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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Twin brothers build, fly remote control airplanes
Flying for fellowship and fun
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Photo by Emily Wood: Twin brothers Dan and Don Hale hope to get more young people involved in flying remote control airplanes. Both men are also deputies with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

Monday, July 21, 2014

By EMILY WOOD - News-Post Intern

Twin brothers, Dan and Don Hale, are hoping to help the Virginia Aircrews Club of Rocky Mount recruit more young members.

The remote control airplane enthusiasts meet on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month at Larc Field to fly their planes and learn more about advances in technology from each other.

"Our goal is to get younger members," said Dan Hale, president of the club. "What we really want to do is show other people the hobby."

Although the planes usually draw a crowd of onlookers, the club only has 11 active members, Hale said. Kids in particular are fascinated by the remote control planes.

The controllers have joy sticks just like a video game, Hale said. And crashing is part of the learning process.

"It's like a video game. It's all in the hand-eye coordination, but you're actually doing something real," Hale said.

Over 30 members have gone through the club since it was founded in the mid-1980s by Fred Williams and Larry Turner, and the technology has evolved drastically during that time.

"When we started, there was nothing but gas, then I converted over to electric planes," said Hale, who began flying remote control planes over 25 years ago. "It's less messy."

"With these (new planes), you just plug in and go," added Hale's twin brother, Don Hale, who is the vice president of the club.

Most members of the club buy their aircraft, but the brothers usually make their own, using foam board, hot glue, tape, wire and velcro. Dan and Don Hale are planning to start a beginner class for basic plane building at the Chillin' Smokes and Deli in Rocky Mount as soon as they can get the supplies and details worked out.

"Nobody else makes them (planes) like we make them," said Dan Hale. "My favorite's the biplane. My brother likes the jets."

Dan Hale also has a four-motor, quadcopter drone with an autopilot feature, GPS recognition and a camera for aerial view communication to monitors inside a special pair of goggles, he said. It will return to the exact take-off location with the flip of a single switch. The drone is capable of about nine minutes of flight with video before the battery dies.

Club treasurer Charles Rodgers said there are a lot of people involved in the hobby who aren't aware that there is a club or an airstrip in Franklin County.

"We just want everyone to know we're here," he said. "We have a good group. If one of our members has a problem, we all chip in and help. The success of one is enjoyed by the rest."

All club members are also members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, a national organization that has a strict set of rules and safety guidelines. The local club follows these guidelines carefully and has also developed its own set of standards.

"We're out here all the time and we just fly," said Dan Hale. "It's all about fellowship and fun."

Dan and Don Hale are both deputies with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

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