Off Duty: Sam Harris

Sam Harris, president and member of RCHO (Remote Control Helicopters Only), flies one of his helicopters at the club's flying field in Apex.

Sam Harris, president and member of RCHO (Remote Control Helicopters Only), flies one of his helicopters at the club’s flying field in Apex.

 

photograph by Travis Long

“Imagine a lawn mower flying upside down. Size-wise, that’s what we’re talking about.” – Sam Harris, marketing director of cyber security at Teradata and president, RC Helis Only radio-controlled helicopter flight club

Once or twice a month, Sam Harris, the marketing director of Teradata, heads out to a huge field in Knightdale to spend a few hours flying his three radio-controlled helicopters. Each flight lasts about five minutes. “There’s so much happening that it feels longer,” Harris says. “A lot of mental effort goes into that five or six minutes.” Pilots use both hands to control their machine via radio, and then the helicopter has to cool off and either be recharged (some are battery-operated) or refueled (others are powered by nitrogen). “At first glance it looks like a big toy, but if you take a second look … all the flight characteristics are the same as a full-size aircraft.” The club’s membership hovers around 20, and pilots use the field almost every day of the week. Harris also flies with a few other clubs and hobbyists around town. A few times a year, he tries to make it out to one of his favorite places to fly: Dorothea Dix Park. “You have this view of a lush green treeline and the skyline of the city, with rockets and kites and quads and helicopters all in the air. It’s a half-day event, so it’s kind of like going to play golf.”

RC Helis Only welcomes spectators or interested new members. Learn more at rchelisonly.com