Little wing: Remote-control plane club holding miniature stunt show

Little wing: Remote-control plane club holding miniature stunt show
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Call them model citizens.

The Radio Control Society of Marine Park is launching the second Warbirds over Gerritsen Beach, a high-flying model plane stunt show that will benefit the Gerrittsen Beach Volunteer Fire Department, on June 29. The show began in 2013 as a glorified block party, but it garnered a lot more attention than organizers anticipated, a club member said.

“It wound up taking off beyond our expectations,” said president Mike Palumbo.

The pilots will maneuver their pint-sized planes through formation flights and a simulated dog-fight. To pull off the mock battle, the hobbyists will tie ribbons to their prop planes’ tails and try to buzz off bogeys’ banners.

“Chop it off and the other guy’s considered shot down,” Palumbo said.

Last year, the event raised just over $1,000 for Gerritsen Beach Cares, an organization promoting quality of life on the peninsula. This year, organizers are aiming even higher, with the club raffling off model plane parts, fuel, T-shirts, and even a club membership.

Spectators can kick back and have a hot dog or take up the yoke and try their hand at a little flying, Palumbo said.

The Radio Control Society, which now fields more than 80 members from the tri-state area, has been flying remote-control planes from its Marine Park airfield for more than 50 years, said founding member Harold Hohne. At first the crew launched and landed gas-powered aircraft on a dirt runway. But after the Parks Department paved the runway, the airmen could fly nicer planes without fearing damaging the aircraft on landing, he said.

Interest in the club is soaring too, said Hohne, with membership ballooning to more than 40 pilots in recent years.

“Lately we’re getting a lot of Russian guys who are really super modelers,” said Hohne. “We also have some minorities coming in, which is great.”

The only prerequisite for membership is joining the American Modelists Association, which provides liability insurance for model aircraft pilots, he said.

Warbirds over Gerritsen Beach at the Radio Control Society of Marine Park [Gerritsen Avenue near Seba Avenue in Gerritsen Beach, (347) 668–7542, www.rcsmp.com]. June 29 at 9 am. $5.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Ready for liftoff: Radio Control Society of Marine Park president Pete Maldonado prepares to put one of his models in the air on a sunny afternoon.
Photo by Steve Solomonson