Radio-controlled jets take to the sky

"Whidbey Island Radio Control Society (WIRCS) is sponsoring a model aircraft fly-in for jet models from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Navy Outlying Field in Coupeville. WIRCS president Michael Mosbrooker said he expects about 25 radio control jet pilots from at least six states will show up at the event“There will be very realistic, very fast flying aircraft,” he said. “Some of the jets get up to 200 miles per hour.” Participants, who must be Academy of Model Aeronautics members or MAAC members, have to pay a $20 landing fee, but the event is free for spectators.Though the event is non-competitive, recognition prizes will be awarded for different categories such as best military or sport aircraft.Event coordinator Chuck Bower said that the turbine engine powered jets are the aircrafts to watch.“It’s a new technology,” he said. “They’re literally miniature jet engines that can get up to almost 100,000 revolutions per minute. They have the sound and the smell of a jet.” Mosbrooker said mechanical innovation is one of the things that makes the event interesting.“Last year, we had an F-14 with sweep-back wings that actually swept back,” he said.Mosbrooker said WIRCS’ 110 members come from towns all over western Washington including Everett, Anacortes, and Mukilteo and from as far away as British Columbia, Canada. Besides hosting flying events, WIRCS publishes a newsletter, provides flight training in Coupeville and holds a Christmas dinner.The WIRCS members like getting together for social interaction, and many of them are fulfilling an infatuation born out of childhood curiosity, Mosbrooker said.“My mother bought me an airplane when I was six, and I’ve been into it ever since,” he said.Some people only like to fly, but Mosbrooker said he likes figuring out the planes and putting them together. “I like the technical challenge,” he said.Many radio-control enthusiasts build the aircrafts from scratch out of different materials such as fiberglass and balsa wood.“I’ll try anything,” Mosbrooker said. Prebuilt, radio-controlled planes can cost anywhere from $375 for an internal combustion engine to $8000 for a jet with a turbine engine. With engines and a full tank of fuel, some planes can weigh as much as 50 pounds.“You get one of those in the wrong direction and you can do a lot of damage,” Mosbrooker said.“I know all the love and time and energy my husband puts into it and to see them crash, ahhhh!” Michael’s wife Helen said. "

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