Flying High
    Category: Forbes Life By : Sonya Angraini Read : 1445 Date : Monday, December 02, 2013 - 08:17:25

    Edy Purnomo for Forbes Indonesia

    Almost every Sunday morning, tucked away on the outskirts of Halim Perdanakusuma airport one can find the members of the Jakarta Raya Aeromodelling Club (JAC) flying their model airplanes and helicopters. Using a special miniature runway, purpose-built for the club, the members gather to enjoy their passion, at a location at the end of unmarked dirt road. The five-hectare field also has two helipads, as well as staging areas.

    Next to the runway is a covered viewing area for watching the planes and worktables for members to tinker with their flying machines. Some members are assembling them or doing maintenance, while others are testing the remote controls. Others are out in the sun, flying their creations. This hobby is not cheap. Some planes can cost as much as Rp 100 million, although the most basic model plane may cost only Rp 500,000.

    Mulyono, a member for more than 20 years, says aeromodelling has a long history in Indonesia, dating back to the colonial era in the 1940s. First started by the Dutch, Indonesians soon thereafter started to build and fly their own model planes in the 1950s. The number of Indonesians who could enjoy the sport were few due to the high cost and limited supply of model planes.

    The numbers steadily grew as many factors came together: higher incomes, better supplies and better technology. “It developed not only in Jakarta, but also in other parts of the country,” says Mulyono, who has retired from Indonesia's air force. Today JAC has around 250 members, ranging from students to retirees. Other groups have also sprung up, and now JAC and other groups are all under the Indonesian Aero Sport Federation (FASI) based in Jakarta.

    Aeromodellers must follow rules, some not much different than one would find at a regular airport. One is training. Everyone in the club must pass a training course, usually given by a more senior member, before they are allowed to fly on their own. Most remote controls usually has anywhere from four to eight channels. One channel for gas, one for turning left and right, one for flying up and down, one for the wings (additional channels are for added functions). Members should master basic techniques such as takeoff, lifting force and landing, as well as demonstrating basic control of their craft. “We usually ask them fly in a square pattern,” says JAC General Secretary Janto Partosiswojo. “We are free to play, but we must play right.” Most trainees can fly on their own after training on weekends for one month.

    Safety is also a priority. “Our members must know how to install a transmitter, inject fuel correctly, and when is the right time to turn on the machine,” says Janto. The planes should be carefully checked before takeoff and after landing. The frequency used by the remote controls is another safety factor. Some planes' remote controls use the same frequency, so others using that frequency cannot fly at the same time, as the interference could cause crashes.