Eagles r/c clubThe Long Island Flying Eagles was formed in 1975 by Wally Rodriguez, who had an insatiable desire for building and flying fixed-wing radio controlled model airplanes. The entire roster at that time consisted of five individuals who shared the same desire, in fact, one of the five
members is our own Chuck Kuhl.
With a host of empty land available at that time and with an agreeable land owner who was willing to rent, Wally found a large parcel on the outskirts of Riverhead. With only rakes and shovels in hand, the five friends carved out a pretty fair area to fly from.
As expected, word got around and, soon after, the Eagles were accepting new members. However, a building boom focused upon Suffolk County and developers were buying up as much land as they could from landowners. As expected, it was only a matter of time before the flying field was history.
In 1977 Wally found another large parcel of land located in Middle Island right off Route 25, Middle Country Road. Once again the existing membership, now totaling 12 worked the land and created a better flying field than before. The field, being geographically centered, attracted other RC enthusiasts and soon the roster grew to 22 members. Over the following years, the clubs reputation grew. The Eagles were invited by the local Vintage Aircraft Owners Association to put
on radio controlled airplane demonstration flights, as well as static displays, at their annual flyins at the Brookhaven Airport. The Eagles also put on a demonstration at the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation field in Connecticut.
The Eagles were devastated in mid-1985 when Club President Wally Rodriguez was killed in an ultra light crash at the Coram Airpark. The membership has kept his memory alive by holding an annual Wally Rodriguez Memorial RC airshow at Sunken Meadow State Park; the Wally Show continues to this day.
Early summer of 1989, the Eagles were advised to move on as the field has been sold to developers, but lady luck did smile on the club. By early fall of that same year, the Eagles were flying off Kathys Farm, not far from the Grumman Calverton airfield. The owner was deeply interested in RC and liked the idea of a small club whose activity would not interfere with his farm activities. He offered the Eagles a large manicured grass field with no homes close by, an ideal situation. The only hitch was that the Club had to accept the owner and his son into the Club and teach them to fly. Because of the proximity to the Grumman facility, we also had to be extremely aware of the Grumman aircraft operating in the area. What a deal; no mowing, low rent and, best of all, an Eagle who owned the land. But, once again, disappointment fell upon the club. The Town of Riverhead identified zoning violations regarding the owners farm stand. The farmers situation led to the termination of our lease. Again, we were left with no field to call our own.
From 1991 to 1995 the Eagles were without a field and a host of members found other clubs and fields to fly from and, unfortunately, let their memberships lapse. However, a small number of Eagle diehards kept the club chartered and solvent while continuing to search for a suitable field. A sincere thank you to the Wing Nuts, a Grumman RC club, who graciously invited the remaining few Eagles to fly with them at their field while seeking a field of their own. Since the formation of the flying Eagles in 1975, Club meetings were held at many different locations, the most memorable was the historic Heritage House in East Setauket, but in 1994, for economic and scheduling reasons, it was decided to move our meetings to the Brookhaven Recreation Facility in Blue Point where we continue to gather once a month even now. In 1996 the existing membership found themselves flying off a very small field quite near the Middle Island Golf Course and amid residential homes. As expected, it was only a matter of time before local politicians politely told us to move on. With no available land conducive for flying in
the immediate area, the club was forced to migrate further east.
After months of searching, in 1998 a field off Youngs Avenue in Baiting Hollow was found and the small cadre of Eagles once again took rakes and shovels in hand and cultivated a pretty decent field. Obviously, having a field does attract new members and it was only a matter of time before our membership grew. This location served as the Eagles field until 2002. Beginning in May 2001, dark clouds began to form with rumors that our field was up for sale, once again to developers. As the rumors persisted, we began our search for our next location. For the rest of 2001, the search went on, site after site was pursued without much luck. On February 1st, 2002, our lease was terminated and again we were homeless. Somehow, the club stayed together
and we continued our monthly meetings.
In the fall of 2002 one of our members came across a field long in use, but then only by a few unaffiliated RC flyers. After meaningful negotiations, on April 1st 2002 the Eagles, then 32 strong, officially took over possession of our current field on the Dosiak farm in Manorville. However, there were conditions imposed; we had to offer membership to those then flying at the field, we had to limit our membership to 50 members and, since the entire area was also leased to a hunt
club we could not use the field at all from January through March.
The field provides us with two runways, one tarmac approximately 36 feet by 300 feet and one grass approximately 60 feet by 300 feet. During our stay, the following improvements have been made to the field:
- erected a shed to house two lawn tractors erected a safety fence to protect the pit area
- installed a sunshade to keep the summers heat at bay fabricated six service tables to pit planes
- ran an electric line to the shed sufficient to accommodate field chargers and such.
Respectfully submitted: Bob Sanginario, member since 1980.