The Road Ahead : June 2013
LIFESTYLE | FEATURE the sky's the limit STORY DEB ECCLESTON ROBIN KLAU ISN'T ashamed to admit that he's a big kid who loves playing with big, somewhat expensive, toys. Those 'toys' are model aircraft and Mr Klau, president of the Model Aeronautical Association of Queensland (MAAQ), isn't alone. He's just one of more than 2400 MAAQ members who take to the skies every weekend at one of 60 clubs across the state. "Flight is another dimension," Mr Klau said. "With cars you can only go forwards and backwards, but with an aircraft you can go forwards and backwards, up and down. It's about the thrill of flying these things, manipulating these small aircraft in a small area." Like most of the members of the MAAQ, Mr Klau was drawn to the hobby as a child. But once he married and started a family, he no longer had the spare time and money needed to keep his planes in the air. His passion never died, though, and after being 'grounded' for about 20 years, he was once again free to fly. A cabinet-maker by trade, Mr Klau prefers to build his own aircraft, however there is a wide range of ready-made aircraft available for those wanting 'instant gratification'. Once, people who didn't build their own aircraft were regarded with disdain by die-hard enthusiasts, but these days it's more about just having fun, he said. There are essentially three categories of model aircraft: radio-controlled, which have a transmitter operated by the controller; free flight, which fly without external control from the ground and; control line, which use cables leading from one wing to the controller. The type of aircraft people fly depends on their budget. Given there's every chance the plane could end up in pieces by the end of a flying session, most prefer the mid-range planes that cost around $500. It's not so much the price, however, but rather the complexity of flying that deters younger people, according to Mr Klau. "Young people think it's too technical because they have to understand how all the elements work before they can fly," he said. "Unlike video games, if you crash a model aeroplane you can't just press 'reset' and start again. You have to be really passionate about it." To inspire younger people, the MAAQ runs a free education program where they supply basic model aircraft kits that can be built in the classroom in 20 minutes, and then teach students how to fly them. For more information, visit maaq.org. IT'S A HOBBY DATING BACK MORE THAN 60 YEARS, BUT UNLESS A NEW GENERATION TAKES OVER THE CONTROLS, THE FUTURE OF MODEL FLYING COULD CRASH AND BURN. ROBIN KLAU Make life easier with an Acorn Stairlift Direct from the manufacturer Safe, reliable and trouble free For straight or curved staircases Ask about our free home assessment Indoor and outdoor lifts available An Acorn Stairlift could be the key to retaining your independence, while still being able to enjoy the beauty and space of the home you love.