Model plane flyers grounded for now

Published: Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:29 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2013 at 10:31 PM EST
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ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A group of Albany radio control plane enthusiasts plan to go to the City Commission to ask permission to fly their hobby planes at Hilsman Park. Police ordered the group to stop flying their radio control planes at the city park after neighbors complained about the noise.

But the group says their planes are not that loud, and they want to find a compromise with the neighbors.

The flyers say the park is a convenient area for them, and especially for one of their members that's an important factor in his being able to practice his hobby.

For Randall Belt, who was paralyzed in a tree accident 13 months ago, it's a big part of his life. "I love doing it, because it gets me out of this chair. It gives me something to do that I can do. The things I used to do I can't do anymore."

But this month Albany Police ordered Belt and Frank Mosher and other friends to stop flying their planes at Hilsman Park. A group of neighbors signed a petition saying the planes were a nuisance.

Albany City Commissioner Roger Marietta said "He said the planes would fly over the neighbor's houses and make a whining noise."

The neighbors and the flyers disagree on a couple of points. The neighbors say the planes are very loud, and the pilots were flying every afternoon and on weekends, hours at a time. The pilots say it's not that loud, and they fly a much shorter time period.

Frank Mosher said "Total, we fly maybe a half hour at a time in the evenings. So I don't see how it could be that big of a problem."

Belt said "They are a little loud when you are right up on it. But when it's 100 to 200 feet in the air, you can barely hear it flying."

Belt has a small car, and can't fit his airplane and wheelchair inside, so the park is a convenient place for him to pursue his hobby. He would like to compromise on what time and how long he could fly, and will ask the city commission to give him and his friends a chance to not be a nuisance.

Marietta said "It's always down to that balancing of right. I think it's always something government inevitably gets involved with. Let's hope it doesn't go to the Supreme Court or something."

For Belt and his friends, they just want to use the public park for their hobby. Belt and his friends were told they would be charged with disorderly conduct if they flew their planes again at Hilsman Park.

They're asking the neighbors to compromise with their group, to see if the two sides can find a middle ground. The flying group will ask to be put on the agenda for an upcoming city commission meeting to ask city leaders to mediate with neighbors.

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