Sunday, July 12, 2009

Full throttle: Motocycles, dragsters and model airplanes

Rob Black pulls up the plane's nose and puts it into a hover position, making it perform almost like a helicopter.

Story and photo by Bruce Thorson

July 10, 2009, Alliance, Neb: Rob Black is crazy about planes, radio controlled model airplanes that is. Rob, 48, has been flying for about eleven years.

Before his aircraft habit, he rode drag racing motorcycles. Then, he moved on to racing dragsters. He said he needed a change, a change that would bring about the opportunity to stay closer to home with his hobby and one that isn't so expensive.

He helps maintain the airpark for model aircraft located near the Alliance airport.

I spotted him flying his Extra 260, a stunt airplane. It's about 35 percent of the full-size version and his model has a 104-inch wingspan. I had wanted to fly a radio-controlled airplane since I was a kid.

I enjoyed watching him fly his plane. He could get it to perform all types of maneuvers--fly upside down, on its side, loops, barrel rolls and many more. "It takes an enormous amount of concentration," he said.

You see, when the pilot is standing on the ground--the plane going in many different directions from the pilot--left isn't always left, right isn't always right and so forth.

Rob has worked for Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad for about 30 years. Right now he's one of the lucky ones as the economy has forced BNSF to layoff over a hundred employees here.

"The economy hasn't really affected me, not directly," he said. "God has been good. He's blessed me with my health, my job, money, His love and mercy," Rob said.

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