Pilot story

and photos by Dick Keusink

Those far-sounding buzz-like hums floating over the softball fields near the east edge of Azalea Park in Brookings aren't from a bunch of bees on the loose.

The sound comes from the hands of Daniel Dezort, piloting his radio-controlled helicopter about 500 feet above center field.

Dezort, a 58-year-old Brookings resident, is a licensed airplane pilot but declares he would rather guide his kit-built Raven 30 'copter to a safe landing on the grass-grown field today than take a chance on possibly fogbound Brookings airport.

Dezort and his wife, Judith, recently celebrated their first anniversary in their new home overlooking Brookings.

andquot;She enjoys the piano and gardening,andquot; he says, andquot;I play around with this model-flying thing and I love it.andquot;

He retired as a law enforcement investigator for the State of California after working in the San Francisco area for years, and took up the model airplane mode of air travel as a hobby after stumbling over the idea on the computer keyboard.

andquot;I learned how to do it on the computer,andquot; he continued. andquot;Plans and programs on how to build and fly a radio-controlled helicopter were outlined on a simulator and I thought I'd like to try it out.andquot;

Dezort admits the lessons didn't come easy. It took him a good 18 months of practice, practice and more practice until he thought he was ready to build his first kit model.

He started to work one evening in his small shop, building a Hawk IV Replica using an andquot;Almost Ready to Flyandquot; (ARF) kit. He finished working on his new Hawk IV project in what he thought was the record time of two weeks. Then the neophyte model helicopter pilot quietly launched his pet one afternoon in an empty field.

It crashed.

Scraping up what parts he could salvage from the wreckage, the Brookings man went back to the drawing board, utilizing a Great Planes Real Flight G2 Simulator. He bought some new parts and, more carefully, crafted a new Hawk IV ship with a 30 cubic-inch engine to power the Hawk with its four-foot wing span.

The newly-rebuilt 'copter, which weighs about five pounds, still has a special place in his helicopter-model collection.

His next upgraded model helicopter went on his workshop bench after Dezort felt he had mastered the methods of mending broken wings, rewiring sections of the radio-control systems and mixing the highly-explosive fuel. Most of the less-costly models are fashioned from plastic parts, but Dezort moved up the building scale to construct more ornate and even more expensive models from carbon fiber parts.

Carbon fiber, he explains, is a lighter and stronger material, sturdier than the original plastic substance used in earlier designs.

The Brookings man's next project was to build a Raven 30 kit, a ship with a better control system, improved tail parts and modified rotor blades. He also altered the original framework by adding the carbon fiber parts to make it lighter and stronger.

He also mastered the technique of compounding the tricky fuel mixture which consists of a methanol base plus a 30 percent shot of a chemical called nitromethane.

andquot;The stuff,andquot; Dezort complains, andquot;is quite explosive and I have to watch my step.andquot;

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