Model-aircraft club wins fight to use farm airstrip
The Kelowna Ogopogo Radio Controllers Association has won back its right to use a farm that the Lake Country District had claimed could only be used by full-sized planes and not their model versions, the B.C. Court of Appeal has decided. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)
"Our feeling was if you had an unpaved airstrip it must be for airplanes to take off and land on." — John Falconer, Kelowna Ogopogo Radio Controllers Association
A remote-control planes group in Kelowna has won a fight over taking off and landing their model aircraft on a farm — which the Lake Country District had alleged was illegal because only real planes were allowed to use the land.
Kelowna Ogopogo Radio Controllers Association vice-president John Falconer said on Tuesday he spent hundreds of hours preparing for the self-represented legal fight.
A practicing physician, Falconer said the group received consent from the farmer who owns the land and had used it for several years.
A previous judge ruled in favour of the district’s bylaw interpretation that the model flying wasn’t complementary to agriculture.
But a B.C. Court of Appeal ruling on Tuesday overturned that decision.
“The bylaw was saying that it is fully legal and proper for agricultural land to have an unpaved airstrip on it,” Falconer said.
“They (the district) had no objection, for example, to a 10,000-pound, full-sized Twin Otter taking off and landing on the field, but they did object to a 10-pound model Twin Otter … I can’t explain the logic.”
It wasn’t feasible to find another site, he said, since the farm was the only favourable location — with the right winds and flat land — for model planes after the group’s old site at Black Mountain became a water reservoir.