PLATTSBURGH — A fleet of tiny engines droned while a crowd marveled at the miracle of flight and the excitement of racing.
Roughly 250 people of all ages showed up last Saturday at the Plattsburgh Radio Aero Modelers RC Park in Beekmantown to see radio-controlled planes, helicopters, trucks and race cars in action during the 13th-annual Radio-controlled Air Show and R/C Dirt Track Racing Hospice Fun Fly and Drive fundraiser.
Participants donated $1 per lap or $5 for six laps to drive their cars on a dirt track specifically made for R/C racing. Although the final tally is not in, an estimated $1,000 was raised for Hospice of the North Country.
At the other end of the park, numerous scale model prop planes, helicopters, jet planes and bi-planes took to the skies, providing a spectacular miniature air show for onlookers.
Model war planes were in flight as well, piloted by the six veteran participants in attendance.
The word “model” may be misleading to someone who has never set eyes on an R/C aircraft, as these planes often have wingspans upwards of 8 feet and reach speeds approaching 200 mph.
Originally the Plattsburgh Radio Aero Modelers only consisted of R/C aircraft enthusiasts, but has been accepting members who are passionate about R/C for the last four years.
“As of now, there are more plane guys,” said Jamie Drollette, who joined the group four years ago as one of the first R/C car enthusiasts. “But the cars are newer and growing faster. Most new members are car people.”
These are not your typical toy R/C cars.
They run on gasoline; they can be controlled from more than a mile away; they blast through dirt and rough terrain; and they can hit speeds of up to 100 mph.
Although these cars can appear as if they cost an arm and a leg, getting into R/C racing won’t necessarily break the bank, with entry level cars starting between $200 and $300.