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Pajaro River airstrip is little-known base for aircraft club

Posted: Wednesday, Jun 25th, 2014

John Kent of Aptos with his model Spitfire. The RC Bees of Santa Cruz County, a radio-controlled model aircraft club, have a flying field beside the levee near West Beach and Thurwacher roads. The club will have a display at the open house Saturday at Watsonville Municipal Airport. (Contributed photo)

WATSONVILLE — Turns out there are two airstrips in the Pajaro Valley. Yet most travelers on West Beach Road near Pajaro Dunes probably don’t realize that a runway parallels the road, across the strawberry fields in a narrow belt of land between levee and river.

The small, 417-foot black strip west of Thurwacher Road is RC Bees Flying Field, which for more than 35 years has been the stomping grounds of a radio-controlled model aircraft club of the same name. The 70 or so members gather there on Tuesday, Thursday and weekend mornings (before the wind picks up) to fly their stylized, specialized model planes.

Some members assemble their planes from basic kits, while others build them from scratch, with technology advances creating more advanced radio transmitters and the use of foam and other construction materials aside from the traditional balsa wood. The variety of plane styles at the field on a recent Sunday highlighted aircraft history, ranging from French and Italian-made aircraft from the early 1900s, WW II “warbirds,” sea planes, jets and more.

For the complete article see the 06-26-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 06-26-2014 paper.

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