Powell Field hosts different kind of air show

October 10, 2004|STEPHEN BURNETT

JUNCTION CITY - The Edge 540 aerobatic plane skimmed across the overcast sky, dived low over the runway, then lifted again with its nose straight up. Then, with seemingly little effort, it stopped there, vertical in space, and hovered like a helicopter, dangling under its own spinning propeller.

"The guy flying it is Dan Bailey," said pilot Keith Hollifield, watching from the ground. "He's been a pilot for quite a number of years."

The two pilots were among more 40 model plane enthusiasts who turned out Saturday morning for the small-scale air show at Powell Field in Junction City. The demonstrations continue today.

Most of the flyers are from Kentucky, but some came from Tennessee and Ohio, said event coordinator Lew McFarland.

"It's a sport as well as a hobby, which is more sophisticated than the average person thinks," McFarland said. "Yet it's affordable and the equipment is cheaper than it was 10 or 20 years ago."


McFarland, who owns a model airplane shop in Lexington, described himself as "a retired pharmacist who's an airplane nut." He's been fooling with model planes since he was a teenager.

Bailey, a Toyota assembly worker from Georgetown, said he's been flying for 12 to 13 years.

"I've always had a thing for engines," Bailey explained later. "I was riding my motorcycle past an airfield, saw some planes in the sky, stopped and started talking to some fellows. They kind of drug me into the situation after I realized how much horsepower those little bitty motors can make."

Bailey's plane was "36 percent the size of the regular," Hollifield said. "Probably going to have a wingspan of 100 inches.

"I've been flying models for about 11 years, and I've been part of the Lexington Model Airplane Club for that amount of time," he said. "This is the third year we've done the show down here in Danville."

This year's visit was no accident

John and Gisela Zedack were two of the spectators who came out to the airport to watch the pilots play, making a return visit after stumbling upon last year's display by accident.

Gisela Zedack said. "We drove down this road and we seen them things fly around," Gisela Zedack said. "But this year we read it in the paper and we decided to come watch it for a while."

One model plane buzzed high above the runway and its pilot released a parachuted figure, who drifted down just like the real thing to a touchdown on the grass, a few yards from the pavement.

"It was amazing," Gisela Zedack said. "And we couldn't understand how he got so close, and we didn't know whether he was going to land in another field or close by, and he did.

"It's really interesting," she said. "And they put a lot of work in it, you can see that. And how high they go!"

Her husband added, "There's a lot of money involved in those. Those aren't just Wal-Mart specials."

Bailey acknowledged the hobby takes a lot of work.

"It took years of beating my head against the wall to learn how to do this," he said. "I'm kind of one of the more stubborn-type people, I guess. I had help with about the first six to eight flights, and then after that I tried to teach myself without further getting some experienced modeling help - and tore up a few airplanes."

He said his first model lasted four flights.

"Then, total destruction," he said. "And it was a four-month project to build ... four months of work for four ten-minute flights doesn't quite equal out.

"It's part of the bad part of the hobby, though. You're going to have it crash here or there. You just do all your maintenance to try to prevent every incident that you can from going wrong."

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