The Tri City Modelers are a group of people who enjoy radio controlled model aviation. The group was formed in 1989 in San Manuel, Arizona with seven members. The members were primarily employees of the Magma Copper Company and lived in the towns of Mammoth, Oracle and San Manuel. When the nearby subdivision of SaddleBrooke was established, the group’s membership increased. After the mine and smelter were shutdown, their numbers decreased.
Today there are around 20 active members, some from Mammoth, Oracle and San Manuel but most of them from SaddleBrooke.
In 1993, a 230’ by 30’ paved runway was laid. The runway size was increased to 330’ in length in 2001. An 18’ by 36’ ramada was built in 1998 to protect everyone from the hot sun. The Tri City RC Airfield is located off of Veterans Memorial Blvd. near San Manuel. The entrance is approximately ¼ mile past E. Main Street on the north side of the boulevard. The public is welcome to come and watch the members fly their aircraft. The airfield is located on BHP property and is leased to the club. The club is at the airfield on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The members are made up of people of different backgrounds. Many are ex-military including some that were pilots.
“Most of us flew model aircraft when we were kids,” said one member.
“Some just love airplanes,” said another.
The members talked about how the model airplanes have changed over the years. When they were kids, they had to build their own out of balsa wood kits. Now, they are mostly made of foam. The radio controllers have improved so it is now easier to land and harder to crash.
The Tri City Modelers club is open for membership. Youths and families are encouraged to join. To become a member, you must first become a member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics. For the Tri-City Modelers there is a $50 annual membership fee, $5 for youth or $60 for families. The membership fees are used to pay for the BHP lease and maintain the airfield and runway.
For more information contact Bob Gellatly at 360-739-1891 or visit their website: www.tricitymodelers.com.