When James Hawkins was a teenager, he worked as a camp counselor during the summer months at Mander Playground on 33rd and Diamond streets. While on the clock, he would watch a group of older men fly electric airplanes a few hundred yards away. He was fascinated by them.
Several years later, Hawkins decided he was going to buy an electric airplane for himself.
“One day I was sitting at home and was like, ‘Let’s go find something to do,”’ Hawkins said. “Then I figured out I was going to go out and buy a plane.”
“So he did,” said James Walton, a longtime friend of Hawkins. “The next week after I saw it fly, I went out and bought one, too.”
Since they bought their planes back in July, Hawkins and Walton turned their new hobby into a weekly ritual.
“It’s usually weather permitting,” Walton said. “Usually two times a week though.”
The two men are not afraid to admit that they are still novices but that does not hold them back from flying with the veterans.
“We started to learn a lot from the regular guys,” Hawkins said. “If the weather is nice, there will be sometimes 30 guys out here with their chairs and beverages.”