At 153 East Falmouth Highway is an unusual brick building, with a stucco facade on top. It is distinct because it does not conform to the typical Cape Cod architecture found in this section of the state.
Adding to the oddity of the building is a small metal sign on top of a larger handcarved wooden one that features a car, a plane and a boat, painted as if out of a 1970s cartoon, on top of which reads the name of the store: RC Hobbies. On the metal sign are the hours of operation—Tuesday and Thursday, 6 to 9 PM, and Saturday, from 10 AM to 4 PM.
Even with those limited hours that small window of time has been enough to satisfy the most hard core remote-controlled airplane enthusiasts, which is primarily whom this store caters to, and has for the past 32 years.
As to who the owner is, it is debatable.
“She is the boss,” said Roy S. Clement of Starfish Drive, East Falmouth, half-jokingly, referring to his wife, M. Sharon Clement, as the pair opened the store last Tuesday.
“No, he is,” his wife shot back, as their 10-year-old twin Shelties, Nikki and Gracie, found a spot on the floor behind the counter.
“These are my bodyguards,” Mr. Clement said, laughing. “They’d rather be here than home.”
Mr. Clement opened the store in 1982 “to support his hobby,” his wife said. In the rear of the building, Mr. Clement owned an auto body shop and this store allowed him to tinker with much smaller ones during his down time. “I would work during the day and would do this at night. When I retired from my job I still kept the same hours,” he said, explaining why the store is only open three days for a total of 12 hours a week.
The store is an extension of his passion for building and flying remote controlled aircraft, a hobby he got into in 1968. His first plane was a Carl Goldberg 56. “The first one is always the hardest,” he said. “After that it is pretty easy.”
Passion for Building Planes
The experience of building a plane from scratch got him hooked instantly and from then on, he said, “we used to build them and fly them and crash them and rebuild them.”
His favorite plane that he built was a Cessna 310, complete with a 10-foot wingspan, later showing photos of it in an album that sits behind the counter. In that album are several photos of his daughter, Kelley M. Clement of East Falmouth Highway, when she was a baby, dwarfed by many of her father’s creations.
The couple also have two sons, Chad D. Clement of Happy Hollow Road and Richard Clement of East Falmouth, but only one, Chad, has an interest in flying.
Perhaps the best part for any enthusiast, Ms. Clement said, “is the first flight on a new plane. It is always exciting.”
Today Mr. Clement said the hobby has changed and instead of constructing planes from scratch, manufacturers sell kits that are known in the industry as ARFs (Almost Ready to Fly), which require a few modifications.
“I wouldn’t know what to do without this store,” Mr. Mazzucchi said more bluntly.
Still, he said, many prefer the old-fashioned way and for both audiences his store serves a vital need, carrying everything from small parts to large ones. RC Hobbies sells wooden propellers, plastic noses, a variety of paints and brushes, decals, wheels, pliers, rudders, engines, and gas tanks—the majority of the vehicles run on nitromethane and alcohol, although the larger ones run on gas.
The most popular item? “Glue,” the Clements say in unison.
Although many stores sell them cheaper, Mr. Clement said, those new to the hobby should expect to pay anywhere between $400 to $500 for a decent remote-controlled airplane.
The store also sells a variety of model cars as well as rockets, which are popular with children. Still its bread and butter are the remote-controlled airplanes.
Last week the couple welcomed three customers, or as Mr. Clement called them “regulars,” who were there as much for the camaraderie as they were for their mutual interest in miniature aircraft. Two wooden stools sit in front of the counter and an old-fashioned Coke machine toward the rear of the floor space dispenses old-fashioned glass bottles of the soda, adding to the Cheers-like atmosphere of the store where conversations jump from their shared interest to weather to life in general.
“When my wife tells me to get out of the house, I go down to the hobby shop,” Donald J. Mazzucchi Sr. of Mashpee said.
Joining him was Paul Clark of East Wareham, looking for help with a Beechcraft T-34B Mentor he was in the process of building.
Store Supports Those of Every Skill Level
Mr. Clark is a relative newcomer to the sport, recently joining the Otis Model Aero Club that is based out of the Frances A. Crane Wildlife Management Area adjacent to the old Nickelodeon movie theater on Route 151. “I have always wanted to do this as a kid, but I never did,” Mr. Clark said.
That changed when he was recently given a plane and he started building it. Whenever he needed help, he would come down to the Clements’ shop in East Falmouth, seeking advice. “They are teaching me how to fly,” he said, adding that the local club has also been supportive of his new hobby.
Although this is a passion for Mr. Clement, he admitted this week that he has put it on hold temporarily. “I’ve got other things like motorcycles and boats and cars so this is kind of on the back burner,” he said. “When I was first starting I would fly every day. I would come home, eat supper and then do a couple flights and come home.”
The trips to Crane, Mr. Clement said, are not solely for airplane enthusiasts to test their skills—the machines can do everything from loops to rolls to inverted flights—but to bond with others. “You can spend four to five hours there and maybe do two flights,” he said.
In between the time can be spent searching for an airplane that crashed, repairing an airplane or simply helping others.
And often those not flying quickly become armchair quarterbacks. “One will fly and the others will critique him,” Ms. Clement said with a laugh. “Then someone else goes up and they critique him too.”
“They’ll say, ‘You should do this’ or ‘You should do that’,” Mr. Mazzucchi said. He started flying about four years ago and enjoys all aspects, but considers the friendships he has formed the best part. “Getting out there with other people and flying it is just great,” he said.
Both Mr. Clark and Mr. Mazzucchi agreed that much of it would not be possible without a store like RC Hobbies in town. “The first weekend I flew the propeller flew off and we came here,” Mr. Clark said. “He had the part I needed and helped me put it back together.”
“I wouldn’t know what to do without this store,” Mr. Mazzucchi said more bluntly. “I guess I’d order stuff online or have to travel to New Hampshire or Rhode Island.”