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A Look Back at People and Events in the News : Model Copters Find a Place to Buzz Off

September 14, 1986

Mornings are much quieter for Rita Haines since the Rolling Hills Estates City Council banned radio-controlled model aircraft flights in the city last spring.

Members of a South Bay model helicopter club used to fly their mini-choppers on weekend mornings at Highridge Park, next to Haines' home. "We're very pleased up here and we're glad we have our ordinances, because (the noise) was really just like a lawn mower," Haines said.

But while the skies are closed to the tiny craft in Rolling Hills Estates, the copters have been given a clear runway at Point Vicente Park in neighboring Rancho Palos Verdes. Mary Thomas, Rancho Palos Verdes' leisure services director, said the Southern California Organization of Radio Controlled Helicopters was issued a general permit last Monday to fly at an old helicopter pad that was used by real whirlybirds when the property was a Nike missile site.

Members have agreed to help level the area surrounding the pad and divide it into areas for model pilots of differing skills. Each pilot must also apply for a $10 yearly permit and wear it as part of his club membership badge, Thomas said.

The model helicopter pilots hope they will be flying in Rolling Hills Estates again. City Atty. Richard Terzian confirmed that Phil Davis, the group's attorney, contacted him this week about modifying the city ordinance to allow flight on private property without permit and on public property by permit.

Terzian asked that the request be sent by letter and promised that the issue will be put on the council agenda. Councilwoman Nell Mirels said she thought the council would "look favorably" on amending the ordinance to allow flights on private property.

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