The Harvey County Commission gave its blessing for the operation of a new class of remote control aircraft at the remote control vehicle facility located in East Park on Tuesday.
And these are not your kid’s balsa and paper airplanes.
The commission approved a recommendation by the Harvey County Park Board to allow for gas-powered jets.
“Part of increasing what we can do at the field, just like we got the quad copters and drones out there, we would like to get these aircraft there,” said Taylor Boone, a remote control club member and electric jet pilot. “It is not something that a lot of people are into right now. It is a type of aircraft that there is nowhere else to fly right now.”
The aircraft now approved are fueled by Jet A, propane or diesel fuel and can reach speeds of 200 miles per hour.
Costing as much as $10,000, the aircraft are insured and regulated by the Academy of Model Aeronautics.
“These pilots are certified, and they don’t mess around with it,” said Kass Miller, director of Harvey County Parks.
The certification process includes rigid building codes for aircraft, pilot skill testing, ground training and flight training with an experienced pilot.
“They have to prove their flight capabilities to already certified pilots before they can get authorization to fly these,” said Joe Owen, president of the Harvey County Radio Control Club.
The club has begun taking fire safety precautions — like purchasing a large tank for fire suppression — as it prepares for the possibility of flights by gas-powered turbines.
When completed, the park will consist of two grass runways (a north-south and an east-west), a scale crawler course, a dedicated rock crawler course, a dirt race track with flat oval, stadium, rock racing and a designated drone racing course. Boating opportunities are available at the lake across the road.
In other business, the commission:
• Asked the extension office to rework its budget proposal. The proposed budget, which required an answer to K-State this week, contained a 2% increase, while the commission is requesting a flat budget from all departments. The county will review the extension budget again as it prepares budgets this summer.
• Approved an amendment to a tower co-location agreement with KanOkla Communications, LLC. The agreement will link towers owned by the county and allow the company to expand rural internet access. KanOkla will pay the county for the placing of equipment on the communications towers.
• Reviewed a lease agreement for communications equipment. No final action was taken.
• Reviewed a possible audit of telecommunications to look for ways to save money on phone systems and services.