Future of Model Airplane Club 'Up in the Air'

After 35 years, National Park Service won't renew special use permit

SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - The fate of a model airplane club in the Poconos is up in the air. After 35 years, members are getting the boot from their flying field.

The Roxbury Area Model Airplane Club uses the Hialeah Field along River Road in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The National Park Service is not renewing its permit, citing noise complaints. Members say they want to see evidence.

For many, an airplane is the escape to a tropical beach or relaxing vacation. But for club members, planes themselves are the getaway.

"This is my hobby," Steven Skuropacki, President of RAMAC, smiles.

Several days a week, model aviation enthusiasts of all ages cart their aircraft to the field and watch them soar.

"A typical Saturday you'll see eight people here maybe. Each plane will fly maybe 20 minutes the entire day," Skuropacki adds.

It's also a time to socialize.

"We sit around, interact, solve the problems of the world," laughs Bob Clark, RAMAC member.

But the National Park Service wants members to 'fly away' from the field for good.

Clark says, "we're very sad about the whole thing."

In a statement, the NPS tells Eyewitness News engine noise affects park visitors' experience. Club members say they've never received a complaint and want to see one in writing.

"We don't feel we're any noisier than the other people recreating in the recreation area or visiting the beaches, such as the boaters, hunters, motorcyclists," Skuropacki explains.

The NPS offered to relocate the club to a more remote spot, but members say none are ideal for flying. The group could also merge with another flying club about a half hour away in the Park, but they say it's too far.

"Twenty five minutes further north kind of puts a damper on things," Skuropacki adds.

Members say hundreds of families on their way to swim or hike in the National Park stop by to watch the planes. In four months, 500 people came.

"So you're not only taking the hobby away from us but your taking it away from all the people in the Poconos," Skuropacki adds.

Members say they've reached out to Senators and Congressmen without much success. If the National Park Service doesn't change its mind, the club must leave by September 30th.

Current law says un-maned aircraft cannot fly above the National Park, but the Roxbury Area Model Airplane Club was granfathered in.
 


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