From Model Aircraft Enthusiast to Professional Pilot – Nurturing Dreams and Soaring High

By RC Enthusiast - Bill Hoenstine

How did you first become interested in the RC hobby?

When I was 11 years old, I developed a keen interest in model airplanes, and my parents were very supportive of my hobby. I was fascinated by understanding how and why airplanes fly. Later, under the guidance of local mentors, I learned everything about airplanes. Inspired by my early fascination with model airplanes and fueled by my passion for aviation, this journey eventually led me to become a professional pilot and FAA aviation safety inspector with over 40 years of experience.

What was your very first RC product? And how did you feel at the time?

My journey into RC modeling began with plastic models, followed by the exploration of balsa wood models. My first RC model, a high-wing glow-fuel-powered Carl Goldberg 1/2A Cessna Skylane, featured a single-channel push-button transmitter and tube-type receiver. Despite lacking modern electric servos, the model utilized rubber band-powered 'escapements' as a crude yet effective mechanical flight control method. With no throttle or elevator control, mastering flight with only rudder proved challenging, but successfully learned how to fly RC models using this unique aircraft.

Who played a significant role as a mentor in your RC hobby journey?

Starting with plastic models at the age of 11, encouraged by my parents, I delved into model aircraft with enthusiasm. The transition to balsa wood models, guided by my mentor Roy Long, marked a pivotal moment. The camaraderie established during my early years in the hobby steered me away from negative influences and continues to resonate in today's world.

How did your passion for aviation model influence your career choice?

The passion for model aviation played a pivotal role in shaping my career choices. Starting with plastic models at the age of 11 and progressing to balsa wood models, I became deeply immersed in the world of airplanes. Roy Long, my mentor, fueled my interest and provided invaluable guidance. This early exposure to aerodynamics and model flying kindled my desire to become a pilot.

As I delved into the RC hobby, flying high-wing glow-fuel powered models, my fascination with aviation grew. The admiration for commercial airline pilots and a dream to join their ranks took root. Encouraged by my parents, I embarked on full-scale airplane flying lessons at the age of 15, eventually earning various pilot licenses.

The enthusiasm for model aviation not only offered a fulfilling and enjoyable hobby but also assisted in shaping my life trajectory, ensuring success in the field of aviation.

What does the hobby mean to you?

This hobby holds immense significance for me, serving as a lifelong wellspring of passion and inspiration. It goes beyond merely piloting model airplanes, encompassing the joy of constructing aircraft and the enriching experiences at RC club venues. It stands as the cornerstone of my over 40-year career as a professional pilot and FAA Aviation Safety Inspector. Encouraging young enthusiasts to pursue their RC dreams, I believe this hobby has the potential to yield a rewarding and challenging career in aviation.