by Maddy Matthews
For the past 19 years, spectators have come to enjoy the Fly Over Niagara Remote Control Airshow. Hosted by The Wing and Rotor Flying Club of WNY, this event started as a way for remote control airplane enthusiasts to do what they love and for the public to understand the skill of this hobby.
This airshow may not be a "Blue Angels" show, but the excitement it inspires is shocking. Wing and Rotor Flying Club member Jim Kropelin, M.D., recalls more than 100 spectators in past years. "They filled the bleachers," he said.
This year, FONRA will be held on July 20 and 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Reservoir State Park on Military Road in the towns of Niagara and Lewiston.
Nimble-fingered pilots come from all over to fly their scaled-down aircraft against one another. Participants not only come from places such as Youngstown, Grand Island and Amherst, but also from places as far away as Rochester, Pennsylvania and Ontario.
For many of these flyers, remote control airplanes are their favorite hobby. Kropelin says there is a small group of flyers who demonstrate with miniature helicopters for companies that make helicopters, but that for most pilots it's just something they love to do.
There are about 30 flyers participating this year. They will fly a variety of remote control planes, including fixed-wing airplanes, sailplanes and helicopters.
These planes move surprisingly fast, streaking through the air at high speeds around each other. Remote control planes shouldn't be considered as toys; these pieces of machinery take skill and focus to operate correctly, and it is because of this that this show never fails to amuse and excite.
Spectators can expect to see incredible showings of aerobatics performed by planes that can have wingspans of about 50 to 70 inches across. However, the planes vary greatly in size from the diminutive to downright imposing.
Guests who come to enjoy this event are advised to bring lawn chairs (there are no longer bleachers at the park), and sunscreen, but not to worry about refreshments. Those will be available to guests at the show.