Saturday, July 4, and part of Sunday, July 5, the skies over Iroquois Airport were alive with the sights and the sounds of jet planes.
Model jet planes, that is.
The two day event, called Jets Over Iroquois, was organized by the Ottawa Remote Control Club. This club is made up of some 150 model enthusiasts from in and around the Ottawa area, and regularly holds open flying sessions at suitable airports. This year, the site chosen for the July show was Iroquois.
“We had an awesome response to this first time ever flying event,” said Deborah Park, registrar for the show. “Thirty plus jet pilots registered with us. Most of these pilots come to a show like this with 2-4 model planes.”
Pilot/ jet model enthusiasts came from the Cornwall Club, and also from London, Kingston, Montreal and several places in the United States.
South Dundas residents were able to take in the flying exhibitions absolutely free of charge, and, judging from the Saturday crowds, many came out to enjoy the sights and sounds of the superbly crafted jet planes. Several pilots talked to visitors, explaining their air craft and the appeal of model planes.
Ken Park, the events director for the show, was exceptionally pleased with the facilities made available to the model plane enthusiasts.
“We had made use of the Air Force base at the Bay of Quinte,” he explained, “but the Afghanistan training of fighter personnel closed that site. I was looking at google maps, seeking a good site with a paved runway when I came across Iroquois.”
He promptly contacted airport manager John Ross, and in November 2014, came down to look at the facilities. Following a successful application to the South Dundas Council, Jets Over Iroquois became official.
“We are loving this community,” Park said. “This is a great runway, lots of room for pilots, planes and spectators and a lot of friendly support. The (Iroquois-Matilda) Lions are here serving up food. This event is strictly jet planes, but we are talking of coming back and perhaps bringing World War II models or aerobatic planes.”
For the two days the model show was in town, the Iroquois Airport was marked closed (NOTAM) to regular aircraft.
Several of the pilots shared their experiences with model planes.
Jeff Lynds came up from Columbia, Connecticut, to pilot his model of a Canadian Snowbird jet.
“Why a Snowbird? I saw the Snowbirds (Canada’s precision flying team) put on an airshow, and I really enjoyed them.” Lynds explained. “My ‘Snowbird’ is almost 1/4 scale and carries the Snowbirds’ markings. It also has a smoke system and lights and is powered by a real jet engine. This is my fourth jet. It’s been 20 years since I began building jets, and I have never stopped learning.”
Jeff Daly was also at the event to pilot his F 18 Phantom Jet, which is eight feet long and weighs 50 pounds with fuel on board. “Like all jet models, it has a jet engine, and uses real jet fuel,” Daly said. “My engine has 50 pounds of thrust. This plane is fairly new, so I have to say I’m still breaking it in. It takes about 200 hours of work to assemble a model like this, do the connections and install the engine.”
Incidentally, Daly is an R.C.A.F. engineer in real life. He spends his working time with planes, and his leisure time with model planes, he explained.
Ken Park pointed out that handling the jet models is “the high end of this kind of flying. People must learn, often over five years or more, how to be good pilots. Simulators are very helpful in this.”
Model planes range in size and weight, from 5-6 pounds up to 50. Generally, jet models have two types of engines, the turbine which burns kerosene and the electric ducted fan, which employs a lot of little propellers. They usually fly at around 100 mph, although some models can make 200 mph.
Michael Cafferky of the Cornwall Aero Modellers Club, (this club assisted Ottawa in the Iroquois event), maintains that building and flying model planes is an activity which can involve the entire family.
“It does take a lot of skill to operate the controls on these planes,” he said. “Flying clubs have actual instructors and seasoned pilots as members, so it is probably better to learn in a club. But flying model planes is something that is fun and really interesting.”