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Written by Tony Stillman
Flying Site Assistance
As seen in the March 2017 issue of
Model Aviation.

Hi again! As we move closer to springtime, thoughts of lazy days at the flying field come to mind. However, those days are difficult to find if you don’t have a flying field! Spring can bring bad weather and a chance that your club field could be damaged as a result.

AMA’s Club Disaster Relief Program can award funds to clubs in need. The following is a story provided by Larry Blanton, the vice president of a club that received funds to get its field back in shape. If your club is in need because of a natural disaster, contact AMA Headquarters to apply for the grant.

The Mississinewa Skyhawks RC club, AMA Chapter 281, flies from a grass field on the Mississinewa Reservoir property in north-central Indiana. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) manages reservoir water levels for the upper Wabash River watershed, which includes the Mississinewa River. The primary purpose for these reservoirs is flood control to protect area towns along the Wabash River and to control water flow downstream into the Ohio River.

A drone’s-eye view of the flooded Mississinewa flying field. The water level would eventually peak near the top of the pavilion. Longtime members can only remember one other time in the club’s 43-year history that water reached the field, but never anything like this. The flood not only led to the loss of wildlife, it killed many trees and all of the grass at the flying field. All area outdoor restrooms in the flood were condemned and eventually replaced by the Department of Natural Resources.

In early summer 2015, heavy rains engulfed the area causing three area reservoir lake levels to rapidly rise. The USACE reduced outflow from the dams to protect area towns and reduce downstream flooding. As the water levels of the reservoirs continued to rise, water flowed over the banks of lower lying areas and began to flood surrounding wooded areas, farm fields, and roads.

The Mississinewa Reservoir surface acreage nearly tripled in size, and water at the Mississinewa flying field reached roughly 11 feet deep before the dam’s gate was opened. The field remained flooded for nearly three weeks, killing the grass and damaging the wood structures, including the pavilion, restroom, flight stations, and signs. The club also lost many items stored in a shed, including two trainer aircraft.

The work begins! As luck would have it, the father of one of our younger members owns a landscaping business. He donated heavy equipment and labor to the restoration of the field. The donated funds and grant money helped greatly with seed costs. The club would not have been able to restore the flying field without these donations. Note the color change on the roof of the pavilion indicating where the water level reached during the flood.

As soon as the Converse Flying Eagles and Galveston RC Fun Flyer clubs learned of the Skyhawks’ plight, they offered the club members use of their fields! In addition, the Converse Flying Eagles hosted a benefit and the Huntington County Modelers took up donations to help the Skyhawks deal with the expense of restoring the Mississinewa field. PSP Manufacturing in Ossian, Indiana, also donated. The club applied for an AMA Club Disaster Relief Grant that was quickly processed and the Skyhawks were awarded a check from AMA to help restore the field.

Grass was planted in September 2015, and the club began flying from the restored field in spring 2016. In some ways, the field is in better shape than ever. It was leveled before seeding and the new grass meant few weeds to worry about. And the flood took care of a mole problem. There are still issues, such as the need to eventually replace the pavilion roof and items lost in the flood, but the club feels truly blessed with the many people and organizations that came to the aid of the Mississinewa Skyhawks!

-Tony Stillman

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