Remote control airplane model club located west
of Pittsburgh PA. We lease and maintain the premier flight field in the Hillman State Park.
Known as K. Leroy Irvis Radio Control Model Airport.
Our site offers 2 paved runways, covered pavilion and port-a-john. We are a diverse group of Radio Control Enthusiast, with interests in all things that fly including very small electric models that weigh a few ounces, turbine powered jets, gliders,scale models, sport models, glow, gas,electric. Some of us design, and build our own planes, while others just enjoy the flying aspect of the hobby.
Join us and come on out and watch us fly.
The Club’s rules adopted July 28, 2012 and agreed upon between the Greater Pittsburgh Aero Radio Control Society and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources are reprinted below for your review and consideration.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources has set the following rules regarding the operations of radio controlled aircraft within the boundries of the Hillman State Park.
The only approved area where radio controlled aircraft is permitted to operate is on the established runways at the Model Airplane Field (also known as the K. Leroy Irvis Radio Control Model Airport) in Hillman State Park. The Hillman State Park Model Airplane Field is operated and maintained by the Greater Pittsburgh Aero Radio Control Society model airplane club.(flying site organization)
Members of the GPARCS flying club are required to maintain current AMA membership.
Any non-member of the GPARCS flying club must preregister with the park office and maintain and display a current Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) membership in order to utilize the facility. The park office located at Raccoon Creek State Park during the hours of 8a.m. to 4p.m Monday through Friday.
Kirkland Leroy Irvis accomplished plenty during his lifetime. The first African American to serve as speaker of the house in any state, The Hill District representative helped pass legislation transforming accessibility to higher education in Pennsylvania.
A lesser-known accomplishment of Irvis' was getting a small airstrip built in a remote section of HIllman State Park for flying radio-controlled airplanes. Running about 450 feet north and 630 feet east, the strip has been the home to the Greater Pittsburgh Aero Radio Control Society since April of 1978. Anyone can fly a radio-controlled plane there, so long as they are a current member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics and follow the AMA National Safety Code.
Club membership, however, has its benefits, especially for beginners. "There biggest advantage we offer is assistance to new pilots," says club president Paul Dunn. "You's be surprised how many people come out here and have their controls reversed."
From electric-powered gliders to planes running on gasoline ore even jet fuel, there are plenty of options out there. Ready-to-fly kits are readily available on the Internet, some with stabilization gyros that minimize the learning curve. For do-it-yourselfers, there are build kits and online instructions for building planes out of foam insulation board.
Dunn describes the hobby as a great father-son bonding experience. Like many members, he initially joined with his son. Club member Rick Grimes did as well, and his son is now a commercial pilot.
"The best part is the friends I have made that are second to none," Says club member Doug Schneider. "Whether you enjoy the craft part of building or just want to fly and have fun."
Many members of the
club show up to fly weekly
on Thursdays at 5 p.m.
The air strip is located at
80 Model Airport Road in
Burgettstown. For more,
© Allegheny West Magazine | June / July 2015 | Page 26
A contribution to model aviation history was made in a relatively remote section of Washington County, close to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1970, a new 4,000 - acre state park was opened for public use. Of particular interest to modelers was the 200x350 - foot asphalt takeoff and landing site for model aircraft. Added conveniences included taxiways, ready areas, a mounted spectator area, large parking lot, and restrooms. Best of all, the park was placed under the control and guidance of the Greater Pittsburgh ARCS. Heres how it all came about.
Working with youths in the Pittsburgh area, the ARCS attracted the attention of James F. Hillman, a strip miner and philanthropist, who is interested in youth activities. Mr. Hillman gave the ARCS facilities to establish a model airport and through the years contributed greatly to aero modeling activities in the area.
Mr. Hillman believed that in strip mining a portion of the profits should be returned to the land and, restoring it to its original condition for future generations. Therefore he began a program of putting strip mines his company had worked back into their original condition through filling and replanting vegetation. For this effort, James F. Hillman was given the Outstanding Citizen of Pennsylvania Award.
About this time, he donated 4,000 acres of reclaimed, former strip mine land to the state for use as a public park. In the meantime, the ARCS was caught up in an expansion of highways and housing developments that were threatening to crowd it out of its long established flying site. The club decided to ask for space on the newly donated land, and with Mr. Hillman’s blessing it arranged a meeting with the state director of the Department of Forests and Waters. Other state representatives also attended, including K.L. Irvis, a state legislator,member of the ARCS, and later speaker of the house in state legislature. His political know - how and assistance were of considerable benefit to the ARCS’ goals at the new state park.
The meeting was held at the club’s original flying site so that the needs of area fliers could be demonstrated. State engineers were favorably impressed by demonstration flights, and also with the thoroughness of thinking and planning done by the ARCS members. They readily agreed that the club activities should be an important part of the new state park. The fact that the ARCS had controlled its old flying site without problems for many years also impressed the engineers.
Another important factor affecting this favorable decision was the far thinking approach of the Pennsylvania Park Planners. Unknown to the ARCS, they had decided that the public was ready for "noise" parks - places where people could use relatively loud modern machines without the dire consequences from those who preferred peace and quiet. The ARCS showed the way, mostly through strict organization and control of the field it had maintained since 1946. This is one of the main reasons why the club has control of its area of the state park. There had been minor problems with dune buggy drivers who roared through the park at will until confronted by ARCS members with blood in their eyes. What more could any parks department ask?
Another important factor in determining control of James F. Hillman Model Airpark was that the AMA stood solidly behind the ARCS as a sanctioning body, not only for chartering but through liability protection as well. Not many other organizations would be able to approach a state government and make the same conditions available, especially at no cost to the state. The ARCS flying site demonstrates what can be accomplished by one hardworking club that has a friend in the legislature and presents an image of aero modeling that benefits us all.
For more than 50 years, a group of pilots have been flying the friendly skies over northern Washington County. Until now, they've pretty much kept to themselves high atop a hill in K. Leroy Irvis Air Field in Hillman State Park, which consists of 3,654 acres of gamelands near Bavington.
Many of the pilots can be found flying their airplanes there on Thursdays and Sundays. And while their minds are in the air, their feet are firmly planted on the ground. The pilots are members of the Greater Pittsburgh Airport Radio Controlled Society, and they use Irvis field to fly their miniature planes..
"We come from all over," said GPARCS President Jim Rediske of Moon Township. From brain surgeon to truck driver, the society has 86 members of varying background and age who come from around the tri-state area to enjoy their hobby. The youngest member is 12 and the oldest, in his mid-80s. Rediske, 51, is a chemist and a native of Wisconsin. He, like many other remote control airplane enthusiasts, became interested in the sport at an early age. "When I was 3 or 4 years old, I can remember my dad giving me a stick and tissue plane," Rediske said. While he had an interest in the hobby, it wasn't until about 1990 that Rediske became serious about miniature airplanes. "It took a while until I could afford to get back into the hobby," he said. "It can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn't have to be." Rediske said the cost of planes ranges from less than $100 to tens of thousands of dollars. They come in all sizes and colors, some model images of the real thing. Rediske said newcomers often are told not to "fall in love with their first three remote control airplanes." More than likely, they're going to lose them. "Practice and patience is the secret to being a good flyer," he said. In addition to being a flyer, Rediske is a builder. He's made 20 of his own airplanes and has kits to build another 40 to 60. But not everyone enjoys building their own airplanes, he said. Some prefer to buy ready-to-fly aircraft..
From beginners to old pros, the society welcomes all at the hilltop airport, which features two asphalt runways, a large pavilion, picnic tables, fencing and other conveniences. "We have events, but our focus is just come and fly and have a good time," said Rediske, who also is involved with numerous other model airplane groups across the country and often travels for competitions. While the society sponsors several of its own competitions, Rediske said it has many other activities that promote family involvement. "We always encourage family members to come out," said 72-year-old Herbie Fletcher, a member who's been enthralled by airplanes big and small since he was very young..
In addition to his love of flying, Fletcher enjoys the friendships and camaraderie of the society. "It's also a diversion. It keeps me occupied," he said..
Before a pilot can fly at Irvis field, Rediske said he or she must be a member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the world's largest sport aviation organization, which has an enrollment of more than 170,000. The AMA is a self-supporting, nonprofit organization designed to promote development of model aviation as a recognized sport and worthwhile recreation activity. "The field is open to anybody as long as they have an AMA card," Rediske said. Most of the flyers wear their AMA membership card on their hat or clothing when flying, said Rediske's wife, Bonnie, who shares her husband's interest in model airplanes. "It's a little slice of paradise here," Bonnie Rediske said as she watched her husband prepare to fly his plane. "It's so relaxing." She admitted that more men than women are involved in the hobby, but that seems to be changing. And although GPARCS has mostly male members, she said more and more women are coming out to the field with their husbands to enjoy some time together. .
The flyers, manned with remote control boxes that are slightly larger than a brick, take turns as their planes taxi up the runway for takeoff. Once in the air, the flyers maneuver their airplanes across the sky, often doing loops, dives and other tricks. Some even emit smoke as they buzz through the air. "It's a wonderful secret," said John Smith of Scott Township. Smith, who was born in McDonald and grew up in Midway, said many people not only are unaware of the model airplane field but Hillman State Park as well. The state park is between Route 18 and Route 22 in northern Washington County. It was donated to the state in 1969 by James F. Hillman, then president of the Harmon Creek Coal Co., for outdoor recreation, said Albert Wasilewski, assistant manager of nearby Raccoon Creek State Park. The staff at Raccoon Creek also manages Hillman State Park. At the time, the donation was reported to be the largest single land gift for state park purposes in the country, valued at more than $1 million. .
In the late 1800s, the area was widely known for its mineral resources. From 1885 to 1910, an area near the present center of the park became a boom town because of oil discovery. The town was called Five Points, because five roads met there. More than 170 walls were dug, mostly by South Penn Oil Co., in what became one of the most productive fields in Southwestern Pennsylvania, Wasilewski said. Coal removal began in 1914, when John A. Bell stripped a small area on what is now park land. In the 1920s, J.R. Elec operated a deep mine extending 17 acres along what is now the southern edge of the park. The land was purchased by Harmon Creek Coal Co. in 1932, and through 1968, about 15 million tons of coal were extracted, primarily through strip mining. Following World War II, 42-inch augers were used for mining at the former village of Five Points, leading to its demise.
In 1937, Hillman began conservation practices on the stripped land. Through the 1960s, more than 2 million hard, soft and conifer trees were planted, primarily on the park's southern border. In the northern and western sections of the land, he planted grasses and other plants. Wasilewski said Hillman undertook the reclamation well before strip mining reclamation laws made it mandatory. He said following the state's acquisition of the property, reclamation continued to remedy problems caused by strip mining, particularly the acid flow in Brush Run, the park's main stream. About $3 million was spent on filling and grading, erosion control, treatment of soil with fly ash and additional plantings. While efforts continue today, Wasilewski said the park has become a model example of successful mine reclamation.