Hobby Shops & Flying Fields in and Near Erie, Pennsylvania
Thermal-G R/C Club held its annual summer fly-in on August
15, 2010, at the Erie Tech Center. The day was sunny, a little
too warm for me, and quite windy. Here are a few pictures I
took of the flight line. Also present were member of the Bean
Hill Flyers control line club.
If you had done a Google or Bing search on hobby shops or flying
fields in and near the Erie, PA, area a few years ago, you wouldn't
have found much. If you were lucky, you'd have found a reference
to the Thermal-G radio control club, but that's about it. Now if
you do the same search, you have a good chance of finding this page.
Melanie and I moved here in May of 2008, and since then I have
made an attempt to identify where the hobby shops are located, and
where the various model flying groups meet. It has not been easy.
It's almost as if nobody wants you to know where they hide out,
but that's not the case - it's just that no one has bothered to
promote the venues on the Internet. So, this web page is an effort
to fix that.
BTW, I posted an article from 1962 about Erie's
newspaper running a piece on the
Keystone Klippers' need for a flying site.
Maxwell's Hobby Shop is owned and run by Joe Maxwell (a very
nice guy). The 600 sq. ft. shop is stuffed to the gills with kits
and equipment for all types of aeromodeling, including free flight,
control line, and radio control. There are some supplies for boats
and cars as well.
Directions to Hobby Shop:
Take exit 32 off of I-90 heading north on the Bayfront Connector
(Rt. 430). Keep in the right-hand lane while going about 0.6 mile.
Make a right onto Station Road, at the traffic light in front of
the Penn State Erie (Behrend) complex. Go about 500 feet, and on
the right, just past Colt Road, you will see a mailbox with "Maxwell"
on it. The hobby shop is in the building just beyond the house.
Gehrlein's Hobby Shop is owned and run by the Gehrlein family.
The shop, situated in a room above the workshop where they repair
and modify full-scale sailplanes, is full of modern kits and equipment
for all types of aeromodeling, including free flight, control line,
and radio control. There are some supplies for boats and cars as
Directions to Hobby Shop: If you
know how to get to the Thermal-G flying field, then you know how
to get to Gehrlein. If you don't know how to get there, follow the
instructions below for the
Then, instead of turning left at the gate (assuming you're heading
south), go about another 300-400 feet and you'll see a big building
on the left. That's it. The door is on the back relative to the
road. If you are lucky when you visit, there will be a full-size
sailplane in the shop being worked on.
3-D, Control Line, Electric,
Fixed Wing, Free Flight, Fuel/Gas, Helicopters, Park Flyers, Pattern,
Pylon Racing, Radio Control
Directions to Flying
Field: From I-90, take exit 24 south onto Peach Street
(Rt. 19), then go a few hundred feet and take the first right onto
Oliver Road. At about a mile, you will see the Five Points intersection,
with Erie Tech Center complex ahead on the right. Turn left (south)
onto Hamot Road. Continue past the couple housing complexes and
then after a mile, keep watch to the left, where you'll see a sign
next to a cleverly hidden gravel road. If you get to the driveway
for the glider port hangars, you've gone too far. Turn around, go
back 200 feet and make a right onto the dirt road. The parking lot
for the field is separated from the flying area by about 500 feet.
Note: There are now gates across the access road, so if they are
closed, that means nobody is flying.
Note also that the good
people at Gehrlein
Products who allow the club to fly there also run a hobby shop
on the site.
Directions to McDowell
Intermediate High School Gymnasium: From I-90, take
the 26th Street (Rt. 20) exit heading west. Go about 1 mile and
turn right onto Caughey Road. McDowell Middle School is on the right
after about a half mile. Turn in and go to the gymnasium entrance.
Note: Both Gerhlein's and
Wow, what a great hobby shop! Admittedly,
I don't get around too much, but this ranks in the top two or three
best hobby shops I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. You walk
through the front door of Action Hobbies and see shelves and walls
full of hobby and craft supplies, but then you walk up the stairs
and are greeted with an unbelievable amount of aircraft and rocketry
modeling gear. It would be hard to stuff any more stuff into the
available space. Action Hobbies also does a big online business,
so they probably more a lot of inventory through there. The prices
are absolutely on par with what you would pay from an online seller,
so that really works in their favor. Unfortunately, they have to
charge New York state sales tax to in-state purchasers (online or
walk-in), so the mail order deals sale a little if shipping is free
(which Action Hobbies offers on order over $100).