Fly-in attracts plethora of planes


Howard Davidson, left, talks to Dick Meyers, right, while Jim Miller looks on. Davidson flew a one-fifth scale A-D 5 Skyraider at a recent fly-in sponsored by the Three Rivers Area Model Plane Society.

Submitted photo

Don’t feel intimidated if you cannot identify all the airplanes at this weekend’s Hatbox Memorial Giant Scale Fly-In.

Event director Gaines Smith said “pilots” can offer plenty of information.

“We understand more about the planes than probably most full-scale pilots do,” Smith said. “We go out and we research the project. We want to know the history behind the airplane — who manufactured it, who flew it, what year it was flown, whether it was World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Korea, a modern jet.” 

The Hatbox Memorial Giant Scale Fly-In will be Friday and Saturday at Love-Hatbox Sports Complex. The fly-in is sponsored by the Three Rivers Area Model Plane Society, or TRAMPS.

Admission is free.

Smith said the Fly In, now in its 16th year, attracts 30 to 40 model airplane pilots. They’ll fly 60 to 80 planes.

“This is a type of event that’s attractive to spectators any time during the day,” Smith said, adding that up to five planes will fly at a time.

He said the event could draw hundreds of spectators. 

He said giant scale planes feature wingspans of 80 inches or larger; giant scale biplanes have spans of 60 inches or larger.


Model planes such as this A-10 Warhog will fill the skies at the Hatbox Memorial Giant Scale Fly-In, this Friday and Saturday at Love-Hatbox Sports Complex. The plane is powered with two jet turbines.

Submitted photo

“We’ll have everything from World War I warbirds all the way to modern jet warbirds — Vietnam era, World War II era,” he said. “When we finish an airplane and get them in the air, we put a little piece of history in the air.”

Smith said he just finished building a one-fifth-scale A-1H Skyraider, a Vietnam-era Navy carrier.

He said he’s been flying model planes since age 12.

“I’ll soon be 70 years old,” he said. “As a kid, aviation was very interesting to all of us boys. Back then, you had to build everything that you flew. I started out building stick and tissue airplanes. As I got older, I got into the radio control stuff. And I kept doing it after I retired here.”

Smith said he has no clue how many he has built.

“Hundreds,” he said. “I’ve done everything from civilian planes to prop jobs.”

He said model jet planes intimidate him.

However, he said people could see “some good-sized jets and actual turboprops” at the fly-in. A turboprop uses a turbine to power the propeller.


A one-third scale Piper J-3 Cub flies in a recent fly-in sponsored by the Three Rivers Area Model Plane Society. The organization will host a fly-in Friday and Saturday at Love-Hatbox Sports Complex.

Submitted photo

Ken West, who retired from the Air Force, said he converted a gas-powered model plane to into a SIAI Marchetti turboprop.

“The Marchetti is an Italian light aircraft designed as a military trainer,” West said. “It was also used as a light combat aircraft for smaller air forces. There were about 2,000 Marchettis made.”

West said he likes flying jet-powered model planes.

“Most of the planes down there are propeller-driven planes,” he said. “This is propeller-driven also, but it is powered by a jet engine.”

He said the plane, which has a 120-inch wingspan, will sound “almost exactly like a jet airplane.”

“You won’t hear the gas piston engine noise you do on most of the planes,” he said. “You’ll see some of the propeller turning, but it won’t make the propeller noise the other planes do. The jet noise overpowers it.”

He described the noise as the same “whoosh” one hears at an airport, but not as loud.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928, @cspauldingMPhx or

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