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Model airplane club spotlights members
Written by Lu Stitt   
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 00:00

People like to receive an award for their hard work even when that hard work is play, like flying model airplanes.

The Central Arizona Modelers Inc. recently recognized two of its members at the club’s annual banquet with awards for their hard work over the past year. Sedona’s Franz Herbst received the Most Improved Flyer award and Kevin Presmyk from Camp Verde received the coveted Richard Duffner Memorial perpetual award for outstanding dedication to model aviation.

Camp Verde resident Kevin Presmyk talks about his hobby of flying remote-controlled airplanes and shows a few of the aircraft at his home Jan. 18. Presmyk was recently honored by the Central Arizona Modelers with the Richard Duffner Memorial Award for Outstanding Dedication to Model Aviation for his work maintaining the model plane airstrip near Sedona.Herbst’s favorite plane to fly is his Extra extreme flight remote control 3-D electric with a 48-inch wingspan. He owns several model airplanes, all electric, including a helicopter, gliders and wings-only aircraft. Herbst prefers recharging his engines to using gasoline.

“They have a charging station at the field and I charge them at home,” he said. “I fly every weekend.”

Herbst started flying when he joined the club about 2½ years ago, although he’s lived in Sedona for 15 years. In the beginning, he admitted to being a very timid flier, only performing take-offs and landings. About one year ago, Herbst decided to become more daring.

“I started training on maneuvering in the sky — loops and patterns — and took a year off to practice. In December I entered a contest and won first place. That’s why I won the award,” Herbst said. “I feel honored, very much so. I worked very hard, but the year off was worth it. Our club has excellent teachers for newbies.”

Herbst said he also appreciates the efforts of other club members, especially field maintenance. CAM flies on a dirt field south of Sedona along Forest Road 525. Efforts with field maintenance and improvement earned Presmyk the memorial award.

“Since I’ve been involved — I’m going into my third year — I’ve helped with the maintenance and facilities at the field so everyone who goes there has a nice place to fly and to watch,” said Presmyk, who is a general contractor in the Verde Valley. “I’m not the best flier in the club, but it sure is a lot of fun.”

Presmyk flew model airplanes in his youth, but as he became a teen and adult, other activities started taking over his flying time. That is, until he married and discovered his father-in-law flew model airplanes. Presmyk’s interest resurfaced.

“I heard about the club and came out. Now I have about 12 planes,” he said. “I just crashed my favorite plane — a Tiger II — but I resurrected it with a new kit.”

At least if the plane goes down and crashes, the pilot doesn’t go with it, he said and laughed. Some RC pilots have video cameras mounted on their planes and can watch from a computer screen.  

Presmyk said he is like the poster child for remote-control model airplane flying.

“If I can fly one, anyone can,” he said. “This isn’t a dangerous hobby, but it is an addictive one.”

Presmyk’s grandchildren are fascinated with his hobby and hardly stop long enough to say, “Hello,” when they come to visit.

“They have to go right into Grandpa’s room and spin all the propellers,” he said. “They occasionally go with me when I fly. I go out at least once a week.”

The Richard Duffner Memorial Trophy is named after a longtime member of CAM. It is a traveling award. The names of former winners are listed on the base.

After visiting Sedona in 1982 and discovering the club, Richard and Helen Duffner bought a townhouse in 1983. The couple came to Sedona every winter and Richard flew with other CAM pilots. In 1985, the club decided to create an award for the member who, for the past year, contributed outstanding dedication to model aviation. They called it The Modeler of the Year. After Duffner died in 2003, they renamed the award, said Dick Scalf, a long-time CAM member.

CAM’s goal is to aid and encourage the interest of members and people in the community in design, construction and safe operation of radio-controlled model aircraft. The group is more social than competition, but they do conduct occasional contests. On any given Saturday, several remote control model aircraft can be seen in the sky near the field.

The Central Arizona Modelers welcomes model airplane enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds, as well as visitors. They are affiliated with the Academy of Model Aeronautics.


Lu Stitt can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 122, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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