FORT EDWARD — Less than 25 feet from the ground, experimental aircraft did flybys that created shock and awe moments during the 10th annual FunFly Charity Airshow on Saturday.
The North Country Flying Tigers Model Airplane Club Inc., with the Glens Falls chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, held the aviation event to raise money for Make-A-Wish Northeast New York.
“They came in real low; we can see the whites in their eyes,” Flying Tigers President Bob Lippman said about the flybys.
After the Glens Falls chapter finished its sweeps, model airplane pilots took to the airstrip at 1933 County Route 43. There were many versions of model planes, from electric to gas, each of which had its own power, capabilities, speeds and tricks.
Model airplanes got their start in the 1930s, Lippman said. But flying them goes beyond the entertainment of seeing the dives, swoops and crashes.
“It’s a great way for kids to learn about science, technology, engineering and math,” Lippman said, “and some of our great aeronautical engineers we’ve had in this country over our history started in model aviation, including the Wright brothers (and) including Neil Armstrong.”
Lippman got into model airplanes when his son turned 10 years old. He bought a model plane and flew it with his son in a school yard. His curiosity to learn and do more led him to join the Flying Tigers.
Curtis Winterroll, a resident of Argyle and Long Island, got back into model airplanes when he was in the Army in 1973. He owns his own plane and flies it at his house. At the event, however, he was a spectator.
He said it takes probably thousands of hours to master some of the top-end planes.
“When I was a kid, I flew controlled line planes and watched the big boys flying the fast ones and that’s how I got interested,” Winterroll said.
Many pilots took their model planes for a spin Saturday and there were all kinds of tricks, from flips to rolls. When a hand-eye coordination mistake occurs, though, it isn't a tragedy.
“See,” Lippman began as a plane crashed. “If that was a real plane, that would be a real disaster. With a model plane, you just bring it back and try again.”