Smoky Mountain Aero Club. Since 1936 Radio controlled model airplanes have been cruising the skies at local airfields across the country. Many improvements have come through the years. In the early 2000’s there was a technology explosion that really improved and expanded the hobby. Electric aircraft started to become mainstream with the development of lithium batteries. Radio technology also saw the development of more reliable connections between the aircraft and the pilot. Computer technology puts onboard assistance on the planes to help pilots develop their skills and recover from unstable conditions easier. In the early days it was a very expensive hobby to get into and very difficult to learn. There were no readily available models so it would take months building a model stick by stick to prepare for flying. Today you can buy a complete package ready to fly right out of the box. You can go from the store to flying in just a few short hours.
The Smoky Mountain Aero Club is a group of individuals in Sevier County that are passionate about radio control model aviation. On any given day you can find one or more of the club members out flying their aircraft and enjoying the camaraderie of like minded friends. Throughout the year they have several organized events both flying and just general socializing. All sorts of aircraft can be seen at the field from trainers, general aviation, sailplanes, warbirds, precision aircraft, helicopters and drones. Club rules insure that all aircraft types are operated enjoyably and safely.
Established in 1984, the club has flown at various locations, but has been at its current location on Rainbow road for many years now, Efforts are underway to expand the field and provide an even better experience for members and guests. By the end of the summer there will be a new runway completed that will provide more flying opportunities. The club sits atop of one of the county’s old landfill properties. This has provided a recreational use of an otherwise unusable piece of land. As everyone knows, real estate is at a premium in our county, so having a place to fly model airplanes is an incredible opportunity in the heart of a tourist area.
The club is sanctioned through the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). The AMA is a community based organization that promotes flying safety and programs to the member clubs. One program is the Introductory Pilot Program that pairs a prospective pilot with an existing member to allow for training without having to join the club or the AMA. This gives someone the opportunity to try out the hobby and see if they like it without putting any money into an airplane or memberships. The club has one Introductory Pilot Program Instructor that would be thrilled to let somebody give it a go and see if it is for them. If you fly model airplanes and are visiting the area, give them a visit. If you are new to the area and looking for a new hobby, or a home field if you already own RC aircraft, stop by and visit the club. New members are always welcome. AMA membership is required which, along with other member benefits, provides insurance that protects the individual, the club, and the county. Club dues are a very reasonable $60 a year and that cover mostly field maintenance and improvements. Visitors to the area are welcome to join us so bring along an airplane and come on out. No charge is required but donations for field maintenance are welcomed.