Wavre Aero Club launching & embracing technology with
a Virtual 3D platform for its 41st Exhibition
Belgian Premiere, if not World Premiere, this Saturday February 6 at 09:00 the Wavre Aero Club will kick off its 41st Exhibition, through the online 3D Virtual Platform. Great line-up. Stunning aircraft led skilled owners and passion. Free online access, no queue, roam around all aircraft and exhibits.
We reached out to Renaud Leclercq, President of the Aero Club.
Aviation 24: When did you get aeromodelling ‘virus’ and Passion ?
RL : “It all started back as a kid around 12 or 13. I wanted to become a pilot and started to make some plans. My education and career took me throughout a myriad of experiences around the Globe up to today where I’m flying 737 and got appointed President of the Aero Club de Wavre.”
Aviation 24: Is aeromodelling an ‘Elite hobby’ due to the aircraft and equipment to buy or is it accessible to everyone?
RL : “This hobby or activities are not elitist at all, it is wide open to the grand public, depending on what they would like to acquire and which budget they have. Throughout the years – I remember around my 16, we would have pay around 400 EUR for similar equipment – things have evolved and today’s price are quite affordable. Entry aircraft and equipment would be circa 120-150 EUR. Not bad at all to get started ! Many members are even buying the raw material, design and do the cutting (eg with 3D printers) and assembling themselves or simply help each other. It really depends on what you are up to and how much time you would like to dedicate to this activity.”
Aviation 24: We see today, among the many challenges in the World, also electric vehicles arising on the market, does this affect also aeromodelling ?
RL : “Good question, well in fact, it’s a great complimentary way to enjoy aeromodelling as it opens up the possibilities while decreasing the engine maintenance and most interesting, providing more torque thus allowing different figure styles. It depends on the owner, what are they more comfortable with. My wife for example is also part of the Club and she enjoys far more the electric engines as it’s ready to use right away whereas with a combustion engine, you would need to check it all, warm it up, clean it up etc.. so more hassle during the activity.”
Aviation 24: Assuming we are newbies and we would like to get started, what do we do?
RL : “Well the Club aims for safety and therefore is training the new comers in order for them to fully understand the basis (weather, aerodynamics, fields…) and get operational with double control remotes. They gradually become independent and get quite quickly their own equipment. The training delivers a certificated at the end.”
Thank you very much Renaud. Let’s now dive into your Press Release, find out what the 3D virtual tour will offer us and enjoy some pictures taken by your Communications Officer Francis Floor.
Excerpt and pictures from the Press release issued by the Aero Club, before you board the 3D immersion experience :
“The Aéro Club de Wavre (also known by the abbreviation ACW) which, contrary to what one might think is not a light aviation club but an Aeromodelling club that organised since the first year of its creation in 1980, its first exhibition of model airplanes. Over the years this event, which is aimed at a public of enthusiasts but is also open to the general public, has acquired growing notoriety and has attracted visitors from all over the country and often even from abroad. Last year, for the 40th edition, it was a great success with a large number of models ranging from the model suitable for beginners to the exceptional model which has made many visitors dream.”
“The Wavre Expo, as the aero modellers colloquially call it, has gradually become a must-see and is eagerly awaited each year by many enthusiasts.
People come there, of course to admire the many models on display, but also to find on the stock exchange the engine, the small part that has become unavailable in specialist stores, the buildable kit or the ready-made model.
But we mainly come there to meet each other: after 3 months during which the winter climate leaves few possibilities to fly the models and to meet friends in the field, all are happy to meet in a friendly and warm atmosphere in this village hall of the Town Hall of Wavre which has been welcoming them for so long. Thus, during the two days of the exhibition, a good thousand visitors pass.
In 2020, the Wavre Expo took place on February 1-2, when no one expected what would happen to us. When the Expo ended, we had to remember to reserve the dates for 2021 and it is January 30 and 31 that are chosen.
And the first confinement arrived and it was necessary to adapt to the new rules, also on all terrains where model aircraft manufacturers evolve their models. Protocols are established to allow safe practice and are well respected by members: a question of protecting themselves, of protecting others but also a question of good citizenship.
Months go by but the pandemic does not really pass and in November 2020, 3 months from the date chosen for the next Expo, it is obvious that it will not be able to take place.
The ACW members were not the type to give up and they tried to find a formula to organise the 41st Expo and not to interrupt this beautiful tradition. And one of the club members came up with the idea of doing a Virtual Expo …
But what does it mean? In these turbulent times, the “virtual” is a bit used to ‘all sauces’, is it about putting together photos, drawings or maybe just uploading videos from the Expos of previous years?
There follows an explanation of the process which would require the installation of the different models in the village hall of the Town Hall of Wavre, as this is where our previous Expos have been held. Once the installation has been completed, no public will be allowed to visit it, but a specialised firm will come and do a laser scanning of the entire room with the models on display.
Some say that basically it won’t be much different from a movie but this time filmed by a laser rather than a video camera!
Well, no, we are promised that it will be totally different because the visitor will be able through his screen to move around the Expo, turn left, right, approach a model to look at a detail, the ‘admire it from all angles… and the icing on the cake, a beacon located next to some models provides additional information such as its characteristics or a video showing the model in flight. For those who have a “virtual reality” headset it will be a total immersion in the Expo because they will see what their gaze is when they turn their heads.
All of this looks promising, however, before we do anything we need permission from the City of Wavre authorities to be able to occupy the room while the pandemic still reigns. A request is made, along with a description of the sanitary protocol that will be applied by the ACW. In its response, the City that trusts us allows us to use the room to create our “Virtual Expo”.
You have to take action, get in touch with the model makers who are likely to exhibit beautiful models and get their cooperation on this crazy adventure. No less than 34 exhibitors have agreed to participate and a total of some 62 models are promised to us for the exhibition.
And here we are on D-1, a team of 10 members of the ACW proceeds to set up the room in order to accommodate the various models promised early the next day.
Saturday, January 30, is D-Day, at 8 am, the first modellers brought their models, but not in a ‘traditional way’ as our protocol limits the number of people present simultaneously in the room, up to 10 and we have communicated a range of half an hour to assemble their model and place it in the place that has been reserved for it. Those who live closest to Wavre come first because they can go home and come back later to resume their model while those who come from afar, Arlon, Ostend, Verviers or Genk come last around noon because this limits the time during which they will have to wait before leaving once the scanning is finished… The ACW would have liked to thank them by offering them drinks and meals, but this is unfortunately totally impossible because everything is closed…
It is 1 p.m., everything is set up and scanning can begin, only the operator is still in the room and, after an hour and a half of work, everything is recorded and ready to be put together by powerful computers.
On Monday, February 1, the members of the committee received the premiere of “Expo 2021 in 3D” from the Aéroclub de Wavre and there, it was the surprise, the dazzling; the promise of something spectacular and innovative has been kept. All that remains to be done is to add the tags and we will be able to upload it on Saturday February 6 at 9 a.m., our Expo’s usual opening time.
As in fairy tales, this adventure needs a conclusion: in difficult and gloomy times, it is possible to be creative and find exciting alternatives to what our routine used to be. It takes a little dreaming and all the energy you need to make your dream come true.
Of course, this exhibition did not allow us to round up the cash register of the Aéro Club de Wavre, on the contrary it weakened our finances a little but the game was worth it ‘”.
Time for showtime and immersion ! More actions awaits you on https://aeroclubdewavre.be/accueil/accueil-expo/