‘Jumbos’ Fill The Sky At Local Field

Fly-In Showcases Some Pretty Hefty Models

Posted: June 22, 2013

Wayne Voyles (left) and Tyke Hale of Lynchburg watch their model jet zip past at nearly 160 mph during the fly-in. The model planes featured in the event are one-quarter to one-half the size of the full-scale aircraft they represent. (Photos by Jason Lenhart)
Virginia Beach pilot Frank Rega Sr. works on a competition ‘Ultimate’ aircraft he and his son Frank Jr. flew during the 29th annual Ray Gordon Memorial Jumbo Fly-In on Friday at the Valley R.C. Flying Club field.
A Eurofighter Typhoon, a replica European fighter jet, soars over the Valley R.C. Flying Club field on Friday during the 29th annual Ray Gordon Memorial Jumbo Fly-In.
Pilots Paul Schaffner (left) and Bob Donahue of Baltimore County, Md., prepare to land their Piper Tri-Pacer 1/3-scale model during the 29th annual Ray Gordon Memorial Jumbo Fly-In on Friday at the Valley R.C. Flying Club. Replica planes flew throughout the day, ranging from single-propeller planes to military jet replicas.
Veteran pilot Tyke Hale of Lynchburg works on parts from one of his RC planes on Friday during the 29th annual Ray Gordon Memorial Jumbo Fly-In at the Valley R.C. Flying Club.
Miniature-plane enthusiasts get a chance to check out the models up close on Friday during lunch break at the Ray Gordon Memorial Jumbo Fly-In at the Valley R.C. Flying Club.
HARRISONBURG — As 10-year-old Dylan Britsch waited for another model airplane to rise against a perfect blue-and-white backdrop Friday, he looked a little surprised.

“I thought they would be like this big,” he said, holding an invisible foot-long ruler between his hands.

Though they might look about that size at their highest point in the sky, the giant-scale model airplanes are anywhere from a quarter to half the size of the full-scale planes they represent. Their wingspans are upward of 80 inches, nearly 7 feet wide.

It was the first Ray Gordon Memorial Jumbo Fly-In for Dylan, a rising fifth-grader at John C. Myers Elementary School, and his dad, Peter Britsch, of Broadway. Though they were merely spectators, Dylan said he wouldn’t mind participating in the future.

The Valley R.C. Flying Club hosts the noncompetitive two-day event every year at the flying field across from Rockingham County Fairgrounds off U.S. 11.

This year’s fly-in, the 29th, will continue from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. It’s free and open to the public.

In addition to providing a family-friendly day of fun for the community, the club collected money and food for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank during the event.

Father-and-son team Frank Rega and Frank Rega Jr. of Virginia Beach aren’t new to the Jumbo Fly-In. They used to attend four or five model airplane events per year, but now they just come to this one.

“The hospitality’s just fantastic,” said Frank Rega Jr.

He started experimenting with remote-controlled model airplanes when he was about 7 or 8 years old, thanks to his father. He immediately loved it. 

He now has “a garage full” of the miniature planes and works at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach.

The club and its events tend to attract many father-son teams, according to local farmer Dan Myers, who’s been in the Valley R.C. Flying Club for at least 30 years.

“It’s something that anybody can learn to do,” said club President Tim Blankenship of Bridgewater. “You learn things about science and ... mathematics. [And] the atmosphere, it’s very comforting.”

In fact, many fliers get their start with the hobby during childhood.

Robert Cline, of Maurertown in Shenandoah County, started flying model airplanes when he was 15, thanks to his uncles.

“I kind of got the bug,” he said.

His childhood dream was to become a pilot, and though he never got his pilot’s license, flying a miniature World War II fighter plane is quite the thrill.

He said he crashed model airplanes “quite a bit” when he was learning to fly them, but his roughly $2,000 model of a P-47 Thunderbolt sat pretty in front of him after it swerved through the air Friday afternoon.

Cline chose to spend his 53rd birthday at the fly-in, trying to make his plane complete loops and rolls similar to those that fighter pilots might have made their full-scale versions do 70 years ago.

His plane even has a miniature pilot in the cockpit, in uniform. 

“It’s a fighter plane, so it needs a fighter pilot,” said Cline, one of the 12 pilots who participated Friday.

The Valley R.C. Flying Club meets on the first Tuesday of each month at the Bridgewater Church of the Brethren at 7:30 p.m.

For more information, visit www.vrcfc.org.

Contact Candace Sipos at 574-6275 or csipos@dnronline.com

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