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R/C jet pilots take hobby to new heights

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Flying aces with the Area 52 group held an event June 9 at Twin County Regional Airport

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

Area 52 members out of Max Meadows took a test flight at Twin County Airport during the Virginia Jets event on June 9.
More than 20 pilots took advantage of the runway at the general aviation airport to launch their aircraft.
Area 52, with some members hailing from the Twin Counties, sponsored the weekend of fun for radio control model enthusiasts who fly miniature versions of jets.

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Being able to use the facility attracted participants from Raleigh and Charlotte in North Carolina; Chantilly, W.Va.; Ohio; Pennsylvania and Tennessee, organizer Bill Jarrett said.
“Jet guys love pavement,” he explained. “As opposed to flying off of grass. It’s less wear and tear.”
(The airport had an “air boss” to monitor radio traffic in case a full-sized plane came in for a landing. They could clear the skies and the runway of the models.)
Many RC enthusiasts fly both jet and prop models, but organizers limited the weekend in Carroll County to jets only. Jarrett said that, as far as he knows, it’s the only jet event to be held in Virginia.
Though the models are smaller and the pilots gaze skyward from the ground, some planes had the ability to fly at 200 mph or more.
Typically, three pilots would fly at once. They performed many of the same aerial routines as full-sized jets.
And Area 52 member Jim Murphy said that some RC hobbyists invest as much as $20,000 in their aircraft.
This could become an annual event, Jarrett said.
This year, they started off purposely small because Area 52 is a small club and it takes more people to hold larger events.
He thanked the Twin County Airport for its cooperation, as well as the Woodlawn Ruritan Club for serving concessions.
Area 52 member Stuart Higley said several hundred spectators came out to the event, including airport commission members.
“All of the feedback was extremely positive,” he said.