rd., Nashua NH 03062; (603) 888-2020; davidsurwell@comcast.net


Awesome story. As a person with a disabled right arm, I know what it means to be able to continue in this great hobby after an accident. Thank you for publishing this

I myself am disabled and have had to overcome limited mobility. I spend most of my time in a wheelchair and have set up my shop to accommodate working from said wheelchair.

I am a member of the Lake Sawyer Hawks RC Flying Club and have had the pleasure of the club president, Randy Ling, taking me under his wing. We had to overcome different disabilities than what Dave had to deal with but it was still a challenge.

When you can't turn your head of tilt it back very far, tracking an airplanes can be a problem. Thanks to Randy Ling and two years of hard work, I finally dolled and can now fly on my own. It's still to have club members who are willing to help If I need it.

I even built a special transport cart that allows me to carry all my support equipment and several planes in my wheelchair van.

I'm glad that there are other people in our sport/hobby who are willing to help people with disabilities enjoy the fun of flying RC aircraft.

What a GREAT story. The modified dx9 looks to be a left Handed single-stick. I have been trying to get my dx7s converted without luck. I'm not disabled, but I'm left Handed and always loved single-sticks.

Congrats Ron and SNHFE. One of District 1’s largest and most active clubs.

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