A History of the Keystone Radio Control Club
By John Hickey

The Keystone R/C Club was formed in 1965 by ten members, each putting ten dollars into the kitty to rent a farmer’s field on Twining Rd. in Newtown, PA.  They actually had two fields at that location until the farm was sold.  One of the biggest challenges most clubs face is finding and keeping a flying site.  KRC was no exception, and over the years has had its share of moves and developed a number of flying sites.

From Newtown they moved to a field on Knapp Rd. in Lansdale, PA.  The next move was to a field off of Unionville Pike. in Hatfield, PA.  They were at that field a number of years until growing housing developments forced them to move and develop a field on the property of SPS Hallowell on Bergey Rd. in Hatfield, PA.  We had a lot of good years at SPS, but eventually the company went out of business, and we were forced to move again.  The next move was to a field on the property of Edwin Bechtel Paving in Salfordville, PA.  At that location we also had two different flying sites.  In about 1994, we moved from the Bechtel property to our current field on the property of J.P. Mascaro and Sons Inc., on Forman Rd. in Franconia Township, PA.

This field has worked out well for us and we have made a number of improvements over the years, including safety fencing, a gravel driveway with turn-around area, and a shade structure.  The runway itself is about 100 ft by 400 ft, and we have a good-sized pit area and parking area.  There is also an area just for helicopter hovering practice.

Although best known over the years for its leadership in electric powered flight, and the KRC Electric Fly (one of the first electric fly’s in the country), KRC is not an all electric club.  Like most clubs, electric powered aircraft are only a small percentage of the models flown.  Members fly all types and sizes of models, and most are powered by 2 cycle and 4 cycle engines.  Most members fly normal sport type model aircraft, but you will also see a number of scale models and some members over the years have excelled at events such as Aerobatic Pattern competition.

KRC is a Gold Leader club with an active instructor program, and stresses safety in the hobby.  Pilots can advance from unqualified (and must fly with an Instructor or Advanced pilot) to Qualified, and also up to Advanced and Instructor level if desired.  All unqualified pilots must have their airplane checked out by an instructor on the first flight, but once the airplane is proven flight worthy, and they have received some instruction, they can also be helped by pilots with an Advanced qualification.

Our club meets at 7:30 PM on the 2nd Thursday of each month at the Franconia Township Building on Allentown Rd.  Visitors and potential members are always welcome at club meetings and at the flying field.  The flying field has a gate that is locked when no members are present, but visitors are always welcome when the gate is open.

No history of KRC would be complete without a brief history of the event, which made the KRC name so well known in electric powered flight.  KRC’s interest in electric power can be attributed to our resident electric expert, Bob Kopski.  Bob has been writing the RC Electrics column for Model Aviation for over ten years.  Bob has a long history in model aviation, from free flight up to RC.  He flew a lot of fuel-powered models over the years, but has been flying only electric power now for many years.  Bob is an electronics engineer by profession (although he is now happily retired and even busier than ever), and over the years has designed his own transmitters, receivers, electric speed controls, and a number of model aircraft designs that have been published.

Bob organized the first KRC Electric Fly about 20 years ago, and we think that it was the first electric fly-in held anywhere.  The format was one of a general fly-in, with some low-key contests and a sharing of knowledge to promote electric powered flight.  Over the ensuing decades, the popularity of electric flight has grown, and so has the number of electric-fly meets.  Many emulate the successful KRC format.  Over the years, KRC maintained it’s basic format, with an emphasis on fun, but refined and improved it where possible.  One of the biggest changes was the adoption of a two-day Saturday/Sunday event, with the field open Friday afternoon for early arrivals.

The KRC Electric Fly, which soon became known simply as “KRC”, started in 1979 at our flying field off of Unionville Pike in Hatfield, PA.  When we moved to our new flying field at SPS in Hatfield the event moved with us.  The event averaged about 25% growth each year, and by 1988 it had outgrown our club field.  In 1988 the event was moved to the Buc-Le Aerosportsmen field in Quakertown, PA.  The Buc-Le field is a beautiful flying field out in the country, with lots of parking.

In 1991 the AMA presented KRC with a certificate of appreciation for its years of work promoting electric powered flight.  The Electric Fly continued to grow, and by 1996 we had even outgrown the large Buc-Le field, and the event was moved to the Queen City Airport in Allentown, PA.  One runway of the airport was closed for the event and we had a very large parking area.  The event continued to grow, to the largest electric event of it’s kind in the nation.  It had approximately 250 participants from 24 states, Canada, and even a few guest fliers from other countries.  In 2000, KRC regretfully decided the club no longer had the manpower and resources to continue the event, and was forced to cancel it early in the year.

In 2001, the Silent Electric Flyers of Long Island (SEFLI) picked up the ball, and continued the spirit of the KRC Electric fly with a new event with a similar mid September date.  Their event was named NEAT, short for Northeast Electric Aircraft Technology Fair, and over the last three years they have done a tremendous job supporting the growth of electric powered model aircraft.  Every year many new and exciting things pertaining to electric powered flight can be found at NEAT, and we are proud they are carrying on a tradition started by KRC.