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Small jets soar over Whidbey
Jets were flying last weekend at Outlying Field.
The installation, known as the place Navy pilots practice touch-and-go landings before deployment, became the three-day home for a group of radio-control airplane enthusiasts.
They participated in the 23rd annual Jets Over Whidbey, which provided a laid-back environment on the picturesque island.
“We draw people from all over the Western United States and Canada,” said Tom Berry, event coordinator for the Whidbey Island Radio Control Society. Bruce Bender made an 18-hour drive from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to participate in the fly-in. He controlled a Bandit, ARF, which he has owned for four years.
Event organizers expected around 30 pilots to participate in the fly-in, which Berry stressed isn’t a competition.
Powered by jet fuel, some of the radio- control planes flying over the weekend could reach speeds of 200 mph.
Outlying Field provides several attractive features for the pilots, namely it has a concrete field.
“It’s unprecedented to have this nice of a field,” Berry said adding there are only a few places throughout Washington state model jet engines can be flown.
Model Planes of all shapes and sizes flew during the three-day event. Behzad Pakzad from Seattle, finished building Futura model jet a couple of days before the event while event director Bill Broderick spent around a year making sure one of his jets had a local flair.
The Mill Creek resident bought an F-18 model jet and remodeled it to look like an EA-18 Growler that flies from NAS Whidbey Island — specifically one flying for VAQ 141, the Shadowhawks. He made decalls, used a composite fiberglass to produce the pods and antenna to mimic the Growler.
“I just like that it’s a local plane, Broderick said. “I’m happy the tail hook works.”
The Whidbey Island Radio Control Society is a group of enthusiasts who fly both propeller and turbine powered model airplanes. Membership stands at around 130 people ranging from teenagers to octogenarians. Berry said membership generally fluctuates a bit as some military participants get sent out on deployment.
Generally people start out piloting slower propeller planes before making the upgrade to turbines. Before that can happen, people have to go through a credentialing process that includes solo flights.
He noted that turbine model airplanes can cost thousands of dollars while a propeller-powered plane can be purchased for several hundred dollars.
The society draws members from around Whidbey Island and holds meetings at 7 p.m., the fourth Monday of the month at Family Bible Church on North Heller Road.
Go to www.wircsrc.com for more information.