News: About the Trabuco Flyers | boys, club, plane, joplin, planes - OCRegister.comFrom todays OC Register. Click the link to see the pics.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Boys from the Joplin Youth Center, an alternative to juvenile detention, learn how to fly radio-controlled planes.
By MARK EADES
The Orange County Register
When George Dobilas saw an article last month in the Orange County Register about the Joplin Youth Center, he thought the members of his club, the Trabuco Flyers, could offer some help to the boys.
Dobilas said that in the past, many of the club's members, whose hobby is flying radio-controlled model airplanes and helicopters, spend time working with troubled boys and girls and saw this as an opportunity to reach out to their neighbors in the canyon.
"We had a boy come in here a few years ago who was having some problems," Dobilas said. "He learned to fly our model planes and then went on to become a pilot."
Dobilas talked with the board of directors of the club and convinced its members to take on the challenge. Then he contacted Chris Lillja, a transitional officer with OC Probation, which runs Joplin.
"These are the kinds of programs that, if done on a regular basis, show the kids that there are other things to do out there," Lillja said.
Many of the boys in the Joplin Youth Center are there for being involved in gang-related activities. According to officials, judges will send the boys to Joplin rather than to a juvenile detention center, giving them a chance to see alternative lifestyles to being in a gang and to learn trades before their sentences are completed.
While many of the boys are involved in community outreach and work projects at Joplin, Lillja saw this as an opportunity to show the boys that there are other things to do for fun, rather than just hanging out as members of a gang.
"Hopefully, it will inspire a couple of them to want to become pilots or take this up as a hobby," he said.
While at the Flyers' field, 25 boys got the chance to learn how to fly model planes on a simulator program the club has set up in its headquarters building. From there, the boys were shown how the planes work, from its engines to the radio controls.
Finally, each boy got at least one opportunity to fly a radio-controlled trainer plane. Trainer planes have a double controller. A skilled flyer on the main control dealt with getting the plane off the ground. Once the planes were airborne, they turned control over to the boys, ready to step in if there were problems.
"It's pretty hard," said Herriberto, one of the boys, who could only be identified by his first name under OC Probation rules. "You get confused about what lever does what."
"You got it, you got it," said club member Mike Domokos, as one of the boys flew a plane through some barrel rolls. Then when the plane flipped over and dove for the ground, Domokos took control back and landed the plane safely. "They want to fly these things as hard as they can. You know they're having fun when they keep asking for the controls."
"I like the acrobatic tricks," said Ricardo, one of the boys. "I want to learn more."
Most of the boys got a chance to fly a plane two or three times.
"It's a joy to have these kids here," said Ray Charpentier, a member of the club. "They seem to be very interested in it."
Club officials hope to make this a regular event with the Joplin Youth Center.
"We plan to try and do this every couple of months," said Eric Nelson, the club president. "We need to get more of our members out to volunteer and come out and help."
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org or 949-454-7352