Whether you’re interested in planes or trains, knitting or travel, you’ll find a group of like-minded people on the west side of the Las Vegas Valley.
Las Vegas Soaring Club
The Las Vegas Soaring Club operates a scaled-down landing strip roughly 2 miles west of the 215 Beltway’s Charleston Boulevard exit. There, the carpeted runway is 250 feet long and 35 feet wide with good clearance all around. Members usually congregate to fly their model aircraft from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturdays, barring inclement weather.
“We’ll have a group out there at sunrise, about 5 a.m.,” said Doug Bush, treasurer. “They’ll fly ‘til about noon when it gets to be 105, 110 degrees. So, you can get a good six or eight hours of flying in.”
Members are welcome to fly individually on other days. Some prefer to fly alone as they increase their skill level. The landing strip is accessed through a locked gate that requires a code. The code comes with membership, which costs $25 annually. The club has about 75 members.
“It’s fun; it’s older men playing with toys,” said Dave High, past president. “It’s a ‘he who dies with the most toys wins’ kind of thing.”
Many members fly model airplanes (or helicopters) powered by engines. Because the landing strip is close to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and species-sensitive government land, the club is not allowed to operate gas- or turbine-powered aircraft of any type. It’s electric only for this crew. The club lays claim as the only winch launch club in Las Vegas, a no-effort way to launch non-powered soaring aircraft.
Joining the club means passing scrutiny. Its landing strip is certified by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, and all members are required to have a current AMA card in their possession when at the field. Club membership is offered only through an approval process.
Bruce Kaplan is the group’s president. Why does he think humans are fascinated by flight?
“Because it’s so unbelievable to see a graceful bird glide through endless space,” he said.
For more information, visit lvsoaringclub.org or call 702-683-7733.
Las Vegas Railroad Society
If trains are your thing, you might think about joining the Las Vegas Railroad Society. It is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the steam engine railway and educating people on what it meant for a growing America.
Trudy Platzer is the CEO and founding chairwoman for the Las Vegas Railroad Society Museum. Plans are for the group to build a complex on a 200-acre parcel set aside by the city of Las Vegas in December, adjacent to Bruce Trent Park, 8851 Vegas Drive.
Key to the programming is an educational component for school field trips. Phase One of its eight-phase plan includes an educational building development, roundhouse and initial section of railroad tracks with a Victorian botanical garden.
A groundbreaking is not planned in the near future, but the 36 or so members keep enthusiasm in high gear with teas and luncheons at local casinos or restaurants, where they appear in Victorian-era garb, including women in long dresses with bustles, parasols and garden hats.
“Being in costume, what better way to raise awareness (to our cause)?”, Platzer said. “If we were dressed normally, no one would care who we are. No one would say, ‘Who are you? What’s this about?’ We always say, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ “
A few years ago, the Tropicana Express Hotel & Casino in Laughlin donated two locomotives and three coaches that are about 20 years old. One locomotive is a replica of trains used in the late 1800s with the big puffer-type smokestack.
The society recently received three moving truckloads of donated memorabilia. This year marks the beginning of its capital funds campaign.
“Most clubs are just about having fun,” Platzer said. “This one is about supporting children’s education in Las Vegas and looking beautiful while doing it.”
For more information, visit lasvegasrailroadsociety.org or call 702-656-9705.
Maybe a hands-on club is more your thing. The Yarnstormers, a knitting and crocheting group, have a standing meeting at 11:30 a.m. the third Wednesday of each month at the West Flamingo Senior Center, 6255 W. Flamingo Road.
Diane Olson-Baskin, an artist, is the program supervisor at the center. She is included in the upcoming book, “Strange Material: Storytelling through Textiles” by Leanne Prain.
The group has a core membership of about 20 and has been around about three years. Its first project was “yarn bombing” (wrapping) the railing at the center so people wouldn’t burn their hands on the hot metal. Every year, they replace it with a new covering.
“It only lasts about a year, and the colors fade, and it starts to break, so this is its third incarnation,” Olson-Baskin said.
Perhaps the most visible yarnstorming to date has been the pedestrian bridge over Maryland Parkway that connects Sunrise Hospital. It also features flowers made of yarn. The purpose was to brighten it up and make it pretty. Member Joanne Dahl recalled spending about six hours every Saturday for four weeks in 2012 working on the project.
“I probably made about a third of them,” she said of the crocheted and knitted rosettes that adorn the bridge. “I believed in that project. … It was a lot of fun.”
In between yarnstorming events, the group makes blankets and other items for senior citizens and cancer patients and layettes for newborns. All items are given away to those in need. The group has a goal of making 200 blankets to donate by Thanksgiving. So far, it’s completed 75. Donations of yarn are always needed.
RuthAnn Moore of Summerlin was new to the group and wanted to try crocheting.
“I joined because it looked like fun,” she said. “There’s a wide range of personalities and people from different countries. I’m learning a lot.”
The group plans to participate in an upcoming yearlong yarnstorming program where residents will try to locate a particular tree adorned with yarn in each park, photograph themselves with the tree and post it to social media.
“It’s still in the planning stages,” said Olson-Baskin, “but we want to connect people to their local parks, and we’re using yarn to do it.”
Members must be at least 50 to join. For more information, call 702-455-7742.
Las Vegas Singles Travel and Social Club
Want to get out of town? The Las Vegas Singles Travel and Social Club is a group of mature singles in the valley who are interested in local, national and international travel.
Chuck Evans has been a member almost since it was established in 1994. He takes about three trips a year and is gearing up for a cruise to Alaska. Like many of the club’s other 45 members, he searches the Internet for packages and deals. He will be traveling with a fellow club member for his cruise, so he saved roughly half of the single supplement price.
Buddying up for trips is a regular club occurrence.
“Somebody will say, ‘I want to go to India,’ or Ireland or whatever, and somebody else will say, ‘I’ve always wanted to go there,’ and if they’re compatible, they end up going together,” Evans said.
He told of a member who is spending the summer in Europe. Another member wanted to go but could spend only a month there, so she flew over, joined the first woman, and the two of them traveled for four weeks before the second one returned home.
The group shares travel tips on packing, local customs and navigating.
Gale Heine is a longtime member and has taken a few trips with other club members, such as cruises to Mexico.
“I’ve made a lot of good friends with this group,” Heine said.
She plans to step up her travel as soon as she retires later this year. Her goal is to visit Tuscany, Italy. She said she hopes to find others in the club to join her.
“If you’re traveling abroad, I do think it’s safer if you go as a group such as with the travel club,” she said. “Even in the United States, there are areas of the country you feel safer if you have a travel companion … and it makes it cheaper if you share expenses.”
The group’s next meeting is set for 7 p.m. July 22 at the Tap House, 5589 W. Charleston Blvd. It meets the fourth Tuesday of the month. There is a small fee for members and guests to cover refreshments and the cost of the meeting room.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-324-3928.
Contact Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan at email@example.com or 702-387-2949.