By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
TEMPLE – It was not too far after 1960 when Frederick Huber of Nolanville remembers picking up his first rubber band-engine model plane.
He would wind the wooden propeller with his finger twisting the rubber band several times and tightening its stretch. When it wouldn't go any more, he would chuck the wooden frame and the paper winged model through the air.
"There is an old saying that the difference between men and boys is the price of the toys," Huber said standing beside several remote-controlled airplanes on Wednesday, getting ready to fly them later in the day.
Almost 50 years later, Huber will help fly a remote-controlled airplane across the United States. He is pilot No. 126 and is expected to fly the StevensAero SQuiRT some time in the next two weeks through the air space over the Temple Aero Modelers Inc. field just north of Moffat.
Huber said he has seen other projects similar to this one, but this one is different. This plane is being passed person to person by each pilot, he said. In previous projects, they have always shipped the plane.
Pilot 125, Joe Perch, will fly the plane in Georgetown before handing the plane to Huber. Currently, pilot 124 is holding it in Kerrville waiting for good winds to fly.
"It might be late Sunday or Monday before I could get it to Fred," Perch said hoping that he was going to get the plane on Sunday.
While Huber is excited to be taking the plane for a spin, he is also a little worried about the upcoming flight, he said.
"Mainly my goal is to fly the airplane to minimize its risk of damage," Huber said. "Flying the plane is a side issue for me," he added saying he was excited to be meeting another enthusiast.
Both Huber and Perch found out about the flight on an Internet forum called RC Groups.
"I believe I just saw a posting about it on the forums," Perch said. "I went to the Web site and sent an e-mail and now I am flying."
Huber's story was a bit different than Perch's.
"I was part of the initial group of people who discussed it on the site," Huber said. "I think my original message said 'that I believe it would be faster if it didn't come through the center of Texas.' But when they decided it would, I volunteered."
Huber bought his first remote-controlled plane at age 15 in 1975. He has been flying them ever since, he said.
Last year he counted his collection, and it had more than 60 planes, Huber said. Since then he eliminated some damaged aircraft after taking out the salvageable parts.
Huber flies about twice a week, weather permitting, at the Temple field on Belton Lake. He would fly at Union Grove, the Killeen field, but he prefers to have the sun at his back when he flies, he said.
Flying the planes is just a small part of the hobby for Huber, he said. He spends about 20 or 30 hours a week working on the models.
The plane being used to cross the United States has traveled 15,000 miles in one year, and is expected to finish the rest of its journey in another year.
Huber will be taking the plane to Waco after his flight.
"There (are) just so many ways you can play with model airplanes," Huber said.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7554.