Vickie Belisle has more airplanes than some small nations. She has 46 of them and all are in her ranch style home east of Tucumcari.
There are planes, some with wingspans of more than nine feet across, hanging from the ceiling, some behind doors some in special racks, some on special tables, some under construction in corners of yet other rooms.
“They do take up a lot of space,” said Belisle about her “hobby”.
Belisle admits that for her radio controlled air craft has become something of an obsession that has taken over not only her home, but also much of her life.
“Well,” said Belisle, “I just love it. I love everything about it. I just think it’s just about the greatest fun a person can have.”
When the Tucumcari woman is not flying her large radio controlled aircraft at Coronado Air Park on the west end of Tucumcari in all types of weather, she can be found at home building or fine tuning planes she has built. Often, when she is not building, painting or adjusting one of her planes, she can be found traveling to air shows where she puts on demonstrations of her and her planes’ flying abilities.
“A lot of people don’t realize just how tricky flying these can be,” said Belisle.
She said that until recently, quite a number of people in the Tucumcari area used to join her at the local radio controlled air park and be in the local radio controlled airplane organization, but that has fallen off lately.
“We used to have a lot more people around here interested in the sport,” said Belisle about how she has become virtually the sole practitioner of the flying of radio controlled aircraft in Tucumcari.
Belisle said most of the area people interested in radio controlled airplanes have moved away although she grudgingly admits a few are still around.
“They seem to have lost interest,” said Belisle. “I don’t know why.”
For Belisle, who has been known to stand out in freezing cold to fly her planes, she has little concept as to why anyone would lose interest in any aspect of the planes. The Tucumcari resident said she got into the building of the planes as physical therapy after a automobile crash that incapacitated her and left her confined to a wheelchair with marginal use of her hands. Her doctor recommended model planes as a possibility to regain dexterity with her hands. She began building a plane and has continued to this day substituting more complicated aircraft at each successive effort.
“What can I say,” said Belisle. “I was hooked.”
It was, however, not just she that was hooked. She managed to draw in her son into the web of building radio controlled aircraft as she got deeper and deeper into the craft. Belisle has even gained some national recognition in regards to her “hobby.” She was the first person in the United States to build a Boeing 747 from scratch and fly it.
In fact, television news programs have even done features on the Tucumcari woman and her 1/10th scale 747 at different air shows.
“It’s been very exciting,” said Belisle.
Recently Belisle has been contacted by the Boeing company which is based just outside Seattle and was asked if she would be interested in flying her radio controlled 747 for the employees of the company that made the original full-sized one at a special get-together in Seattle.
“Can you imagine it?” said Belisle. “They want me to fly my 747 up there for them. Won’t that be great? Well, unless I crash. Jeez, I don’t want to do that. Oh, that would be terrible.”
The radio controlled aircraft enthusiast said she has at least one more dream yet to be realized in regard to her radio controlled airplanes. She wants to go a bit bigger yet than even her large 747.
“The next one I build,” said Belisle. “I want it to be big enough to carry me.”