Standard Examiner – Dedication


Model airplanes swarm dedicated Syracuse field

Tuesday , June 24, 2014 – 12:00 AM

SYRACUSE — Talk about messing with one’s perspective.
The airplanes were tiny, but the ceremonial check was huge at this weekend’s dedication ceremonies for the Wasatch Aero Modelers club’s newly purchased remote-controlled aircraft field.

On Saturday morning, WAM president Jeff Zemke presented a ceremonial check for $18,000-and-change to Cynthia Gardner and Brian Marsden. The two Layton residents had sold the 7 ½-acre parcel — which the club has been leasing for the last decade — giving WAM a permanent home airport. Among the small, scale-model aircraft, the already oversized check looked that much bigger.

Also at the ceremony, the club unveiled the name for the new RC park — Pitkin Field — followed by a day of flying, a competition, and a hotdog cookout.

The sign for the turnoff to Wasatch Aero Modelers club’s newly named Pitkin Field, in Syracuse. Photo taken June 21, 2014. MARK SAAL/Standard-Examiner

Jeff Zemke, president of the Wasatch Aero Modelers club, presents a ceremonial check to Cynthia Gardner and Brian Marsden, who recently sold the land to the club for its new Pitkin Field, in Syracuse. Photo taken June 21, 2014. MARK SAAL/Standard-Examiner

Remote-control aircraft enthusiasts from the Wasatch Aero Modelers club unveil the sign for the newly named Pitkin Field, in Syracuse. Photo taken June 21, 2014. MARK SAAL/Standard-Examiner

The newly acquired field was named for Terry Pitkin, a longtime member of WAM who succumbed to cancer in April. Club members say he was instrumental in bringing about the sale of the field.

Several Pitkin family members spoke at the field dedication, echoing the sentiment, “This would mean incredible amounts to our dad.”

A total of 54 RC enthusiasts donated the $18,900 to purchase the land, according to Zemke. The club, which started in 1987, currently lists 124 members on its rolls.

“This is more than just a flying field, but a place to have fun with friends and family,” Zemke told the few dozen folks gathered for the festivities.

Gene Ogden, of Sunset, has been a member of the club since 1989. He reminisced about the early days of the club, when they were flying out of a nearby field that doubled as a makeshift target range for locals.

“There were broken clay pigeons everywhere,” Ogden said. “Anything we left out overnight got shot — including our old riding lawn mower.”

“And the porta-potty,” someone in the audience shouted, to the laughter of all.

Eric Winslow, the newly elected vice president of WAM, said finally being able to purchase the field was extremely satisfying.

“We wanted to ensure we can have this field for many years to come,” the Kaysville man said.

Winslow said the field is used every day, weather permitting. A “newbie” himself, with only about a year of flying under his belt, Winslow is smitten with the sport.

“There’s just something about flying airplanes that’s addicting,” he said.

He went on to explain that it’s exciting, but also quite safe, in that you get to keep your feet on the ground. So if your airplane goes down, you’re not going to lose your life.

“Maybe lose a finger at some point,” he joked.

With the wetlands and high water table in the area, all agree that there’s really not much else the land could be used for. When the RC airplane enthusiasts approached Gardner about buying the land, she was all for it.

“I said, ‘I’d love you to have it. This should be yours,’ ” Gardner recalls.

The members of WAM had wanted to buy the land for years, but could never quite come up with the money. Gardner was glad they were finally able to get the deal done before Terry Pitkin passed away.

“We got to sign the papers before he died, so he knew about it,” Gardner said. “I’m so glad he knew; he was really instrumental in this.”

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272 or Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Like him on Facebook at