PALOS VERDES, Calif.  – To help tune out the stress of these uncertain times, Dennis St John turns to the sky. 

“The winds coming up the hill and just as the eagles soar so do I,” said St John. 

A retired aerospace worker, St John is used to having his head in the clouds. 


Today, his favorite form of social distancing includes flying his radio control airplane, though finding an open park or outdoor space has become increasingly difficult. 

“I’m a bird brain and bird brain’s OK with me now,” St John said, staring up at his plane in flight. 

The only problem with his beloved hobby: it attracts people directly to him. 

“Unfortunately, I draw people in like a magnet for some reason,” St John said. 

But this is more than just an escape from a safer-at-home order. It’s a way of looking up for hope during a turbulent time. 

“I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three months ago.  It’s like a kick in the stomach,” St John said. 

The impact of that news made him determined to find a way to cope.

“I’m regenerating nerve connections in my brain doing this,” he said. “I leave my body and it doesn’t hurt any longer.”  

Before social distancing orders, St John flew his radio control planes with a group of fellow hobbyists in SULA, the Soaring Union of Los Angeles. But the threat of coronavirus has kept many of them from leaving their homes.

“Everybody in my group is retired old guys, we’re like ground zero for this thing,” St John said. 

That of course leaves him flying solo for now. 

“It’s a simple life for a simple man,” he said. “I mean therapy? This is it, it’s beautiful.”