Viewfinder: Red Tails Flying Club

Viewfinder: Red Tails Flying Club

Photos by Lowell Carrington, president [email protected]

Originally seen in the April 2022 Model Aviation

THE RED TAILS FLYING CLUB reflects the heart and spirit of our great hobby. The club was founded in 1972 by three brothers, Russell, Lowell, and Keith Carrington. They started with plastic Cox Control Line (CL) models in their early teens then moved to Free Flight (FF) and balsa CL models in the late 1960s. Driving by a club located in Hampton, Virginia, in 1970, they saw their first RC model and it was love at first sight.

All of the brothers’ flying took place on their family farm in Southampton County, Virginia. Their initial RC flights were handlaunched because all of the open land was farmed. After crops were harvested, they would hand-rake a small area for landing. A hand-toss and landing without damage brought smiles, but they spent many hours searching through corn fields and wooded areas looking for lost models, of which there were many because they learned to build and fly through trial and error.

As the years passed, the brothers were able to finally put in a permanent runway. They also began to invite other fellow modelers, who they would meet at hobby shops, to come fly at their airfield.

In 1972, Russell, Lowell, and Keith named their little club the Red Tails Flying Club, in honor of their father, who served in World War II with the 332nd Fighter Group. Several years later, with more pilots joining and visiting, they registered the club with AMA and became AMA Charter Club 5130 in District IV. While the Red Tails Flying Club remains relatively small with only 10 members, the group has hosted several fly-ins at its field for local clubs. In addition, the club is visited regularly by AMA members from other clubs who drop by for a day of flying and camaraderie.

Throughout the years, the runway has grown from a small patch that was hand-raked from a crop field to a permanent 650-foot, closely mown runway. Most of the work and expense to build the field were financed and performed by the three Carrington brothers.

Although many members and visitors have supported the club, member Les Perkins was designated as a Life Member to recognize his outstanding support and contributions throughout the years.

The club field was officially named as the Russell S. Carrington Memorial Airfield after Russell passed away in November 2019. He was known by many for his frequent saying, "I don’t fly in the wind." Russell is credited with starting and growing the Carrington brothers’ interest in model aircraft and championing the creation of the Red Tails Flying Club.

The club has matured from CL and FF to Giant Scale gas models and turbine jets. If it flies, you can see it at the club field.

Lowell stated, "On behalf of the Red Tails Flying Club, thank you to the AMA for helping to keep our dream alive."

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What a great story on the Carrington Brothers, their love of flying and the connection to their fathers service in the Red Tails! It is wonderful to see their enthusiasm build their airfield from farm into the beautiful runway they now have. I started my RC journey in Virginia in 1984. I named an Alfa model P-51 I had “Red Tail Robin”, and painted it up like the 332nd. Had I known of their club, I surely would have loved to fly that plane there. Although I probably would have left it in the corn fields…. :-)

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