Model airplanes take to the runway at EPCAL

(Credit: Tim Gannon)
(Credit: Tim Gannon)

Hundreds of planes, jets and helicopters converged on the western runway at the Enterprise Park at Calverton Saturday and then flew around the area for most of the day.

All of them weighed less than 50 pounds.

Saturday was “National Model Aviation Day” and Edgewood Flyers of Deer Park celebrated by having a model aviation “fly-in” at EPCAL.  

The event, which continued Sunday, was a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Foundation.

Edgewood Flyers, which is a member of the Long Island Aero Modelers Association, had been trying to gain access to the unused western runway since 2007, but town officials feared it could interfere with their attempts to get state approval for a subdivision at EPCAL.

This year, with subdivision plans moving forward, the town finally agreed.

The protocol for the weekend event was pretty simple, people flew their model aircraft, according to Edgewood Flyers president Chuck Davis.

“It’s just good, fun fellowship,” he said. “Today, there’s no competition, just who has got the best airplane. And all of the proceeds go to Wounded Warriors.”

There also is no admission charge to the event, but money for Wounded Warriors was raised through a $10 landing fee charged to pilots, as well as through donation buckets and sponsorships, Mr. Davis said.

He’s hoping the event can take place annually at EPCAL for as long as the western runway is there.  The town has proposed to turn it into grasslands and sell the land in the future.

Some of the planes were about a foot long, but others were around five feet long.  There was no limit on the length of the aircraft, but they were limited to less than 55 pounds, according to Eric Williams, the vice president of district II of Long Island Aero Modelers Association Executive Council.

The cost of the model aircraft at EPCAL Saturday ranged from $100 to, in some cases, $5,000 to $10,000, he said. Many were battery powered but others were powered by gas, he said.

(Credit: Tim Gannon)
(Credit: Tim Gannon)

The model aircraft on display at EPCAL included fixed-wing planes, helicopters and even jets. They were speed limited, but Mr. Williams said some of the jets flying Saturday can reach speeds of 100 mph.

How long does it take to learn how to fly a model aircraft?

“If you start with trainers, young people pick it up quickly, maybe in a month or two,” Mr. Williams said. “Especially young people who are used to working with video games. Adults? Maybe several months. But once you learn, it’s a lifetime thing, it’s like riding a bicycle.

Some of the pilots here today have been flying for 30, 40 years.”

Several town officials attended the event.

“We hope this goes on for years to come because this runway has been closed and we want to get it active with airplanes again … model airplanes,” Councilman John Dunleavy said in addressing the group.

“It really is a wonderful event,” Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said.

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