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Airplane club aims to recruit new student pilots

February 18, 2019

ASHLAND — Terrance Maggard, a retired Air Force pilot, said the love of flying is ingrained in his blood.

His grandfather was a pilot, his father was a fighter pilot, and now Maggard’s son is a captain in the air force, responsible for flying an F-22 fighter plane.

Maggard said he never pushed his son, Capt. Brent Maggard, to carry on the family tradition, but it happened anyways thanks to a shared hobby of flying model airplanes.

Terrance Maggard is a member of the Tri-State Model Flyers, which were at the Ashland Town Center Mall on Sunday. The group had dozens of model airplanes on display, from single-engine Cessnas to fighter jets.

The group aims to get more younger people interested in the hobby, which could be a good

fit for a generation raised on gaming remote controls. The model airplanes are flown with stick controllers that come natural to PlayStation and Xbox players, Terrance Maggard said

“My son went from flying the remote control planes out of the Tri-State Flyers Club to flying the F-22′s at Mach 2 at 60,000 feet. It was quite an impressive change,” he said.

When he joined the club, his son was the flyer for the first couple of years. The other members tried to get the elder Maggard to take control, but he was reluctant.

“I said, ‘No, I’m the finance, maintenance and logistics officer. My son is the pilot,’ ” he said.

That changed when his son, then 11 years old, invited him to take the controls, essentially teaching his retired pilot father how to fly a miniature version of a fighter plane. From that day on, Terrance Maggard said flying model airplanes became his hobby that he still continues 20 years later.

It’s easy for anyone to get involved in the hobby, said Tom Layne, the club’s treasurer. Many model airplanes come near-ready, with only minor assembly required. The airplanes are also cheaper than they were 10 to 20 years ago, thanks to electronic advances that make them lighter.

The group owns its own clubhouse and flying ground at Paul Coffey Industrial Park in Cannonsburg, Kentucky, which gives them a wide-open space to sail the skies or sometimes accidentally crash.

They never get discouraged over crashes, Layne said, because they have an opportunity to salvage the pieces and make the next plane better.

Layne encouraged anyone who is interested in taking up the hobby to visit the group’s clubhouse in Cannonsburg or by calling the club’s president, Lawrence Caines, at 606-923-3038. Members are always eager to donate starter planes and parts to student pilots, he said.

The Tri-State Model Flyers will host an open house “fly-in” event from June 7-8. Spectators are welcome, Layne said.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.