Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Flying High

Meet the Fairfield Aces at Bigelow Center for Senior Activities



Dr. Irwin Weisbrot, 86, of Norwalk, Art Fressola, 71, of Huntington, and Fred Schneider, 70, of Stratford, with their radio-controlled planes.

Photos by Mike Lauterborn

“Big boys with little toys” is how a visitor to Fairfield’s Bigelow Center for Senior Activities might describe the scene if they dropped by midweek and peeked in the gym. The description—of the men that make up the Fairfield Aces model airplane club—would be accurate, to an extent. Fairfield Magazine was lucky to do an instrument check with head Ace Rick DeAngelis.

A resident of Fairfield for 63 years and lifelong model plane enthusiast, 79-year-old DeAngelis founded the group in 2002, with six initial members. Today, the club has 24 participants, half of whom are former pilots and the rest hobbyists. They meet at the center every Wednesday afternoon from 1 to 3:15 to socialize and fly a mix of radio-controlled (RC) planes, small rubber band-powered planes called P-Nuts and larger, Open Scale planes.

DeAngelis is no fly-by-night ace either. He served in the U.S. Air Force 1956-58, entering as a corporal and retiring as a sergeant, and functioning as a Chinese language translator. He would accompany a crew as they flew along the China coast and intercept and translate radio communications, gathering ELINT—a shortened moniker for electronic intelligence. He was based in South Korea and, in off-hours, would build model planes and enter them in contests on the base.

Post-service, DeAngelis worked with the NSA (National Security Agency) then used his GI bill to earn a degree in history from Fairfield University and teach at Roger Ludlow High School (now Fairfield Ludlowe High School). Later, he earned a doctorate in Chinese History and taught the subject at Fairfield University, from 1971 until he retired in 2009. 

When DeAngelis formed the Aces, there was a larger, national model airplane hobbyist group in play called the Flying Aces, co-founded by Dave Stott of Bridgeport. DeAngelis could have joined but wanted to be more under the radar, so he created his own independent group. 

At that time, micro RCs were a developing trend, though DeAngelis’ group favors the larger RC planes and stick-and-tissue aircraft. To explain, a P-Nut can’t have more than a 13-inch wingspan and can be bought as a kit or built from plans, out of balsa wood, tissue paper, wire for landing struts, plastic for the propeller and rubber for the wheels. A Bostonian is a P-Nut with a 16-inch wingspan, a cockpit compartment that must fit a three cubic inch space and windshield, to look like a real prototype airplane. Open Scale is any plane above an 18-inch wingspan and mostly flown outdoors as indoor spaces are often too tight to make circles.

With regard to the RCs the group flies, they tend to be even larger, though still lightweight, with receivers that might be an inch square. Rick owns six RCs with wingspans that are 48 inches or more and powered by nine- to 12-volt batteries. He also owns four “schoolyard” scale RCs and five or six P-Nuts. 

Model airplane enthusiasm runs in the DeAngelis family. “My mother’s father knew Gustave Whitehead”—now credited with the first manned flight, which took place in Bridgeport in early 1901—“and remembered him talking about his ‘machine.’”

While DeAngelis’ three sons didn’t get the model airplane bug, his two grandsons have embraced them. DeAngelis can’t wait until they are a bit older, to show them how to build and fly some of the more complex planes.

Meanwhile, DeAngelis is furthering his own education. He and his fellow Aces attend the Northeast Electric Aircraft Technology Fair (NEAT), held every September in Shinhopple, New York, which is the nation’s largest gathering of electric model aircraft fans. “There are a lot of engineers and gurus that attend, like Joe Malinchak, an airline pilot, who builds RC planes, like a little P-51 Mustang with a four-inch wingspan that weighs six grams, is battery powered and has full controls,” says DeAngelis. “These guys keep pushing the envelope to go smaller. Another trend is to build little five-millimeter motors that propel model planes to move like jets.”

Reflecting on his group, DeAngelis remarked, “We’re all airplane nuts. It’s amazing to build them and see how they fly. You’re doing all the basic things you would do to build a real airplane.”

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

               

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

November 2018

Celebrate the 100th birthday of the legendary musician, composer, and activist Leonard Bernstein with his oldest daughter, Jamie Bernstein, as she discusses her deeply intimate and broadly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

YES AND COMPANY Website   Facebook Improv is all about saying yes, and... to whatever life throws at you. We can give you the tools to use your brain in a new way. Our classes are perfect...

Cost: $20.00

Where:
Wall Street Theater
71 Wall Street
Norwalk, CT  06850
View map »


Sponsor: Wall Street Theater
Telephone: 877-987-8764
Contact Name: Jeanne Moore
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

It's a tradition now, eight years running! Winners of the Independent Music Awards “Best Live Performance” Category, BroJo is on a mission to make the world a more righteous...

Cost: $28 Members Save:$3 /tckt

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company StageOne
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

  The Garcia Project’s performances are based on actual set lists performed by The Jerry Garcia Band. All of their shows are classic recreations of a Jerry Garcia Band set list from the 1976 to...

Cost: $20.00

Where:
Wall Street Theater
71 Wall Street
Norwalk, CT  06850
View map »


Sponsor: Wall Street Theater
Telephone: 877-987-8764
Contact Name: Jeanne Moore
Website »

More information

For over a half-decade, Mullett has proven themselves to be the Premier Rockers for Hair Band fanatics and lovers of rock n roll. By delivering the best of the 1980’s in Big...

Cost: $22

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company The Warehouse
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

For over a half-decade, Mullett has proven themselves to be the Premier Rockers for Hair Band fanatics and lovers of rock n roll. By delivering the best of the 1980’s in Big Hair and faithful...

Cost: $25/ticket; No Member Discount; tanding Room Only; Limited Seating Available

Where:
The Warehouse at FTC
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

Pequot Library’s cozy Book Sale: Come to relax, browse, and buy. Plenty of free parking! Admission is free and all items are priced as marked. All Sale proceeds support Pequot Library’s annual...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

A Thanksgiving weekend tradition continues at FTC! Come and sing-along to the most popular animated film of all time. When their kingdom becomes trapped in perpetual winter, fearless Anna joins...

Cost: 5

Where:
The Warehouse at Fairfield Theatre Company
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Santa Visits Fairfield – a Fairfield Tradition November 24, 2018    LOCATION CHANGE FOR 2018: OLD TOWN HALL GREEN (611 Old Post Road, Fairfield) Santa is arriving and visiting Fairfield on...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Old Town Hall Green
611 Old Post Road
Corner of Old Post Rd & Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 203-255-1011
Contact Name: Krista McCormack
Website »

More information

Everyone's favorite holiday classic comes to life in the all-new touring production A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage! Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and the whole Peanuts gang as...

Cost: $59

Where:
Stamford Center For The Arts - Palace Theatre
61 Atlantic St.
Stamford, CT  06901
View map »


Telephone: 802-255-1826
Contact Name: Emily Carter
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Pequot Library’s cozy Book Sale: Come to relax, browse, and buy. Plenty of free parking! Admission is free and all items are priced as marked. All Sale proceeds support Pequot Library’s annual...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Front Desk
Website »

More information

Shoplifting Saturday's are coming to PET PANTRY in Fairfield, CT!  Your pup is approved to sniff, seek and swipe ONE Earth Animal No-Hide Chew for their chomping pleasure! And they will receive a...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Pet Pantry
1876 Black Rock Turnpike
Earth Animal
Fairfield, CT  06825
View map »


Sponsor: Earth Animal
Telephone: 203-557-3322
Contact Name: Brooke Valenti
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags