There’s a literal buzz in the air on the corner of Highland Knolls Drive and Vineland Road, across from Dr. Douglas K. Fletcher Elementary School. In the distance, two small objects can be seen in the sky, ascending, descending, rocketing in straight lines, circling, looping and hovering — the hum of their propellers breaking the silence of what is otherwise a peaceful morning.

For Jonathan Perrette and Scott Reese, it’s just another day on the joysticks of their remote-control airplanes.

“It’s relaxing,” Perrette, 34, said, who tries to fly at least once a week. “I come out here and not worry about my job, bills, whatever you have in your life. You can do whatever you want, fly in any direction.”

Perrette has been flying RC planes for 16 years, a natural evolution from driving RC cars when he was 12 years old. He ultimately got Reese into planes.

“I like (flying planes) because I used to race RC cars and every time we race, it’s like $30–$40,” Reese, 32, said. “Here, we charge the batteries, we’re not spending anything. Once you buy the plane, it’s just free.”

The entry level and cost of maintenance for RC planes is considerably lower than some of its other remote-control counterparts. Reese, who’s about two months into flying planes, says he’s crashed his plane three times, snapping it in half once, and it only cost him $35 in parts.

But like most hobbies, it can get real pricey real fast.

“Some people fly actual turbine-powered jets that use kerosene fuel and they’re $10,000–$15,000,” Perrette said. “These are a lot cheaper.”

The planes Perrette and Reese use are made with expanded polyolefin foam, which can be glued back together if it breaks, and require very little maintenance. They are powered by electric motors and controlled by controllers that have a long range.

A complete setup with the plane, radio, battery and charger can run about $350. Batteries typically last about five minutes but charge in 20 minutes. Perrette’s setup utilizes three batteries in a constant rotation, resulting in very little downtime.

Perrette and Reese do most of their shopping locally at Doug’s Hobbies in downtown Bakersfield and recommend flying RC planes for all ages.

“Unless you crash significantly, the cost is all initial and it really doesn’t cost you anything to fly after that,” he said. 

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