Ashleigh Heath: Aerospace engineering student

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Written by Jay Smith
Aerospace engineering student
As seen in the January 2021 issue of Model Aviation.
I Am The AMA

Bonus Video

Jay Smith: How did you get involved with model aviation?

Ashleigh Heath: My dad is a full-scale pilot. I’ve been flying with him in a Cessna 172 and 182 since I was very little. I eventually went to a local hobby shop and the staff set me up with a Horizon Hobby Super Cub.

At the time, I didn’t know about all of the AMA clubs and organizations that are out there, so I flew at my school’s field. I taught myself how to fly and crashed over and over again. Eventually I got the hang of it and I’ve been hooked on it ever since then. That was about 8 years ago.

JS: How has model aviation impacted your life and/or career?

AH: Model aviation has completely changed my life. I just started as a student at Western Michigan University in aerospace engineering. Building, flying, rebuilding, and fixing model airplanes really opened my eyes to the world of aviation and engineering and all of the STEM careers that are out there. I really look forward to continuing doing things with airplanes and other aircraft in my future.

JS: What disciplines of modeling do you currently participate in?

AH: I fly Giant Scale 3D. I mostly fly 35%-scale Extreme Flight aircraft. I also fly some of the smaller 3D-size airplanes. I have a few foamies that I enjoy flying in my free time to just have fun with.

JS: What other hobbies do you have?

AH: During the summer, I enjoy hanging out on the lake. I am also currently involved in a restoration project on a 1971 Ford Bronco. That’s been taking a lot of my time, along with RC.

JS: Who or what has influenced you the most?

AH: I guess one of the most important influences would have been an old friend of mine. Her name is Jenny. Years ago, she taught me a lot about the flight simulator. She used to fly RC. She flies full-scale aircraft more now, but she really got me into 3D flying.

Jenny told me about Joe Nall Week at Triple Tree Aerodrome in South Carolina. She had me go down there and that’s what exposed me to how big the RC hobby really is. Ever since then, I have been hooked, and its been an amazing experience. I love every aspect of it.

JS: What advice do you have for someone new to the hobby?

AH: I guess the most important thing I would recommend for getting into the RC hobby is purchasing a flight simulator. It might seem expensive at first, but it’ll really save you a lot of money in the long run. You can fly year-round and crash as much as you want and you won’t lose a dime. That’s really how I learned all of the maneuvers and aerobatics that I do with my airplanes.

I have met a lot of people through RealFlight’s multiplayer servers. It’s amazing. After you have spent a lot of time on the RealFlight simulator, go out and purchase a smaller foamie model. Go to a hobby store and talk to the employees there and they can point you in the right direction. Just don’t ever give up. You are going to crash; everybody crashes. Just keep with it. Glue that airplane back together and get it flying and you’ll get the hang of it.

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