Good question, but a tough one to answer. The instruction at Barnstormers is always free for as long as you want. What you’ll be spending money on is aircraft, fuel/batteries (depending on the type of engine/motor), and radio transmitters, receivers, servos and other paraphernalia. How much you spend on that is up to you (or your spouse!) An electric trainer aircraft might cost you $300, several batteries and a charger, $300 again. A basic transmitter, yeah, you guessed it (well, almost) $400. Of course, we’d be lying to you if we didn’t mention that you probably will end up buying mo’ aircraft, mo’ batteries, and mo’ transmitters, but that’s your call entirely.

How Long Will it take for me to learn to fly?

It really depends on how quickly you can train your brain to use two joysticks along with several switches on the radio controlled transmitter you hold, to control that aircraft up in the sky about 300 feet away from you. Many folks nowadays train their brains using a personal computer RC flight simulator. There are several a few to choose from, but a good starting point would be to do a Google search for “RealFlight”. Don’t be fooled though — the RC training flight simulators are not the same as the Microsoft Flight Simulator; that’s for simulating full-sized manned aircraft — a different ball-game altogether.

But, if you put in about 30 “flight hours” on RealFlight, your brain will get used to the idea that what you do on the transmitter is all relative to the aircraft — not to you. So if the aircraft is flying towards you and you want it to turn to its right (which is actually your left!), you move the sticks to your right. A bit confusing isn’t it? We do it without thinking if someone is standing in front of us and facing us and you want to give them directions =- you’ll end up saying things like, “No, to your right!”)

That confusion is what we call “control reversal” and, until you’ve got your brain trained, it will drive you slightly crazy. On the bright side, crashing in the flight simulator costs you nothing. Crashing your model aircraft in the real world, well, it would be a good idea to at least try and minimize the risks of doing it.

How much does it cost to be a member of Portland Barnstormers?

Portland Barnstormer’s current membership dues are in the Membership Application Form.

DO I JUST show up at the Barnstormers airfield If I want to learn to Fly?

Basically, yes. But bring whatever you want to drink (no alcohol is allowed) and eat, some sun-block, sunglasses, and hat with a wide brim — oh, and a comfy chair — and show up on Saturday around noon, or Tuesday around 6:00 PM and there will be an instructor. Just to be certain that there will be an instructor at the airfield, contact our Chief Instructor (see the Contact page) and let him or her know you’re planning to come to our airfield. If you have one or more aircraft, transmitters etc., by all means bring them, but you don’t have to; we have our own training aircraft and you can use a dual radio control so that our instructor can take control of the aircraft if things, errr, go a bit pear-shaped.

once I’ve been cleared by an instructor to fly by myself, what next?

You just show up at the field during our permitted operating hours and off you go into the wild blue yonder (caution, in Oregon it’s often the wild grey yonder). Our permitted operating hours are specified in the Field Guidelines — make sure you’ve read those Guidelines thoroughly otherwise some of the more knowledgeable members will gently pull you to one side and explain what you might have done that didn’t comply with those Guidelines. We want you to fly safely and have fun.

I still have questions. Who Can I ask?

If you’re at our airfield, ask anyone there. If they don’t know the answer, the odds are they will know someone who will. Check out our Contact page though — please email anyone whose name you see there and ask your questions! If you want to get people’s phone numbers and if you are already a member, go to the Members Only page, enter the password and download the current membership list.