Fun Fly a success

Published 8:54 pm Monday, November 5, 2018

Aircraft swooped, soared and even flew upside down at the Hampton Roads Radio Control Club’s 12th annual Fun Fly event on Saturday. The tricks weren’t life-threatening, though; the pilots stayed on the ground while they watched their remotely controlled planes fly through the sky.

The event is one of the first of the holiday season to benefit Toys for Tots and the Suffolk News-Herald’s Cheer Fund, and it is sort of an unofficial kickoff for the fundraising season.

“I figure we’ve probably donated $20,000-plus in dollars and thousands of toys over the years,” said club member Mills Staylor. “It’s been a good thing, and the club has enjoyed doing it.”

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The club has 50 or so members that enjoy their “airport” at Lone Star Lakes Park. The turnout on Saturday was between 50 and 75, including family members and friends. But there were few airplanes flying; the wind hampered flying for smaller craft and less experienced pilots.

But there was still plenty of fun, camaraderie, food and, of course, the all-important goal of gathering toys for Toys for Tots and raising funds for the Cheer Fund.

Keith Desbois, a former public affairs officer with the U.S. Marine Corps, started the Fun Fly in 2007, when he was still on active duty and had the Toys for Tots program under his purview. He has since left active duty as well as the Hampton Roads Radio Control Club due to other time constraints, but he made it back for this Saturday’s event.

“It’s a great event,” he said. “The main thing is we get to give back to the community. A lot of families can’t afford to provide toys and have a good Christmas for their children. Toys for Tots is the premier program to help those families. It was just a good way to help out the community.”

Among those who were able to fly on Saturday was Joshua McCreary, an 18-year-old from Suffolk who has already established himself as among the best in the world at radio-control flying. In September, he placed fourth in the advanced category at the IMAC (International Miniature Aerobatic Club) world championships in Muncie, Ind.

McCreary first got into flying at age 9, when he met some members of the Hampton Roads Radio Control Club at the Driver Days festival. Two or three years later, he started to get more serious about it. “This is basically my seventh year,” he said.

He now flies a yellow and black, kit-built craft that weighs 33 pounds and has a 112-inch wingspan. It took four years to build it, he said.

“I just really enjoy the flying,” he said. “I enjoy the camaraderie.”

Saturday’s event also featured a skydive by Skydive Suffolk. The parachuters dropped in dressed as Santa Claus, elves and the Grinch, among other characters.

Donations to the Suffolk Cheer Fund can be made by sending a check made out to Suffolk Cheer Fund to the Suffolk News-Herald, P.O. Box 1220, Suffolk, VA 23439 or bringing it to the Suffolk News-Herald office, 130 S. Saratoga St., Suffolk, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Donations can be made in honor of or in memory of loved ones. Donations can also be marked anonymous if the donor chooses. Those who wish can also have their photo taken presenting the check.

Online giving is also available. Visit Suffolk Cheer Fund on Facebook to find a PayPal link.