Cayman residents will soon get an opportunity to see some daring pilots make a mark in Cayman skies.
A newly formed Cayman Islands Model Flying Association has been secretly assembling an assortment of ‘war birds’, mossie fighters, crop-dusters, airbuses, aerobatics and water planes of all shapes and sizes and are honing their flying skills to impress local eyes.
Each Saturday the group meets at the residence of one-time Formula One racer and model plane hobbyist Steve Pontin-Warltier to participate in the flying sport hobby, which seems to be getting off the ground.
The vision of a model flying association came about after Mr. Pontin-Warltier attended a plane show at Owen Robert’s Airport during Aviation Week. At that time he thought it a good idea to start the club.
After the show he contacted a number of individuals with similar interests, placed an advertisement in the Caymanian Compass and word just got around, he said.
The budding pilots fly under the tutelage of President Andre Archer; Vice President James Jackson; Treasurer Donny McIhaggar and Secretary Steve Pontin-Warltier.
The club, formed 12 months ago, has also captured the attention of children charity supporter Dick Christenson, who has given the club permission to use a plot of land adjacent to the East End Sod Farm for an aviation park and landing strip.
Work is being carried out on the park’s two runways -a hard surface strip and a grass strip, which are both 600 feet in length. The grass strip is a much kinder landing for certain models, said Mr. Pontin-Warltier.
Other supporters such as Scotts Industries, Andy Bodden, Mark Quarry Services and Justin Wood are also lending a hand in the quickly growing sport
‘Flight is a marvelous invention,’ said Mr. Pontin-Warltier, ‘We started the club to promote model plane aviation in the Cayman Islands and especially to get the youths involved.
‘Not all youngsters are sport-minded but some have more technical aspirations. Joining the club would enhance and incorporate… skills such as electrical, woodworking, mechanical linkage, constructing and the joy of building and flying model airplanes,’ he said.
He added it was not all that difficult to assemble a model plane. ‘The package comes with detailed instructions, which an average person could put together. No special skills are needed only a wiliness to learn.’
He does advise member to experience the sensation of model aviation by getting familiar with the association’s trainer aircraft before making an aircraft purchase
Model kits made in China can be purchased by order for $139 and up, depending on the model, he said. To construct one from scratch would cost much more.
The association welcomes all members, whether novice or an expert, whether their interests lie in fixed wing aircraft or helicopters; whether the models are electric powered or internal combustion. Since the association is small, beginners especially will not feel intimated, said the members.
Mr. Pontin-Warltier has owned and operated model planes from the time he was a boy growing up in the UK.
He said his first model plane was one of those plastic static kits with rubber bands. As planes got more sophisticated his interest grew along with the hobby.
He continued his hobby after moving to Cayman over 20 years ago. His two children Logan and Sophie are also actively involved in the sport.
Not only does he have an affinity for aviation, Mr. Pontin-Warltier also enjoys fast cars, flying and building homes.
In his workshop there is a vast number of ready-to-fly radio planes designed to do maneuvers and on-the-spot precision flying. Planes litter the worktables, hang from the ceiling and dominate the floor space.
A ready-to-fly remote controlled plane named Fire Rescue sits ready to hit the skies.
‘This is the first plane one learns to fly,’ he said. ‘They then work their way up to planes designed to do maneuvers and on-the-spot precision flying.’.
Model airplanes fly on command from a radio remote control and are generally easy to operate. Some people just like to fly, while others find fun in assembling and constructing their own one-of-a-kind craft, he said.
To find out more about the flying club, interested persons can contact Steve Pontin-Warltier at 916-2327, or visit the website at www.cimfa.ky.