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Butler Air Field
Model Airplane Flying

By Ben Crookshanks, Contributing Writer

Flying model airplanes is an outdoor activity that has been growing in popularity over the past few years. One of the best flying fields in Southern West Virginia is Butler Field just north of Summersville. Butler Field, home of Wally's Squadron RC Flyers, has an 1,800-foot runway. Many years ago, the site had been the Nicholas County Airport. The airport closed in 1963 and became part of Charlie Butler's farm. At one time it was the proposed site for a new Kmart. That fell through when it was discovered the property was on a flood plain and would require several feet of fill before construction could begin.

Charlie had flown full-scale airplanes in his younger days. Although he did not fly model airplanes, he enjoyed watching. About 10 years ago, Charlie and the Squadron entered into a handshake lease agreement. The pilots could use the field free of charge if they kept it mowed and took out liability insurance.

Members of the Squadron fenced the runway off from the rest of the pasture. Charles' cows feed right up to the fence. Over the years, they have become oblivious to the sight and sound of the model planes.

If you are visiting Southern West Virginia and are into flying model airplanes, would like to learn to fly or would just like to watch, then stop by Butler Field. Most weekends and many afternoons there will be someone out flying. To be on the safe side, call and make sure. The numbers are (304) 872-4957 or (304) 574-1584.

Wally's Squadron, named in honor of Wally Henderson who taught several of the original members to fly, has never been a club per se. There is not charter, no dues, no by-laws and no president. It's just a bunch of guys who like to fly.
They hold three scheduled events each year, the largest being a fly-in on the third full weekend in August. This fly-in started in 1991 as a picnic for the members and their families. Today, it is the largest fly-in in the state. Well over 100 pilots from seven states, as far away as South Carolina and New York, gather for the two-day event. There is no entry or flying fee of any sort. Money for expenses is raised by selling chances on prizes donated by local businesses. The grand prize a few years ago was NASCAR tickets. The local Boy Scout troop provide free hot dogs and soft drinks at the event. There is a one-gallon mayonnaise jar for those who would like to make a donation.