Airfield Renovation Plan - Sterling Field, Sara Park AZ
Desert Hawks Radio Control Club
Radio Control Club
Lake Havasu City, AZ
2014 Airfield Renovation Plan for Sterling Field, Sara Park
The Desert Hawks RC Club, P.O. Box 1463, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403
The Desert Hawks Radio Control Club was formed in 1977 with the purpose of securing a permanent flying site and promoting the R/C airplane hobby in Lake Havasu City. In 1980 Sterling Field was created in honor of Jim Sterling, a war veteran, who worked tirelessly to secure the property for the club and promote the hobby in Lake Havasu City. The County helped by grading and oiling the runway until the club could afford to have it paved. What started as a thin sliver of land, bordered on three sides by gullies is now, through the hard work of Club members with donated equipment and manual labor, one of the better fields in this area.
The Desert Hawks R/C Club has been at home in Sara Park for 24 years. Back when the field was first created, our hobby mostly consisted of airplanes with 40-65” wingspans using glow engines for power. This made our field the perfect place to fly for almost everyone in the hobby. It has been a great addition to the city and has attracted over 120 regular members and winter visitors who love the hobby and the facility.
Fast forward to today and our hobby has gone through some major transformations; the average air-planes now have 65” – over 100” wingspans, they use everything from electric to gasoline engines and their landing speed is quite a bit faster. Helicopters and drones are becoming very popular be-cause of their ease of use and general appeal. Because of these reasons, we are finding it necessary to increase the size of our runway and improve our parking, visitor and pilot staging areas. A larger runway and improved facilities will allow us to:
A. Hold regional and national R/C events that will fund the club and bring visitors.
B. Facilitate the large variety of different sizes and types of aircraft.
C. Accommodate disabled club members and visitors that currently have difficulty using our facility.
D. Attract new members of all ages.
Over the past 10 years, we have had a difficult time attracting new members because of the current situation with our runway. We realize that there are many people who are flying at various locations around the city and we would like to offer them a more attractive location to fly their planes safely. This benefits the club financially and also benefits the city by keeping most flyers combined to one regulated, insured and safe location. We would also like to hold a number of events each year and the only way we can accomplish that is if we have a runway that can easily handle the many different types of aircraft that make up these events.
We currently have a limited club budget and some pledged donations that we would like to put to-wards increasing the size of our existing runway and addressing some runoff issues that have been costing the club quite a bit of time and money. While we have enough manpower and funds to do the basic improvements, we would appreciate any help the city could provide with grading or surfacing in order to help make our facility a terrific point of interest for people who are thinking about traveling or moving to Lake Havasu City.
The following is a satellite view of our current flying field setup. The NE/SW runway is approximately 550’ long and runs downhill at a steep grade. This makes it difficult to land all but the smallest air-planes. This runway is also inline with our incoming driveway. For safety reasons, our rules prohibit flying over active roadways. Because of these reasons, this runway is rarely used.
The East/West runway is 425’ x 25’ and also runs downhill at a steep grade. Even after sealing and repairing our asphalt every couple years, the base is falling apart, causing large cracks. This makes our smaller airplanes very difficult to control on the ground. 425’ is long enough to land airplanes from 20 years ago but today’s larger airplanes require more room in order to prevent damage.
The grade on the runway and surround area is set to flow the water into our parking and pit area. This creates washes along the runway and through the parking lot, which must be repaired after every rain. Most of the runoff pools in the center of the parking lot and restricts our parking after heavy rains.
There is a hill on the west end of the runway that restricts our ability to land on the west end of the runway. In order to get full use of our runway area, this hill must be lowered. Fill from this can be used.
Phase 1 of our project involves removing the existing runway and leveling the area shown on the map. We would change the steep grade of the runway and direct the water flow to the northwest in order to keep water out of the parking/pit area. We will most likely need to haul in fill material in order to get the grade up to an acceptable level and control water runoff.
We would also like to level the parking area around the washes in order to stop the water from pooling up. This will create more parking for busy days and larger events. With approval, creating an area for dry camping would be our ultimate goal. A short term camping area would make our field very unique in this area and would definitely be a big draw for out of town pilots. Currently, many of these visitors spend their entire winter in Quartzsite because of their excellent R/C facilities and easy access to camping close to the airfield.
This grading would be done without disturbing any active washes and without causing any environ-mental impact.
Image. Phase 1
Phase 2 would involve creating an 650’ x 50’ runway with a 300’ x 25’ pilot area. The existing asphalt would be ground up and used at base for the new surface. Our ideal surface would be a product called Soiltac® (see attached brochure). Soiltac is an environmentally safe, biodegradable copolymer emulsion that is sprayed on a prepared surface, creating a concrete-like surface. It isn’t prone to cracking and doesn’t need to be sealed. Soiltac has been used on other RC airfields in this area with great success. The main advantage over asphalt is the low cost of upkeep.
The longer, wider runway, in addition to the grading of the field would allow us to safely fly just about any R/C aircraft that is currently covered by our AMA insurance policy. It will also allow us to host regional and national events of size. We currently have 2 R/C product manufacturers located in Lake Havasu City and they have the ability to help draw people to our events from across the country.
We would also extend our giant scale airplane staging area and create more trailer parking. This would also allow us to create an ADA access area to the field for our disabled members and visitors. Currently, we have no such access or the ability to make those facilities and still maintain proper safety standards.
Image. Phase 2
The final phase of the plan would involve moving our helipad to the west end of the runway. This would allow us to expand our helicopter flying area for the ever-growing number of helicopter/drone pilots and safely fly helicopters and drones during our events.
We would like to install artificial turf on the north side of the runway so that gliders and other non-landing geared aircraft will be able to land without damage. This will also provide a soft landing area for airplanes with gear and other malfunctions.
While we currently have a restroom facility, they are not in very good condition and not ADA compliant. We would like to renovate the restrooms and allow them to more easily be used by our disabled members and guests.
Our two storage sheds on site are also in poor condition and need to be torn down and removed. We would like to replace them with something more suitable for long term storage like a modified trucking container. This could also be used as a flight control tower and announcing stand.
Image. Final Phase
Soiltac Product Uses
Every year in November, the Desert Hawks holds it’s annual Seaplane Classic Float Fly. This is a nationally known event that draws pilots and spectators from across the country. In 2013 this 3 day event was held at the Lake Havasu State Park.
The Desert Hawks held a small 3 day event in February called Electrifly 2014. This event attracted over 1000 people from Lake Havasu City and the surrounding areas. Once we expand our parking and runway facilities, we hope to make this a yearly event.
The following is a partial listing of R/C ariplane clubs within 200 miles of Lake Havasu City. Members from these clubs regularly attend events sponsored by the Desert Hawks. With our field renovation, we hope to attract even more people to our city and to our field.
Below is a copy of our club membership flyer. We are always looking for ways to increase our membership. We hope for an increase of about 20% in 2014.