Palomar Radio Control Flyers Club losing property to fly model planes
Special to the Village News
Radio control model airplanes, helicopters and drones have used Johnson Field, located near Hwy. 76 and I-15 for more than 20 years. However, the property will soon be developed with homes and shopping centers and the Palomar Radio Control Flyers Club must move by July or August.
The club is looking for property, 25 acres or more, that it can use with the same arrangement – free – it's had with a Sacramento-based developer. However, the property owner has received something in return, said Steve Gebler, past president and one of two club members searching for a site.
"Johnson Field was basically an illegal dump site with a lot of transients before we moved there," he explained. "Now someone is there seven days a week, providing constant surveillance of the land. We're fully insured, follow FAA rules, and pay for everything needed for a pilot's paradise."
Gebler and Joe Villarreal, club president, say they've been searching for 4-5 years for a new site, knowing the current field would eventually be developed.
"Pappas Investments in Sacramento has been wonderful," Gebler said. "They are happy to have us because we are good citizens in the community. Our hope is for a similar arrangement."
Gebler said they are looking for land that is relatively flat, not near housing or other structures, and has space for a runway that is in excess of 500 feet.
The club has about 280 members now and last year had 300, said Villarreal, a Valley Center resident. Members are from all over North County, and as far away as Riverside and Orange counties.
Johnson Field is located east of I-15 and north of Hwy 76 off Pankey Road and features an asphalt runway. The property is 80-plus acres.
"Our well-funded club provides full insurance for the landowner and our club membership and our guests," Gebler said.
"It's a wonderful place for kids of all ages," said Patric Prancia, club secretary.
Members range in age from 7 to 97, said Gebler. "Many are retired, but we also have four generations represented and members from all walks of life."
There are often 20-40 people at the field, with weekends the most crowded.
Visitors are welcome and volunteers give free flight training, even providing the equipment to use. Club members also work with the local STEM Academy School, Cub Scouts, and the JROTC at Fallbrook High School.
Palomar Radio Control Flyers was founded in 1955.
Visit palomarrcﬂyers.com for more information or if you know of available property, call Gebler at 760-519-8163.