TAMPA, Fla. — There’s a group of retirees in Tampa that love to fly planes, but for one reason or another, the thrill of climbing into the cockpit is no longer possible. However, that doesn’t mean they still can’t be pilots.
“Between helicopters, drones and airplanes I got 36 airplanes,” said Bob Peiser.
He is referring to remote control planes. He has been flying them since he was 5-years-old. He’s now 85, and it’s still his favorite hobby.
“It’s more fun now than it was then because I can still do it,” said Peiser.
Ten years ago, he created Tampa Indoor Flyers as a way to share his love for aviation.
Every Wednesday morning, they turn the gym at the All People’s Life Center into their own private airfield.
“Each guy wants to advance to the next level, to where he’s doing sophisticated aerobatics, and doing all the tricks of the trade, trying out his own designs,” said Peiser.
Many of these retirees once flew before, like Donnie Hardaway.
“And it absolutely fills the void that’s not there,” said Hardaway. “I still have the same thrill, the same little buzz in the stomach, a little nervous feel, and it’s a feeling like no other when you break ground and go up the first time.”
With up to a dozen planes in the air at once, there is always bound to be a crash.
“We just say sorry about that,” said Hardaway, who was involved in minor midair collision.
Peiser said no matter how rough the landing, everyone earns their wings when it comes to camaraderie.
“I can still have a lot of fun with a bunch of guys,” said Peiser.