Clarissa Poston Interviews Geena Tucker

GeenaTucker Interview

Geena Tucker, an accomplished RC helicopter pilot and aerospace welder, discusses her experiences as a woman in the hobby of model aviation.

To read “Model Aviation: A Hobby For All,” in which Geena is featured, visit the July 2024 issue of Model Aviation magazine.

Clarissa Poston: Tell me a bit about your model aviation background!

Geena Tucker: I started my journey with helicopters back in December of 2010 with a Dynam E-Razor 450 collective-pitch helicopter. I had no one to teach me or guide me, so needless to say, I crashed a lot before I got the hang of it. I eventually got to the point where flying in the backyard was no longer an option, so I started looking for flying clubs in my area. I found a local club that is not too far from my house, and they helped me get my membership with AMA and their club. From there, my passion for the hobby grew very quickly and I found myself attending my very first helicopter fun-fly in 2011—the Orlando Helicopter Blowout.

 

CP: How did you first get interested in model aviation?

GT: I was watching videos on YouTube; I was hooked after that.

 

CP: What are some of your biggest accomplishments within the hobby?

GT: My biggest accomplishments have been quite a few, actually. I have earned several sponsorships over the years, [with] my very first being from HeliProz. Other past sponsors have been TSA Model and GAUI. My current sponsors are Miniature Aircraft, Kontronik Drives, bavarianDEMON, Pulse Battery, HeliDirect, KBDD International, and Xpert Servos.

Other accomplishments that I have had include being the first woman to ever compete in the Battle of the Brands at the International Radio Controlled Helicopter Association [Jamboree] in 2021; I finished in third place. I competed in the Battle of the Brands again in 2023. I also started competing in the F3C Sportsman class [at the RC Helicopter Nats] in 2020. I have earned three first-place finishes and three second-place finishes in local contests so far, and I won seventh place in the 2021 F3C Nats. I have an upcoming contest in Miami, Florida, where I will officially be moving up to the Advanced class.  

GeenaTucker Interview

1.Geena poses with some of her flying friends for a pre-awards ceremony photo, shortly after winning the F3C Sportsman class at Triple Creek in October 2023.

 

CP: How has model aviation positively impacted your life?

GT: Model aviation, particularly F3C competition, has given me a real purpose to fly, other than just going to the field and flying. It has also given me the opportunity to give back to the new and upcoming pilots who don’t know how to get started. I do this through buddy-boxing new pilots so that they learn in a controlled environment. That way they can experience the joy of flying without costly crashes and repairs. I also enjoy helping other pilots with the building and setup of their helicopters. I just really like to help people as much as I possibly can.  

 

CP: Tell me a bit about your experience as a woman in the male-dominated hobby of model aviation!

GT: To be honest, my experience as a woman in a male-dominated hobby has been a very smooth and pleasurable one. I have not once been met with any derogatory or other type of negative treatment. The guys have all accepted me as one of their own, which is just one more thing to love about model aviation. We’re just one big family who looks out for each other.

 

CP: What are some of the ways that you feel women impact the hobby of model aviation in a positive manner?

GT: I think our positive impact is the fact that we can come out and enjoy our hobby with the guys, have fun, and contribute to growing the entire hobby as a whole.

GeenaTucker Interview

2. During an F3C contest in Miami FL, Geena flew the hovering maneuvers for the Sportsman class.

 

CP: What advice would you give to young women trying to become involved in the hobby of model aviation?

GT: Don’t be intimidated! Yes, our hobby is pretty much male dominated, but it’s our hobby too, and the guys are not going to give you a second’s worth of trouble for wanting to participate. Quite the opposite is true because everyone, male or female, will go out of their way to help you. So, stick with it, get good at it, and enjoy your passion for your hobby.

GeenaTucker Interview

3. Another shot of Geena competing in F3C Sportsman.

CP: What resources, if any, do you recommend for beginners looking to become part of the hobby?

GT: Join AMA and join a local club that has a pilot training program. Also, invest in a good flight simulator. It will save you a ton of money in the long run.  

 

CP: As a female model aviator, have you faced any challenges or stereotypes? If so, what were they and how did you overcome them?

GT: I have had no issues, challenges, or stereotypes whatsoever. It’s been a smooth and enjoyable ride, and the guys all treat me with love and respect.  

 

CP: Are there any specific benefits that you've experienced being a woman in a male-dominated hobby?

GT: Not really. I mean ... I’m basically just one of the guys and all. But I have had guys help me move heavy items and set my camping tent up for me on occasion. So, I guess that could qualify … lol. GeenaTucker Interview

4. Geena and her sister, Grace, pose for some photos at the Lake Placid Aeromodelers club.

 

CP: What specific aspects of model aviation do you find most exciting or rewarding?

GT: First and foremost, the friends that I have made over the past 14 years in the hobby. They mean more to me than anything. Helping new pilots achieve their goals is another one that’s at the top of this list. Without new pilots, we can’t keep the hobby alive.

 

CP: Are there any particular models or types of aircraft that you're passionate about? Why?

GT: 100% helicopters because they are so complex and hard to fly. I’m the type who loves a good challenge, and helicopters scratch the itch for me. I do have a few fixed-wing [airplanes], but I prefer my helicopters.

 

CP: How do you feel that the hobby of model aviation has evolved over the years?

GT: In the 14 years that I have been involved with the hobby, the technology has absolutely exploded. The introduction of flybarless systems, telemetry, smart technology … it’s incredible.

 

GeenaTucker Interview

5. Geena Tucker is pictured preparing her Whiplash Nitro for a 3D flight at Highlands Radio Control Club

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CP: What positive changes have you witnessed in the hobby?

GT: Horizon Hobby’s Safe technology is probably up there on the top of the list. It allows new pilots who don’t have access to a teacher to buddy-box with them, providing the ability to learn to fly without the fear of crashing. This is available not only for fixed-wing [airplanes], but for helicopters too.  

 

CP: Have you noticed a change in the way that women within the hobby are viewed/treated?

GT: In my own experience, we are treated equally and viewed as valuable members of the hobby.

 

 

CP: Are there any female role models or mentors in the model aviation community who have inspired or influenced you?

GT: Absolutely! My sister and best friend, Grace. We fly together a lot and push each other to be the best helicopter pilots that we can possibly be. GeenaTucker Interview

6. Geena is pictured patiently waiting for her turn to compete in F3C Sportsman at Triple Creek RC in Riverview FL.

 

CP: How do you think that the model aviation community can become more inclusive and welcoming to women?

GT: Maybe by encouraging more women to get involved and give model aviation a chance. We’re already accepted, but I feel that a lot of women are still nervous about trying something that not a lot of us do.

 

CP: Have you had the opportunity to share your love of model aviation with others? How so?

GT: I have. A good friend and I a couple of years ago put on a buddy-box event at his local club. He and I were the instructors, and we had roughly 30 kids, along with their parents, trying their hands at flying helicopters. We spent the entire day buddy-boxing anyone who wanted to try it, and I think several of them actually got into model aviation after that.  

GeenaTucker Interview

7. In preparation for her upcoming competition in Miami FL, Geena performed lots of practice flights. At this competition, she will officially be moving to the Advanced F3C class!

 

 

CP: Are there any interesting/fun stories from your model aviation career that you'd like to share?

GT: This is a funny story. I used to date an electronics engineer who owned a full-scale helicopter. He started teaching me how to fly it, and I was working toward my full-scale helicopter license. We ended up not staying together, and I abandoned hope of being a pilot.

Well ... a few years passed, and I was watching videos on YouTube of helicopters flying, and in the list of videos was [one] of Nick Maxwell doing one of his famous "one tank tutorials" with a Thunder Tiger Raptor 90 nitro. I was in awe, and I had to learn this magic. Seeing Nick flying his Raptor really lit the fire in me to get into model aviation, which inevitably lead me to [buying] the E-Razor 450 and getting to where I am in the hobby today.

GeenaTucker Interview

8. Geena practices F3C flight at the Lake Placid Aeromodelers club.

 

 

CP: Is there anything else that you'd like to discuss regarding being a woman in the male-dominated hobby of model aviation?

GT: Being a woman in a male-dominated hobby is really not so bad, and they really do encourage us to get into the hobby. I read post after post on the forums where guys are saying that they wish they could get their wives to come out and learn to fly with them. I do hope that more of them will come out with their husbands so that they can see what they are missing out on.  

 

CP: Is there anything else that you'd like to discuss regarding bringing more women and/or beginner aviators into the hobby of model aviation?

GT: Come out to the field and try it. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t like it. If you do give it a go and you like it, don’t give up and don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the hang of it right away. Learning to fly RC models is going to take time. So, stick with it, and above all, HAVE FUN!

GeenaTucker Interview

9. Geena (bottom) is pictured with her sister, Grace, clowning for the camera at Seahawks RC Club. It was Grace’s idea to sit on Geena’s shoulders and hold one of her helicopters!

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