Chipola R/C Aviators Spring Fly-in set for April 5

The Chipola R/C Aviators club is inviting the public to join them for a day of family fun when the club hosts its spring fly-in, Saturday, April 5, in Marianna.

The open, no-fee fly-in for members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics will feature a variety of radio-controlled aircraft buzzing through the skies. Scale-model airplanes like the Chipmunk WWII Canadian trainer plane, P51 WWII fighter plane, Cessna 172, Piper Cub, Piper Pawnee and more are expected to fly. For those familiar with the group, rest assured that Snoopy’s flying doghouse will return.

A nearby spectators’ area will give everyone a great view of the action and one of the planes, an RC Telemaster, will periodically fly sweet treats to the crowd, as its drop box lets loose candy cargo attached to parachutes that gently lower it to the ground.

Aficionados of model plane aviation, from the experienced to the curious, are welcome to the spring fly-in at the Marianna Model Air Park. Event admission is free and the $2 parking donation (not required), as well as proceeds from the sale of concessions — hot dogs and chili dogs ($3), chips and water (50 cents) and sodas ($1) — will benefit the host club.

The spring fly-in will raise money for the Chipola R/C Aviators to pay for insurance, maintenance of the air park field, which the club leases from the city of Marianna, and paying debt incurred from facility improvements made in recent years.

Francis Kellison, club president and instructor, says the Chipola R/C Aviators organization, relies on events like the April 5 fly-in to not only keep up with club expenses, but also expose newcomers to a hobby that, for some, can be an expensive to take up.

Kellison estimates that base-line equipment costs of around $400 would allow someone to join the world of radio-controlled flying. And membership in the Chipola R/C Aviators (annual dues are $50) means access to around 30 other like-minded individuals from the local area who have extensive insight and know-how to offer the newcomer and camaraderie for all.

If the start-up costs are a concern, the spring fly-in gives the public a chance to see what types of planes are in use and talk to experienced hobbyists who can answer questions about RC flying. Anyone whose interest is piqued by seeing the planes in action can make arrangements with the club to get a free flying lesson (plane provided) at a later date.

Chipola R/C Aviators was chartered in 1995, when it joined the Academy of Model Aeronautics, a national organization that offers benefits like insurance, education, networking opportunities and more. Use of the Marianna Air Park flying field is open to all AMA members, like those from Chipley, Panama City, Tallahassee and Dothan, Ala., who Kellison says have made use of the open flying space.

Members of the Chipola R/C Aviators occasionally travel to places like DeFuniak Springs and Havana, performing demonstrations at out-of-town events, but Kellison says the hometown crowd can look forward to the group’s participation in the Armed Services Day fly-in planned for May 17 at the Marianna Municipal Airport.

On April 5, those headed to the spring fly-in can get there from downtown Marianna by taking Caverns Road to the Airport Industrial Park entrance, turning left onto Russell Road and taking the first left onto Healthy Way, where the Jackson County Health Department is located. Then look for signs directing you to the nearby field gate.

More information about the Chipola R/C Aviators is available online at For details on free RC flying lessons, contact club president Francis Kellison at 209-8219 or

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