LIMA — Gary Williams of Lima has been flying radio-controlled airplanes since he was just 12 years old.
“Before I’d been into RC cars a little bit and a friend of my grandparents used to own a hobby shop here in Lima and bowled on the senior citizen league with them up there one summer and he pretty much told me, he says, you know for what you’re going spend on that car you’re looking at, you could buy a model airplane and that’s about all I had to hear. I spent that year on my Christmas vacation building the trainer airplane on my grandparent’s dining room table,” Williams said.
Williams is a member of the LARKS, the Lima Area Radio Kontrol Society, and participated in Saturday’s Big Bird Fly-in at the LARKS Flying Field, 7651 Elida Road.
He brought out an Avanti radio-controlled jet, which has a 2.2-meter wingspan.
“The airplane weighs roughly 37-38 pounds, has a 40-pound thrust turbine on it with top speeds of 185-190 miles an hour,” Williams said.
He’s got around $8,000 invested in the plane.
He says he enjoys the hobby.
“A lot of it’s the friends I have made out here over the years. I’m about 32 years in flying this stuff now and pretty much about everybody in my circle of friends is involved in this hobby,” Williams said.
Bob Hafler drove down from the Grand Rapids, Michigan area to participate in the Big Bird Fly-in Saturday.
“I’ve been doing it for over 40 years now, off and on,” Hafler said.
He was flying a replica of a plane that you might see treating area farm fields.
“This one is a Hangar 9 Pawnee. It’s got a 130-inch wingspan. It’s got a 112 cc for an engine in it and it’s the kind of plane that they use for crop dusting and that sort of thing,” Hafler said.
Ben Burden organized this year’s Big Bird Fly-in.
This was the 23rd year for the event, which is a fund-raiser for the LARKS club. Last year’s event was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“This is our biggest event of the year which helps bring revenue in for the club,” Burden said.
The club meets every Tuesday night at the LARKS Flying Field to give people a chance to try out the hobby.
“We usually call that a training night. So if someone’s just starting, come out Tuesday night and we’ll help them along and get them in the air and keep them going,” Burden said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.