June 10, 2023

Model Sport
RC enthusiasts find joy at Black Diamond RC Ranch in Oregon

RC enthusiasts find joy at Black Diamond RC Ranch in Oregon

RC enthusiasts find joy at Black Diamond RC Ranch in Oregon

SUTHERLIN — Scott Haury has always had a love for the miniature.

Growing up, he used to build towns made from Hot Wheels tracks in his parent’s backyard, creating trails for the little toy cars in the dirt outside of their home. In the 1980s, he started using radio-controlled cars, commonly known as RC cars, small scale-model vehicles driven remotely with a controller.

Haury never imagined where his hobby would take him. Decades after using his first RC car, he’s now the owner of the Black Diamond RC Ranch in Sutherlin, a system of trails purpose-built for RC enthusiasts that stretches for over 3 miles in the hills behind East Sixth Avenue.

“This is pretty much my childhood, just on a much bigger scale,” Haury said. “I was playing with little Hot Wheels in the dirt, and now we’re here playing with these 1/6 scale monsters.”

The RC ranch is built for what enthusiasts call “crawling,” where drivers use large, rugged vehicles to traverse off-road and rocky terrain. During the winter off-season, Haury said around 30 people come to the trails weekly, but during summer competitions, the number can skyrocket into the hundreds.

“When we first started, there was probably like five or six of us,” Haury said. “And now it’s just a constant flow.”

Scott Haury kneels along a pathway used for radio-controlled 'crawling' at the Black Diamond RC Ranch in Sutherlin.

Haury calls himself an RC “addict” — he owns at least 15 large RC crawlers and close to 400 RC vehicles in total, including helicopters, planes and drones — but his journey to creating an RC ranch began with an accident.

Ten years ago, Haury, who works in construction, was badly injured. He broke his back, crushing four out of five vertebra in his lower lumbar, and used a wheelchair for six months.

“That’s how it all kind of happened, is that I got bored

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RC Car
Flite Fest 2022 connects model plane enthusiasts in Malvern

Flite Fest 2022 connects model plane enthusiasts in Malvern

Flite Fest 2022 connects model plane enthusiasts in Malvern

MALVERN – A small yellow model airplane glided peacefully through the air, about 50 feet above a wide, open field. Soon, a smaller model plane with red wings flew up behind it, bumping it from beneath. The yellow plane was sent spiraling, crashing nose-first into the field.

And with the plane’s destruction, onlookers cheered. 

More:PHOTOS: ‘Flite Fest’ takes off in Malvern

“Oh, you got him!” a man shouted into a microphone while dozens of model planes circled above. “Whoever got that one, come see me. We’ve got a prize for you.”

The spectacle, aptly named “Combat,” is part of Flite Fest 2022, the largest electric flying event in the world. For four days in the summer every year, model plane enthusiasts come from all over the country and the world to buy, build, display and fly model airplanes.

But flying model planes isn’t the niche, expensive pastime that some might assume. In fact, one of the event’s organizers said, it’s the exact opposite. 

“It’s not just a hobby,” said Josh Bixler, president of Flite Test, the model plane company that runs the event. “It’s a lifestyle, and it’s something that can give you a career path and something that can be beneficial in schools.”

Ethan Hedrick, a producer for Pilot Institute in Prescott, AZ, prepares 'Octazilla', an Octocopter made entirely of carbon fibre, during ‘Flite Fest’ in Malvern, Friday, June 24. The copter was manufactured and assembled entirely by hand by Don Heon, pictured top right, speaking to enthusiasts.

Bringing families together

Bixler, 43, explained that he and his wife created the family-operated Flite Test after they observed a trend of disconnect within families. They wanted to give parents and children a way to express their common interests through an activity that was fun, challenging and rewarding. 

More:Flite Test bringing remote airplane manufacturing to Stark County

The idea for a model plane company came from Bixler’s own experiences with his father. When he was 7 years old, he said, he and his dad spent months building a model airplane. When it was finished,

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RC Plane