Model Airplane Enthusiasts Seek Permission to Fly in Scott County

Updated: 08/31/2014 10:33 PM
Created: 08/31/2014 8:39 PM
By: Beth McDonough

Model airplane enthusiasts in the southwest Metro are looking for a field to fly over. The Minnesota Valley Radio Controlled Club of Shakopee has its sight set Cleary Lake Regional Park in Prior Lake. 

Flyers appreciate the wide-open spaces of the public park because there's plenty of room to fly battery-powered, remote controlled planes fast and far.

"You get a big adrenaline flow when you first start to fly," said Randy Etken of Shakopee. 

It's a feeling Etken misses. 

The model plane enthusiast hasn't been able to fly his 30 planes nearly as often, since his club lost its Shakopee land to developers last year.

"There's about 300 guys without a place to fly and new people who don't have a place to and learn to fly," he said.

The Minnesota Valley Radio Controlled Club, along with others from Rosemount and Jordan, have been on the lookout for a new flying field. They sought and received approval from Scott County to establish a three year pilot program at Cleary Lake.

Flyers will make their case in September to the Three Rivers Park Board which oversees Cleary. However, there are concerns to overcome like the environmental impact.

"Those eagles are so beautiful and majestic, you hate to disrupt them," said Donna Blaschke of Prior Lake, who was kayaking with her family. 

"If we open up the park to planes the next door would be to open up the park to drones, that's a whole different issue," she said.

What about the cost of paving a runway and developing the field?  "We'll pay for all of it and all we ask is for use of the land," Etken said.

Scott County still has to work out an agreement on fees and times of the year when flying might be limited because of wildlife.  

There are 33 remote controlled airplane clubs in Minnesota representing thousands of flyers.  Each is required to be a member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, abide by safety regulations and have liability insurance. 

The Three Rivers Park Board meets in September.

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