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Model airplane enthusiast hopes to start club in Riverhead

Vince Juliano is almost 91 years old, and he’s been following aviation for many of those years, especially aviation at the former Grumman site in Calverton, now known as Enterprise Park at Calverton.

He’d like to start a model aviation club somewhere, and attract some members. But the big question is where?

“Aviation and its history are just taken for granted and forgotten,” Mr. Juliano said at Thursday’s Riverhead Town Board work session.

Mr. Juliano, who is from Rocky Point, is hoping to hold a national model airplane event in Riverhead about twice a year to bring in visitors and draw more interest to the hobby.

He said he’d like to use space at EPCAL, which the town is trying to sell, but said he’ll take whatever land the town can make available.

How much land does he need?

“How much can I get?” he asked.

In August 2014, the town allowed the Deer Park-based Edgewood Flyers, which is a member of the Long Island Aero Modelers Association, to hold a two-day model airplane show at EPCAL.

That event raised funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.

At the time, town officials were concerned that allowing certain events at EPCAL could upset the state Department of Environmental Conservation, since the town was seeking permits from the DEC at the time, and still hasn’t received all of the approvals needed at EPCAL.

Mr. Juliano said the loss of available fields from which to fly model airplanes is one of the reasons the hobby is in decline. Model airplanes can’t fly over residences or farms, he said. A club must have insurance in place first, and he said the club he proposes would operate without town funds and on whatever revenue it can generate, Mr. Juliano said.

Ms. Jens-Smith asked town parks and recreation superintendent Ray Coyne if model aviation could qualify as “passive recreation.”

“I think I could sell it,” he said.

“I know this is a lot to digest,” Ms. Jens-Smith said. “We need to take a look at what we have that’s available and then see if it’s feasible.”

Mr. Juliano is urging anyone interest in starting a model aviation club to contact him by phone at 631-744-6882 or by email at [email protected].

Photo caption: Model airplanes lined up at EPCAL in 2014. (Credit: file photo)

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