I moved into this nice apartment in the boondocks and that’s because it is close to Seletar Airport where I work in Singapore. I had viewed the apartment twice in the evening before signing on the dotted line and I liked the fact that the apartment blocks were surrounded by wide open spaces. Mine overlooks a grassy field. The living room, study and my bedroom all looked out into the grassy field with a hillock in the background harboring plenty of trees.
(click on each photo to enlarge it)
Many surprises awaited me when I woke up on the morning of the first night spent at the unit that also happened to be a Saturday. Looking out the window to enjoy the view, I saw some people flying radio controlled Airplanes in the field area. That got me up in a heart beat and I ventured out to see what was going on. As the morning slowly matured, more people came in with their Airplanes to fly them. Visiting each Airplane and talking to the owners of these models, I realized that Singapore has a vibrant aero model flying scene. This is not the only place they flew apparently. I came to know that various groups throughout the island flew their airplanes every weekend and on public holidays.
In my youth, I had done a fair bit of aeromodelling and had taken part in competitions in India. Watching these people fly their Airplanes brought back a flood of memories. Most of the people who flew these models here were non pilots in real life and they were doing this for the love of flying and some of these chaps had wanted to fly for a living as well, and sadly that had not happen for various reasons. I did find a real life aviator in the group and it was easy to make friends with this motley group of weekend flyers. Birds of the same feather and all that, you know.
The models they bring here are varied, some made of Balsa wood and some of rigid foam. They run on batteries, driving an electric motor. Rather quiet compared to the gas/nitrox powered ones. There are vintage scale models as well as ducted fan jet Airplanes.
Weeks have gone by, hanging out with the flyers at every plausible opportunity that I had, and we have now become a bunch of fast friends, eating out together, having beer and snacks at my place and so on. This group has slowly increased in size, although none of them have organized this into a club of any sort, it certainly feels like one.
Recently there was an event where our local MP came to inaugurate a bridge across the TPE (Tampines Expressway) and her entourage had encouraged our group of flyers to put up a flying display during the event. When everything was set, it rained in buckets like it does here in the tropics most of the time, and the show was almost scrubbed. A brief stoppage of rain encouraged some of the volunteers to launch their flights and it did not turn out to be a complete washout after all.
For aviation buffs, this part of town is really happening. But I have heard that the western end of Singapore, there is a group that flies really sophisticated radio controlled Aircraft. I’d surely pay them a visit soon. For those who think Singaporeans don’t have anything to do other than shopping and eating, think again. There are options available,for those who want to do something different and I guess this applies to any other country.
(Above-Sopwith Triplane-World War I model and flies great, miniature pilot and all).
There are one or two “other” issues that are a bit negative in nature, not about Singapore itself or about Singaporeans, but about the expat community here. I’ll leave that to another day when some frustration may force me to bang out an article about their behavior and their perceived sense of superiority and how this has become a debate even in Parliament and how Indian expats have been the biggest culprits in this. However, the next Singapore snapshot is about the countryside in Singapore-yes you heard me right! Like I said in my first post, this isn’t a country made only of shiny steel and glass buildings.
(Above- My friend Daniel, practically lives on the field and lives to fly!)
(Above-Ducted Fan Jet Mirage 2000-this one steals the show when it tears through the sky!)