No, that slight hum in the air at Maalwyck Park over the weekend wasn’t the insects.
Although some people in the area might have confused the quiet sound of several electric-powered flying plane and helicopter models as nature, in reality what they were hearing was the 9th annual All-Electric Radio Control Model Air Show put on by The Electric Powered Aeromodellers Club of Glenville.
“We’re trying to inspire interest in youngsters to get a hobby,” said President John Hackert about the event.
Hackert helped form the club 10 years ago because a large number of electric air model enthusiasts in the area had nowhere to meet. After a few demonstrations, the town of Glenville allowed the club to use the park for free if they hosted an annual event for the public.
He said part of the reason people are drawn to electric models over the gasoline kind is because they are much quieter and there are no emissions.
“Gasoline models sound like a flying lawn mower,” he joked.
Modelers from around the region showed off their air creations from helicopters and jets to replica war planes. Those watching the event were encouraged to ask questions and even given the opportunity to fly some of the miniature crafts.
Most models are built from kits, but do not include the electronics inside. The builder then modifies their craft for the height and speed they wish. Some are slow, like “gliders.” Others are built to go fast like jets, or the aerodynamic “hot liner” models.
Frank Mendicino, who is a pilot from the Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard base in Glenville, has been a member of the club for seven years.
He said he wanted to get involved in the hobby because “it’s fun to fly a plane that, if you crash it, you can lick your wounds, shell out a few twenties, and start again.”
not fit to fly
He was merely an observer on Sunday because, after returning from a six-month deployment in Afghanistan where he flies BD-700 business jets, he didn’t feel any of his model planes were air worthy.
He said flying the models is harder than some may think.
“I think flying real planes is easier,” he said.
This is because the pilot is on the ground and cannot feel the force or vibrations one would feel if he were riding inside. They must never take their eyes from the sky, transferring what they see to the controllers at their thumbs.
Mendicino offered high praise for 32-year-old model air pilot Jason Cerasuolo of Rotterdam.
Flying both a jet and hot liner model called a stinger, Cerasuolo said he had an affinity for speed, at one point clocking one of his souped-up models at over 134 mph.
“They make fun of me because I have one model called a Tiger Moth. It’s meant to be a World War I replica, but it’s not meant to do the things that I do with it,” he said.
Heckert said most enthusiasts begin when they are younger, like Cerasuolo, who began flying when he was 14. Others start later in life after they retire and need something to do.
“People from all walks of life join,” said Heckert. “We are fortunate to have a wide variety of professionals involved as well.”
The models can be pricey.
A good starter model costs about $200, according to Cerasuolo, but most enthusiasts own more than one. Mendicino said he had a basement full of models and parts he’s collected over 10 years. He estimated his collection to be worth around $7,000. Cerasuolo said his was “too much.”
“That’s not bad though,” said Mendicino. “Some guys have one model worth that much.”
The kits usually come pretty cheap, but the electronics and lithium batteries inside can boost the cost dramatically.
Spectators watched as models quietly zipped past them. According to their rules, models cannot fly over the crowd or get too close to buildings and structures because they could cause damage to property or hurt someone if contact were made.
Mike Billok brought his three children — Sam, 6, Grace, 10, and Maddie, 12 — to watch. Also with them was the children’s grandfather Stan Billok.
“My dad did model planes with us growing up, so we both wanted to bring them to see this.” Mike said.
Stan Billok said they mostly made model rockets when Mike was young, but wanted his grandchildren to see the electric models.
Grace and Maddie both were given the chance to fly a plane.
A more experienced member of the club got it into the air while they handled the controls afterward.
“It was kind of hard at first but once you get the hang of it it’s fun,” said Maddie.
Grace said she may want to starting flying models as a new hobby.
“Well, Christmas is coming up,” said their grandfather. “Though that may be one expensive Christmas gift.”
Heckert suggested those new to the hobby should join a club.
“You’ll be disappointed if you don’t and left picking up a lot of pieces by yourself,” he said, laughing.