Model airplanes can be just flown around, but how about shooting them down with paintballs?

This Saturday, June 23, in Idaho Falls, the Desert Eagles Models Airplane Flying Club will be having an open house at the Ken Maurer Flying Field, and students will be able to do that very thing.

Steve Henderson, the open house coordinator, said that these are special, one-design airplanes called SPADs, which stands for “Simple Plastic Airplane Design.” They are inexpensive and simple to build. SPADs are made from plastic gutter pipe downspout material and corrugated plastic that require no painting — which makes them quick to build.

Because they are so simple, cheap and rugged, they are the plane of choice for paintball targets. When racing, students fly the planes around the same course with four or five other planes. Crashes are inevitable, so a simple inexpensive plane and engine make it something that most people can afford.

“We fly just about everything in our club: free flight, some control line, a lot of RC,” Henderson said. “Within the RC, remote control, we fly just about everything that qualifies: fixed-wing, sport planes, trainers, advanced aerobatic planes, scale, old timers, gas, glow and electric plus gliders.”

“Electrified gliders are very popular because they have huge performance; they are quiet and there is no gooey mess to clean off the plane after you fly it,” Henderson said. “The traditional glow engines of days past are still common, but they are fading in popularity.”

“Add to that helicopters, and you have a lot of variety to what we do,” Henderson said. “We also fly pylon racers, and you will note that we have two orange pylons out in the flat north of the runway. We fly four to six planes at a time racing around those pylons for 10 laps.”

They are also giving anybody who is interested a chance to fly an RC plane using a “buddy box” system, which allows the trainer to take control if the student is getting into trouble.

“A big part of our club ‘mantra’ is helping others,” Henderson said. “We put on build clinics so kids and adults who always wanted to build a plane can try something simple and see if they want to get into it.”

The club has been around for about 20 years. The field has 40 acres of flat ground with a 600 ft grass runway—a slice of heaven for modelers.