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Shoot paintballs at remote control model airplanes to help veterans


IDAHO FALLS – The Desert Eagles Model Airplane Flying Club will be hosting an open house this weekend, where the public can come to fly remote-controlled model airplanes and shoot paintball guns at them as they fly.

It is the fourth annual open house, which will be held Saturday, July 16, from 9 am to 1 p.m. at the club flying field (see bottom of article for directions). was able to get an early preview of what the public will be able to participate in on Saturday, including being able to shoot paintball guns at the flying model airplanes and learning to fly them above the field.

Proof that reporter, Kaitlyn Hart, was able to hit one of the planes with a paintball gun! | Kaitlyn Hart,

According to some members of the club, only about 5% of people can hit the planes with the paintballs.

The event will also include a raffle, with an incredible grand prize – a ride in a full-size Stearman airplane, owned by James Hoff, who was able to donate a ride to the event.

“I just called him up to ask him if it would be possible, and I figured the worst he could say is no,” said Desert Eagles club officer Tye Tomchack. “But he just said, sure, I’ll give someone a ride!”

The plane that the winner of the second raffle will be able to take a ride in. | Photo courtesy of The Desert Eagles Model Airplane Flying Club.

Other prizes include gift cards to Papa Tom’s Pizza, Fiesta Ole, tickets to the Paramount Theater, and a gift basket donated by the Idaho Brewing Company.

All proceeds from the event will go to benefit the Veterans Mobility Corp, which provides and repairs electric wheelchairs for veterans in need.

“I think the last official number was 337 wheelchairs that we’ve been able to donate and fix up,” said Tomchak.

According to the Veterans Mobility Corp, it costs between $300 and $1000 to refurbish an electric wheelchair. Last year, the Desert Eagles were able to raise $1,500.

This year, they hope to break that record to be able to donate and fix more wheelchairs that give veterans the mobility that they otherwise wouldn’t have.

The club is an open club, meaning that anyone regardless of veteran status, can join the club and partake in the model airplane hobby every day of the year.

“Someone is always out here at the field,” says Tomchak. “On a day like this especially, with no wind, at least one of us is always out here flying planes.”

This year, the club will also be providing demonstrations of unique model planes, in particular, they will be flying two jerry-rigged lawn mowers in the air, and a plane designed to look like a pterodactyl with moving wings and red glowing eyes.

One of the two lawn mowers that will be flying across the sky at the open house on Saturday. | Kaitlyn Hart,

The Desert Eagles mission is to “promote model aircraft flying by creating an environment of inclusion, assistance, education, safety, confidence and family-friendly fun.”

Directions to the open house:

Take exit 113 at Flying J and Love’s Truck Stops on Interstate 15 south of Idaho Falls. Turn west on the overpass, then north onto the New Sweden Highway. Just past Doug Andrus Trucking, turn left at the Desert Eagles sign and follow the gravel lane to the field.

For more information about the event and costs for the different activities at the open house, see the event flyer here.

Photo Gallery

One of the model airplanes, owned and maintained by club member, Jim Dokos. | Kaitlyn Hart,

A member of the club, Jim Dokos, gets ready to take his plane out to the field to prepare for its flight. | Kaitlyn Hart,

Some of the planes have personal touches, like figures of pilot inside of the cockpit. | Kaitlyn Hart,

Another one of the remote controled model airplanes, owned and operated by a member of the Desert Eagles. | Kaitlyn Hart,

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