HAVERSTRAW, N.Y. -- The fun level will be sky high at this weekend’s Haverstraw Model Aerodrome, a yearly event that draws hundreds of plane lovers to a grassy field overlooking the Hudson.
The Hudson Valley Radio Control Club's 7th annual airshow will feature open flying of both fixed wing aircrafts and helicopters.
According to the club’s president, Bruce Leach, there will also be a full-sized chopper for folks to ogle. The club, whose home base overlooks Haverstraw Bay, has about 70 members and draws from diverse backgrounds.
“There’s a big variety of people,” said Leach, who is a bricklayer. “Doctors, restaurant owners … some like to build them (model aircraft), some just like to fly them,” he said.
The models range in cost from $300 to $25,000 and come in different kinds of kits, from “nothing but a box with a pile of sticks to 'ARF,' almost ready to fly,” but all require some amount of assembling, he said.
There’s been a lot of press about drones lately, said Leach, emphasizing that there’s a difference between the robot aerial vehicles and model aircraft.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, he said, “anything that flies by radio control is a drone.”
These model aircraft are most certainly not drones, Leach said.
First of all, he explained, model airplane flyers keep their craft within their line of sight.
“The bigger the plane, the bigger the investment; you don’t want to be flying that thing where you can't see it,” Leach said.
“It’s not like some guy sitting in an office who decides to send his drone somewhere five miles away,” he said.
Model aircraft are also not flown over people or property, Leach said.
Leach estimated the 2015 Aerodrome drew 700 to 800 participants and because Saturday’s event is part of the town’s 400th anniversary celebrations, Leach expects even bigger crowds this year.
There will be a flight-simulator field where novices can use a computer set-up to get a feel of how things work.
When they are ready to try it themselves, they will be paired with an instructor using a “buddy box” that lets him take over the controls when necessary.
The free event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20 at 585 Beach Road, a former landfill turned flying field, near the Haverstraw Bay County Park and marina.
“It’s one of the nicest places to fly on the East Coast,” he said, adding that people come from all over to use it.
The club will be providing shuttle bus service to the field from the park on Gagan Road.
The Town of Haverstraw, one of the show’s sponsors, will be giving out free hot dogs, soda and chips and children can take home a retro balsa wood glider as a souvenir.
The club will be holding a 50-50 raffle to raise funds for the Hi Tor Animal Care Center in Pomona, Leach said.