OKLAHOMA CITY — He unpacks his gear one Saturday a month in the biggest, emptiest room he can find.
“You glue the parts to the paper. together. You cut it out. You fly the airplane,” says Tom Solinski.
For the past few years, that room has been the Exchange Avenue Baptist Church gymnasium where Tom and a few friends play with the same toys they loved as kids.
“There was always some sort of model airplane in my house,” Solinski said.
Some church goers might call it a miracle, but to Solinski, a retired aerospace engineer, balsa wood, tissue paper, and rubber bands make for serious science.
A few hundred turns, the right wing angle, and his simple creations can stay in the air for a few minutes.
The lighter versions some members of the Okie Flyers put together can stay up much longer.
“There is a competition level of making these fly up to one hour, strictly on a stretched rubber band,” Solinski explains.
On a typical Saturday, taking turns with the other flyers, Solinski might get in a half-dozen flights, all carefully calibrated and calculated.
“There’s always that anticipation that something will go seriously wrong or smack a wall, or smack a ceiling,” he said.
The miracle of flight might be science but it still feels like a miracle at this church or any big building with a high ceiling.
“You set it free and it flies,” he says. “So that’s kind of a big emotional feedback to do that.”
These are the simplest of machines, but to their makers, each is unique and, as they soar heavenward, it’s not difficult to imagine a cloud of witnesses cheering them on.
“Yeah,” smiles Tom. “The Wright Brothers are still looking at me.”
The Okie Fliers schedule an indoor day of flying the second Saturday of every month from September to May.
The sessions are open to the public
For more information go to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/557117918051282/