During the early 1980s the Stark County Park System was developing Stark County’s newest park — Petro's Lake Park. The area being transformed was located north of Faircrest Avenue S.W. and west of Perry Road adjacent to the new Timken Steel plant. Richard Fry was the park superintendent at the time and employed a girl whose stepfather was George Zelenas, a model airplane enthusiast and a member of the Canton Club flying at Russ Oyer’s field south of Canton.
Whether a few members were disenchanted and sought a new location closer to home, or if Petro's Park was looking for additional recreational use and found a friend in Dick Roush, I don’t know. The year was 1987 when a group of committed flyers chose to relocate and build a new field at Petro’s Park. All were members of the Canton Club. They were: (the list is not definitive) Amos Alexander, Jim Cain, Bill Clark, Jim Dingler, Fred Gardner, John Haas, Bill Hyde, Gordy Jones, Ted Miller, Paul Moore and son, Ron, Miles Reed, Bill Reese, Dick Roush, Michael Sullivan, Terry Willaman, Jim Wilson, and George Zelenas.
These were the charter members of the new FLYING TIGERS. The governing body was a committee made up of Jim Cain, Ron Moore, Dick Roush, and Jim Wilson — Ron Moore eventually became the president and Jim Cain the treasurer. As with most new fields money was needed for grading, topsoil, seed, and fertilizer. Labor was provided by these few and Bill Reese loaned the group the dollars necessary. Yearly dues were $25 and an initiation fee of $25 was required of new members. Two runways, 300’x50’ and 400’x50’ were completed and Ron and Paul Moore volunteered to do the required mowing.
Petro’s Park and the Flying Tigers seemed a perfect fit. The park provided a port-a-john, and monthly meetings were held at the Sippo Park clubhouse. Membership had grown to approximately 75 during the second year of activity (1989) and the building of a pavilion was being considered when, like lava from a volcano; tennis courts, a ball diamond, complaining neighbors, a landing on the wrong side of the Timken fence, and finally a parking lot, eliminated all flying.
The Flying Tigers had no field and no place to fly during 1990 and the charter was not renewed with the A.M.A. Larry Maher, a flying Tiger member, was employed as a heavy equipment operator for Don Sickafoose’s oil operation in Magnolia. Don also owned the Magnolia airport with an east-west grass runway and a paved north-south runway. He hangered his Cessna 172 there and it was seldom flown. Larry asked on behalf of the Flying Tigers if a portion of the airport could be used a flying site. A lease agreement was negotiated in 1991 for $300 a year for an area mid - point and east of the paved runway. The advantages were immediately apparent.
1. A tree lined hill to the west provided shade for evening flyers.
2. A huge Elm tree shaded the pit and parking area.
3. No topsoil nor grading required.
4. Pilots had the choice of landing on grass or pavement.
There were also disadvantages.
1. The tree lined hill to the west.
2. The huge Elm tree above.
3. The pavement was unforgiving.
4. A swamp and creek behind the pilots.
The name was changed to R/C EAGLES when the new charter was applied for with the A.M.A. Larry became the president and his wife, Evon, was treasurer. Larry was paid $17 per mowing. A consistent membership of approximately 30 members made good use of the new site as most of the membership consisted of active flyers. A port-o-pot was leased and sat under the stately elm tree. Mother nature added to the ambiance with sightings of deer, fox, groundhogs, skunks and turkey.
In 1992 Don Groff was elected president and Jim Cain treasure, Dinner meetings were held monthly at Bentley’s in Perry Heights, as was the first annual Christmas party. It was at Magnolia that the legend of Horizontal Hiawatha was born and Marshall Green performed his imitation of Geronimo doing his war dance around a bonfire garbed in a loincloth, war paint, and full Indian head dress as a model airplane was sacrificed in the flames.
About ten miles east of Magnolia was a fantastic hillside shaped in the form of an amphitheater facing into the prevailing west winds and ideal for slope flying. This farm was owned by the Robertson family and encouraged use of the hill. We shared the launch site with Hang glider pilots from Columbus to Cleveland. There was no other place in Ohio suited so ideally for this venture. During the flying season of 1993 and 1994 several members built and flew sailplanes at that location. Pilots were rewarded after the twenty-minute trek up that incline to a vista seen only from an airplane. It was known as “Cardiac Hill”. One Sunday afternoon I counted 13 sailplanes resting on top of that hill.
Those were fun years! Dinner meetings were relocated, for a time, to D.D. Stutz restaurant in 1994. Don Groff relinquished his presidency to the vice-president, Charlie Heyman and the annual wiener roast was held at the New deal Club in Massillon, where Charlie was a member. The Christmas party took place at Ken - Mar Hall. The fall outdoor cookout has since migrated to Don and Jane Swensgard’s home.
As flying began in earnest during the summer of 1994 our club was in-formed that the runway at our site was going to be converted into a permanent drag strip. A few weeks later construction began with the installation of barricades along the airstrip and the Eagles were without a place to fly again.
In the spring of 1995 Charlie Heyman, Michael Sullivan, and Don Swensgard were scouring the countryside in search of another location when the Countywide Landfill was discovered near Bolivar. A flat, three-acre area was offered for our use. A flying space was developed with all the necessary expense and labor required. The runway was east / west and about 300 feet long, 50’ wide on the east end narrowing to 30’ on the west. The pit area was on the southeast corner and to the north was a steep downward slope that got steeper toward the bottom that contained a nearly inaccessible lake. An oil rock pile was to the pilot’s back. There was no shade and only the most experienced pilots made use of the facilities.
I know of no one who successfully learned to fly there. Some tried, but without success. Each member was required to sign a waiver of non-responsibility authored by the legal team of the landfill. We did have a port-o-pot that was blown over on more than one occasion. Mike Sullivan was hired as the field manager, mowed the field, pit area, and a round patch for U-control pilots. If you face east and a bit south in front of our existing pavilion, on the horizon in front of the row of trees, you can see two pyramids of rock and fill dirt. Those hills grew at the west end of the airstrip and eventually caused the demise of that site at the end of the 1996 season.
Countywide, evidently impressed with the sincerity of our enthusiasm for the hobby, offered the club our existing site that encompasses about seven acres. Countywide was helpful with leveling the area and providing an access road. Those that worked to make our field what it is today can tell you how labor intensive it was.
During this era our club continued to meet at Bentley’s and Tom Huberty was elected our new president. Bill Reese once again offered to advance the R/C Eagles the funds to complete the project and purchase a mower. Early in 1998 we voted to begin construction of the pavilion and install a safety fence. Chuck Frederick volunteered to mow the field and has been the field manager since. He now has additional help. East of our landing area is a fenced in pond containing a few acres of water. As of this writing the pond has no name, but a few candidates are trying very hard to have it named after them. Mushroom hunters have found an ideal spot for gathering during a few weeks during the fall months. The gas grill produced some tasty morsels one evening.
Marshall Green was elected president for the 1999 season and the meeting place was changed to the Perry branch of the Stark County Library. Dues for membership were raised to $30 and the initiation fee was eliminated. Membership at the time of this writing stands at 100 and the meetings are held at the Ohio Edison Building in Massillon. During the summer months a covered dish picnic is enjoyed before the meetings at the Countywide Field. A stainless steel grill provided by Ron Shonk is put to good use at these cookouts.
Members who have served as treasurer are: Jim Cain, Evon Maher, Ken Reel, Jim Dingler, and Bob Cash. Bill Hyde headed up the Christmas festivities and this will be the third year to be held at Newt’s Restaurant in Navarre. Tragically, Bill Hyde passed away just a week before this years (2001) party. His work in arranging the parties will always be appreciated by the membership.
The year 2000 also saw the second successful annual Fun Fly-In attracting approximately 150 flyers and spectators — several from out of state. Countywide has furnished the club with a port-o-pot and trash bins for which we are grateful. New employees and visitors to the landfill are given a tour of the operation, which includes a trip to “their airport.” Our members are greatly indebted to a handful of people who worked their hearts out to make our facilities what they are today. I won’t name them, but you know who you are.
The year 2001 saw the purchase of a new mower and field improvements. Dues were raised to $40.00 with a one time initiation fee again imposed to cover the costs incurred in building the field. A membership cap imposed by the Landfill has limited our membership to 100 members and we reached that total at the August 2001 meeting. A waiting list has been established for potential members to sign up. Unfilled membership slots will be filled after the dues deadline next year. Another addition to the club is our website (which you are currently visiting). Kraig Krumm has volunteered to maintain the website which will enable more effective communications within the club and community.
2002 Has begun and the R/C Eagles are ready for the coming summer. Tom Huberty has been elected treasurer for this year taking over for Bob Cash who served faithfully in the post for a number of years. All other officers are the same as last year. Membership dropped from last year, but open spots are being filled steadily from the waiting list. Our Annual Fly-In will be on July 7th this year.
July 7th saw the best Fly-In the RC Eagles have ever had!! Over 50 pilots from all over Ohio attended including the great Frank Noll from Dayton flying some amazing 3D aerobatics. Frank was joined by Billy Shaw and Matt Steck in the 3D demos. Also our own Bob Campbell entertained us with his Giant P-51 which was unfortunately lost due to a structural failure. Curtis Alderman showed up with his great flying B-17. From Virginia we had Dave Reynolds with several large scale aircraft and a first for our field, a R/C turbine powered Kangaroo. Space does not permit listing all the people that made this our most successful fly-in ever.
Elections in the fall of 2002 saw the retirement of Marshal Green and the inauguration of Ron Shonk as the new President, Kenny Baker as the new Vice President, Keith Thomas as Secretary, and Tom Huberty as Treasurer. Also we said goodbye to Chuck Frederick and his wife as they moved their base of operations to Florida. The annual Christmas party was held at the Executive Party Center on Lincoln Way in Massillon and a great time was had by all. Early 2003 saw the annual Mall show in New Philadelphia and the departure of Kent Shore for Florida. Kent has been the newsletter editor for the past several years and has done an excellent job providing that service. Good Luck in Florida Kent! The Newsletter editors job has been taken over by Justin Gesquiere. Preparations are under way for our annual Fly-in which will be held on July 13th this year. Once again Jim McCoy and Bob Cash with help from Keith Thomas and the membership have done a truly amazing job with the field. The grass was so green last weekend (04/19/03) it looked like it had been painted.
The flying year for 2003 could be summed up in one word, rain. We had one of the wettest years on record, but surprisingly enough, I can't think of one event that was cancelled due to the rain. Our July fly-in was again one of the highlights of the local flying season. Once again Frank Knoll, Matt Stek, and Dave Reynolds were on hand along with many other nationally known fliers to provide another outstanding day. Profits from the fly-in will once again enable us to maintain the field in the great condition it has been in for the last several years. Our membership dropped a bit this year, down to about 75 members which was a surprise but not unexpected due to the high turn over in beginners. The club voted at the October meeting to lower the maximum number of flyers to 80. A waiting list will be established to be filled from available slots next spring. In November the club elections were held with no one running against the incumbents. All officers remain the same for 2004. The club Christmas party in December was one of the best on record. Good food and great door prizes topped off an evening of festive celebration.
2004 was a rainy year for the Eagles but sunshine presided over the annual Fly-In. Many pilots showed up from around the country and the event was another rousing success. Ron Shonk's french fries were the hit of the show. The 2004 officer elections had all incumbents re-elected for another term with the exception of Tom Huberty who decided to step down as Treasurer. Don Swensgard was elected to fill his shoes. The 2004 Christmas party at Lakeside Center was a great event. Good food and great door prizes for all attendees. Late in the year Kraig Krumm took over the reigns of newsletter editor so Scott Waite could devote his time to his new business.
2005 was a great year for the Eagles! Our July fly-in was again a success with many pilots from the area and some from neighboring states. The elections for 2006 again saw all incumbents re-elected or rather re-sentenced to another term. The 2005 Christmas party was well attended and was held for the first time at The Pizzeria Restaurant near Belden Village. The food was excellent and the company was even better. Hats off to the Eagle's Ladies auxiliary for a wonderful holiday party.
2006 The Eagles had another great year with a successful Fly-In and Christmas party. Elections or rather acclimation put all incumbents back into office with the exception of Henry Fannin who took over from retiring Keith Thomas as secretary and Art Janson who took over from retiring Vice-President Ken Baker. The club added another shed to house the tractor and free up some space in the pavilion storage area for our gas grill.
2007 Saw the RC Eagles stage another great Fly-In with many flyers from the state and local area. A lot of great flying weather saw the field put to use almost every nice day. Ken Baker replaced the retiring Ron Shonk as President and Bob Cash taking over as Treasurer from Don Swensgard. Henry Fanin will again serve as our Secretary and Art Jansen will remain as VP. The club had two club events with both the Steak Fry and the Spaghetti dinner meeting being rousing successes. On a sad note, the Eagles lost a good friend and generous benefactor with the passing of Dick Fano, owner and operator of Aerotech Hobbies. Dick's fun loving attitude and his invaluable input will be sadly missed.
2008 The RC Eagles had a great year with a well attended Fly-In and fairly nice flying weather. Grubs took their toll on the field but steps were taken by the grounds crew and our field is back to it's former self. Ron Shonk was elected President (again) with Art jansen as VP Rodney Ross as Secretary and Bob Cash as Treasurer.
2009 This was a year of highs and lows for the RC Eagles. On the high side we had a wonderful fly-in with the minor problem of having to rush around at the last minute to get the food concessions going due to a date mix-up with the food vendor. Ron Shonk continued as President with Richard Ross as VP, Rodney Ross as Treasurer, and Kraig Krumm as Secretary. The low hit hard on Sept. 11th with the passing of Miles Reed. Miles was one of the major driving forces in the RC Eagles. His quiet leadership will be missed as will his fantastic flying exhibitions. We will miss our friend, fellow flyer, jokester, and conspirator.
the saga continues........