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Our members have some of the greatest stories, and Tom Hintz, publisher of Flyingrc.net out of Concord, NC is no exception to that. Like many model pilots Tom “got the bug” while flying with his dad as a kid. He later worked at a hobby shop, taught others how to fly, and has continued to enjoy the hobby throughout his life. Tom was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease at a young age and wanted to continue to enjoy the hobby he loved and use it to help him fight the disease. The many tasks he has assigned himself for the upkeep of flyingrc.net have been a huge component of continuing to push and exercise his mind, one of the keys to fighting Alzheimer’s. Said Tom, “It is the combination of intense concentration and high levels of enjoyment that make RC flying the most effective therapy I can find.”

Tom hopes others will utilize RC the way he has. “One of the reasons I started my web sites was to show other folks with Alzheimer’s (and similar diseases) that with some effort we can use the intense concentration that this hobby demands to drive the brain exercise we need to maintain function. I think it is the combination of intensity and such a high level of fun that makes RC flying unique in how it helps me fend off the advancement of Alzheimer’s. I hope that my RC website demonstrates that and inspires others to use this hobby in their fight against Alzheimer’s.”

More about Tom:

In the late 1960’s I had the lack of foresight to volunteer for the Army as a door gunner because the picture the recruiter showed me looked cool. Loved the flying, the angry folks with guns below not so much. But my fascination with flight continued. Fast forward a few decades and I worked in a hobby shop with a growing RC department and learned to fly model planes. Before long I was selling Sig Kadet 40’s in large numbers and then teaching many of the customers to fly them. I primarily flew 40-size glow back then but did venture into ¼-Scale Pitts and Christian Eagles.

I left RC flying for 25 years when I moved south to Concord, NC for a 10 year stint as a staff writer/photographer for Circle Track Racing and later Stock Car Racing magazines. In that job I kept bumping into racing crew members and drivers who flew RC and the interest continued.

About four years ago I had an episode while driving to a woodworking show where I simply forgot where I was going and why. That on top of a growing awareness of memory issues landed me in doctor’s offices with a diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer’s. After the “get your life in order” speech my neurologist advised me to take up a hobby that worked my brain. I knew exactly what did that and was interesting enough that I would keep doing it. Besides, flying RC sounded like way more fun than getting my life in order.

Armed with a new (ParkZone) Visionaire I joined an AMA club, went out to the field and for the first time in 25 years put a plane in the sky. I managed to get two flights in before parking it 75-feet up in a tree but I was hooked once again. I have crashed a few planes along the way but the neurologist was continually impressed with how this brain exercise is preserving my brain and literally told me to “fly all I can”, right in front of my wife and everything! Even the wife had to admit that was essentially a prescription to fly RC!

Today I augment my weekend flying with the brain work of building my web sites, FlyingRC.net and FightingmALZ.com as I try to support the RC effort and to publicly document my journey through Alzheimer’s as long as I can. Life these days is pretty much RC 24/7 but I remain highly motivated.