Tye Tomchak has been interested in aviation since he was a kid.
"I think airplanes are always interesting," he said. "I don't care who you are, an airplane flies over, you go look up to see what it is."
Taylor Wehausen is newer to the hobby. Now 15, he told his sixth-grade class that he wanted to be a pilot when he's older. Two years ago, he started to look into building and flying model airplanes.
"I was browsing YouTube one day, and I saw (videos of) it," he said.
The Desert Eagles Model Airplane Flying Club has been around since the late 1990s, with club members meeting to fly their gliders and gas- and electric-powered model planes in a field off of New Sweden Road that the group leases from Bonneville County. While the public is always welcome to watch when they're out there flying, on Saturday the club is holding an open house to expose even more people to the hobby they love.
Saturday's open house starts at 10 a.m. and goes to about 2 p.m.
"Basically we open the doors to the public, let them see what we do," said Stu Eddins, the club's vice president.
There will be a raffle and refreshments, and visitors will be able to fly some of the model planes using a "buddy box," or a controller that is also controlled by one of the club members who knows how to fly one.
"(It's) mainly a good time flying," Eddins said. "Nothing real complicated. Just having a good time out here, show people what we do."
The club, which has about 40 adult members and six junior ones like Wehausen, meets at the field the first Monday of every month, from June through September and at the Aero Mark building at Idaho Falls Regional Airport the rest of the year.
The cheapest indoor flyer model planes are around $90, Tomchak said. Ones you can fly outside cost more, although the cost goes down as you buy more planes, since once you have a transmitter it can be programmed to fly multiple planes. Tomchak said you can get a decent outdoor plane for between $500 and $700.
"It's not that expensive — not in the hobby world," he said. "It's not like buying a razor or a four-wheeler or a boat."
The group also is involved in efforts to promote model aviation, including "Up, Up and Away," a clinic where children build model airplanes, run in conjunction with Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation. It will be held this year on July 25 and Aug. 21. As well as building and flying their own model planes, the children get a tour of the airport. The clinic costs $27, including the cost of materials and transportation from the Tautphaus Park Multi-Use Shelter, where the kids fly their planes, to the airport and back.
"They just have a hoot," Eddins said.
Wehausen started off building a small model plane, learned how to fly it and then moved on to larger ones. He has also gone on flights with the Civil Air Patrol. He described going up on different flights where the pilot would show what it feels like when a plane stalls, or fly to make the passengers feel almost weightless or, conversely, to increase the gravitational force.
"If gravity got heavier, it's exactly what it feels like," Wehausen said of the latter, demonstrating with his arms how the G-force pushed down on him.
Wehausen's mother, Bonnie Wehausen, is a science teacher at Idaho Falls High School. Building a rubber band-powered airplane is one of the projects students can choose from at the school's STEM fair. Her first time teaching students to prepare for the fair was two years ago, and she noticed then that many students had trouble with the rubber band airplanes. She told Taylor, and two years later when it was his turn to go to the STEM fair, his rubber band airplane got first place.
Bonnie Wehausen said the older men in the club have been very willing to teach her son how to fly the planes.
"These guys have been amazing for being patient and helping him learn," she said.
"He's also been a good student," Eddins replied.