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A Beautiful Day at Herman D. Lowery Field

A Brief History of the Pekin R/C Club

In the mid 1960’s, a handful of local men shared an interest in radio controlled airplanes. Around 1966, men like Hermon Lowery, Elton Robison, Alvin Woods, Norman Harvey, Bob Rice, Dr. John Sombeck and Dave Tebben were flying their models together, doing the best they could with the primitive equipment of that time Their flying locations changed as conditions permitted, flying at the west end of Main Street, 207 Third Street, South Pekin, and for a period of time at a farm/air strip in Delavan owned by member Dave Shipton.

These men agreed to begin the Pekin R/C Club during the time frame of 1966-1968 and by 1969-1970, the formation of the club was finalized.  The founders saw a potential and the opportunity to have a permanent Club Field on the Everett McKinley Dirksen Park property on Edgewater Drive in Pekin, IL. Doc Sombeck and Dave Tebben applied to the Pekin Park District Board for usage of the Everett McKinley Dirksen Park property off route 98 for the club’s future airfield. Permission was granted in 1974 and the above mentioned members began a hard and tedious job making their new flying field home.   

In the early days the field was very crude, as can been seen in the photos, barely an old farm barn yard. Holes were filled, ground was leveled, and a boundary fence was installed. The old barn still stood on the property, serving as a shelter and club house until it was demolished. Eventually, under the director of John Sombeck and other club members, the Pekin Park Board had men's and women’s restrooms constructed on the property.

With acres of grass that required weekly maintenance, the club purchased the needed mowers and equipment required, and supplies the manpower, blood and sweat to bring the flying field and adjacent areas into beautiful condition. An good sized block building was constructed to store maintenance equipment along with materials and safety equipment for various club functions and events.

It 1994, the club decided to apply for permission to construct a shelter for the club from the Pekin Park District. Once again with intervention from Dave Tebben, the Pekin Park Board granted permission to build the shelter, and agreed to supply the material for the building which would be built by the club members.

Since membership had grown over the years, several club members under direction from Clyde Ray, began the pavilion construction in late 1994, finishing construction by November of that year. Clyde worked diligently right along with several members such as Wayne Hood, Rick Conklin, Kevin Cline, Hermon Lowery, Jim and Justin Riley, Charlie Davis, John Staunton, John Sombeck, Steve Ball, and Robert Metzler, with Dave Nelson procuring the building materials supplied by the Park District. The following pictures show the progress and completed building. The trusses were “handmade” on the job site, sprawled across three picnic tables, a task completed with pride. As weather permitted, the concrete for the pavilion floor was formed and poured. Electricity was supplied to the building once a telephone pole hole was dug 20 feet deep for proper support. The depth of the hole, credited to Wayne Hood, is a miracle in itself. After many years of hard work, the facility began to take shape, evolving into what you see today. In April of 1994 the club recognized Hermon Lowery by naming the field in his honor.

Today, the field boasts a 25 foot by 175 foot asphalt paved runway. The original boundaries, surrounded by corn fields, have been expanded to allow more grass area for safe takeoff and landings in all wind conditions.  Trees, flowers and landscaping have been incorporated on the site, along with a pit safety fence, and an area enclosed area with chain link fencing where the public and members can assemble their aircraft and enjoy the sites and sounds of this great hobby.

Credit should be given to all club volunteers, led by Chris Leibel, who provide the manpower throughout the year to mow, clean, and maintain the site in great condition.

From 1966 to the present members of the Pekin RC Club have a lot to be proud of and thankful to the original founders and those who volunteered their help, influence and even personal finances along the way to make the Pekin R/C club what it is today.