Warbirds to hold fly-in

Published 9:45 pm Thursday, April 22, 2010

The guys who fly the Giant Scale Warbirds take what they do very seriously, but they have plenty of fun while doing it.

The Central Alabama Sport Flyers and the Giant Scale Warbirds Association will present their annual Warbirds Over Alabama Fly-In on April 30 and May 1 at the CASF Club Field off County Road 47 near Clanton.

The planes are large, remote control scale models of aircraft chiefly from the World War I and World War II eras. Most run on gas-powered engines. They can reach speeds in excess of 100 mph and can fly out of sight while remaining in control.

“There’s nothing like that feeling of seeing a plane in the air, knowing that you’re in control,” said Ray Horton, president of CASF. “I only wish that I had gotten into it years ago.”

Horton himself doesn’t typically fly Warbirds. He is more interested in the sleek models that do aerobatic maneuvers and tricks in the air. But that’s just one example of the numerous types of remote control aircraft out there.

The kind of planes in the upcoming Fly-In can do some tricks but are better known for the high-speed passes much like you might see in an air show featuring real planes. They’re so real, in fact, that it’s easy to forget they’re radio control.

“Some of them go to great extremes,” said Horton, referring to the intricate detail found in each model.

Douglas Moatts of Clanton built his SNJ-5 AT-6, a World War II replica, for his son around 20 years ago. He had built models as a kid, but his interest was rekindled when his son started flying RC (remote control) models.

It takes about $300 to purchase materials for a training plane, although the larger planes can cost thousands to build. Club members pay $200 in annual dues, but Moatts says it’s well worth it.

“It’s a lot cheaper than hunting or fishing,” he said.

Between 15 and 20 pilots are expected to participate in Warbirds Over Alabama. Similar events are held all over the Southeast, some involving many different types of planes and even RC helicopters.

“We just have a good time,” Horton said. “We like to have a super big crowd out there. I like to see people get interested in remote control flying.”

He added that the club has open membership and offers training lessons.

Warbirds Over Alabama will be held Friday, April 30 from 8 a.m. until dusk and Saturday, May 1 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Directions: From I-65 Exit 205, turn north on Highway 31 toward Clanton and go one mile, turn on County Road 47 and go three miles to the CASF flying field.

The field will be on the right.