The sun doesn’t have to be out, and it doesn’t even have to be really warm; the only prerequisite is calm air. That’s when my husband packs one of his planes into the trunk of the car and drives out to a venue for other model airplane aficionados, an airfield somewhere in the very scenic triangle between Roy, McKenna, and Eatonville. On sunny, clear days, you will be able to see the Mountain right across the runway.
The first time I went along to this remote place, Pfeiffer Airfield, that seems like an oasis in itself must have been a 4th July do. I remember we drove down the grassy slope toward the parking lot behind the little club house. The big picnic area with its wide roof was already teeming with airplane people, spouses, and kids. The barbecue grills on the club house patio were going. There was a colorful and appetizing buffet set up inside, and the air was a-buzz with model airplanes all sizes. Well, at least back then it seemed “a-buzz” – today I know better: At no times are there more than four planes in the air at the same time. But what amazed me the most was an airworthy runway that looked like the real deal.
I know my husband had been looking for a place to fly his remote-control planes for a while. Not an easy feat here in the Pacific Northwest with all its dense forests and high trees in parks or power lines. When he found the Mount Rainier Radio Control Society (MRRCS), he immediately joined up after the first club meeting he visited. This year the club is celebrating its 55th anniversary. Founded in 1964 at the old Bethel field. In the early 1970s, the group found the present location, a privately owned 65 acre lot with an asphalt runway that they feared might get sold from underneath their model airplane wings sometime. Then president retired Air Force Colonel Bob Pfeiffer (whom the field is named for now) came up with funding ideas, and when the airfield indeed came up for sale, the MRRCS was able to make a down-payment and acquire the property for their uses. On July 4, 1986 the club celebrated their ownership with a gigantic mortgage burning party. By 1990 another 20 acres were added to the property to make sure that no residential areas would interfere with the growing club’s flying activities.
Today, the venue of Pfeiffer Airfield on 1516 Harts Lake Loop Rd. South even offers camping facilities with access to water and electricity to their club members. Think of fun flying events with people who relate … or maybe you just want to enjoy a sundown flight with the backdrop of a pink and golden hued Mount Rainier.
As an airplane man’s spouse, I have met quite a few of the club’s more than 80 members and chatted about all kinds of topics with them while either sharing a meal or simply watching them assemble or disassemble one of their remote-control planes. It’s never been boring to come along as a visitor. I might also be around for one of their upcoming events that are open to the public. On June 29 and 30, there will be a war-bird fly-in open to any Academy of Model Aviation (AMA) pilots, no matter what size or type their model aircraft. The landing fee includes a Saturday lunch for registered pilots. Summer tales on July 13 is another great opportunity to get to know the club and its amenities – this time, the event will be all about electric gliders. Of course, there will be plenty of opportunity to talk to other pilots (and spouses) over lunch and a raffle.
I have made plenty of memories on Pfeiffer Airfield. Weekends can get pretty busy, and club meetings are always interesting. I have been basking in the sun or been wrapped up in an extra-coat by the runway, watching one of our birds fly or reading a book. We have seen hawks fly with the planes, and the other day an elk and its calf were walking through the meadow across from the club house. There are ducks and beavers in the area, too. You can hear song birds, and just enjoy the soft breezes carrying the fragrance of hay and the rolling clouds in the sky.
Pfeiffer Airfield is never boring, whether you are a pilot or not, whether you are flying or not. These days, the MRRCS are planning to improve the runway. And there are more fun flying events in the planning. If you want to know more, hop over to the club’s website mrrcs.org. Who knows – you might want to join up, too …