For the 32nd year, the summer skies over the Mitchell Airfield will come to life with the sights and sounds of remote controlled airplanes and helicopters.
The Platte Valley RC’ers will host their annual Air Fair and Fun Fly this weekend at the location 1.5 miles south of the city.
The festivities will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 24. Officially, they’ll go from 8 a.m. to noon on the following day, “But you can fly all day on Sunday if you’d like to,” said RC club president Bill Rhoades.
Rhoades said the festivities bring in hundreds of spectators and dozens of flyers from all over the area.
“People come in from Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado. This year we might have people coming in from Kansas, too,” he said. “We’re hoping ... to have about 25 flyers. Somewhere in that neighborhood.”
The event is free for spectators to attend. There will be chairs and canopies for shade provided, as well as lunch and refreshments. There is, however, a $20 landing fee for RC pilots.
“Most people here are just airplane buffs,” Rhoades said. “A lot are full-scaled pilots and this is their hobby.”
One group of RC airplane enthusiasts from Colorado, Rhoades said, make the journey in large quantities to participate.
“They’re great supporters of us,” he said. “Most of them have been coming up, 50 or so of them, just enjoying our valley, enjoying our airfield.”
Spectators to the weekend’s Air Fair and Fun Fly can expect planes with anywhere from one feet long to longer than a person is tall. The planes will be of both military and civilian build.
Pilots will perform stunts, trail smoke and fill the sky with their remote controlled vehicles.
“They’ll take those 15-pound airplanes and just fly them straight up until they’re out of sight,” Ruben Siegfried, the RC’ers secretary treasurer, said. “A bunch of them can fly at a time as long as you can keep track of your airplane.”
For the tried and true airplane buffs, a swap meet will allow them to exchange engines, parts and whole RC planes. There will even be a raffle for one of the planes, an air tractor with a 5-feet wingspan.
Tickets for the raffle start at $1. Rhoades said they are available at Pinnacle Bank in Mitchell and will be sold throughout the duration of the Air Fair itself.
The club was founded in 1974, and Rhoades said he joined back in 1981. Currently, there are around 10 members.
Rhoades said the club’s leadership expects a rather good turnout for the event, particularly on Saturday when they’ll have more time to fly.