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Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it really is a plane

Albert Niessnar, 84, of State College, repairs the receiver on his Calypso glider. Niessnar is one of the oldest living members of the club, joining in 1960 after returning to State College after his graduation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1959.
Albert Niessnar, 84, of State College, repairs the receiver on his Calypso glider. Niessnar is one of the oldest living members of the club, joining in 1960 after returning to State College after his graduation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1959. nthomas@centredaily.com

They come in all shapes and sizes, taking to the air with propellers and jet engines.

For the first time in some years, the State College Radio Control Club invited the public to the Centre Airpark on Sunday for a demonstration of remote-control aerobatics, educating guests about the hobby as well as showing off their flying skills.

“It’s fun for us,” said club President Jon Guizar, of Bellefonte. “We like to show off our hobby and our planes.”

About 100 people showed up for the event, he said, which featured about 15 different area pilots flying about 50 different aircraft. Pilots flew everything from small camera-mounted quad-copter drones to a gas-turbine jet plane flying at about 200 mph.

The annual show had faded away for several years, he said, but the community said they missed it. Sunday’s show hopefully marked a resurrection of the event, he said.

The term “drone” has become somewhat of a buzzword in aviation these days, Guizar said, as much of the public has at least heard of drone flying. By Federal Aviation Administration definition, all remote-controlled planes at the show are considered drones.

“We don’t want (drone) to be a scary word,” Guizar said. “We want to educate the public to what it’s all about — how it can be done safely and have some enjoyment in the process.”

Instructors in the club are more than happy to help out novice fliers, he said. Every year, the club is looking for ways to get new pilots involved.

We want people to do it right, he said. In the past, people would go to the hobby store, buy a plane and try flying it in their backyard, which usually resulted in a crash, damaged property and hard feelings.

This year, he said, the club offered a plane kit to new members. The club will help the new pilot build the plane and offer three months of instruction.

The kit has, so far, been quite popular, he said, as several kids aged 8-15 have taken up the hobby through this method. Instructors can also “buddy box” with a new flier — both the student and the instructor have controllers for the plane. An instructor can get the plane in the air then turn over controls to the student.

“The instructor can recover the plane in case the student gets in trouble and also land it,” he said.

The next big event for the club will come in late August, he said, as pilots from around the northeastern U.S. will come to the airpark to compete in a international miniature aerobatics competition. Guizar also welcomes anyone who is interested in learning more about remote-controlled flying to the airpark, where club pilots can typically be found flying most weekends through October.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews

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