Society

Model plane fly-in takes off

Hundreds see scale aircraft zooming over Fair Park skies

Garry Herrman (L), Freddie Cates, put Herrman’s scale model aircraft through its paces during fly-in at windy Fair Park. Reporter/Mike Brown Garry Herrman (L), Freddie Cates, put Herrman’s scale model aircraft through its paces during fly-in at windy Fair Park. Reporter/Mike Brown If you were outdoors Saturday in Rockdale and heard what sounded like chain saws flying through the spring skies, don’t worry. You did.

Forty-three scale model airplanes buzzed overhead as the first ever Ernie Cates Sr. Memorial Big Bird Fly-In was held in the Fair Park infield.

“They sound a lot like chainsaw motors,” organizer Fred Cates said. “They run on a two-stroke engine and use an oil-based fuel.”

The event drew 43 planes and raised over $2,000 for M. D. Anderson Cancer Research Center, dedicated to Cates’ father, the late Ernie Cates Sr.

North winds

“The f ly-in was very well received,” Cates said. “We’d like to make it an annual event.”

Fly-in organizer Fred Cates works on his plane in the pits. Event raised over $2,000 for cancer research in memory of his late father, Ernie Cates Sr. Fly-in organizer Fred Cates works on his plane in the pits. Event raised over $2,000 for cancer research in memory of his late father, Ernie Cates Sr. Pilots attended from as far away as Grand Junction, Colorado, and Shreveport, Louisiana.

A come-and-go crowd estimated at more than 300 attended.

About the only thing which wasn’t perfect was the changing Texas weather which delivered a cold front, with stiff north breezes, overnight Friday.

“On top of that, it was a crosswind,” Cates said. “There would probably have been a whole lot more f lying if the wind hadn’t picked up like it did.”

Cates said only two planes were allowed in the air at the same time.

Scale replicas

First-time powered model plane fans marveled at the replicas and the skill of their pilots.

“Most of what we had here Saturday were 30 to 40-percent scale models,” Cates said. “Of course the size also depends on the size of the plane that’s being duplicated.”

Above, come-and-go crowd estimated at 300 were in and out of Fair Park infield bleachers going through barrel rolls and many other maneuvers. At right, pilot Billy “Memo” Gibbons strolls to the flight line as a plane limbs toward the clouds. Above, come-and-go crowd estimated at 300 were in and out of Fair Park infield bleachers going through barrel rolls and many other maneuvers. At right, pilot Billy “Memo” Gibbons strolls to the flight line as a plane limbs toward the clouds. He said most of the planes being flown Saturday were in the $3,000 to $5,000 price range.

“But the planes we were flying Saturday were more advanced models, not for beginners,” he said. “You can purchase ready to fly planes with radios for around $150 or less, and those are better to learn and train on.”

Cates expressed appreciation to City Councilman Tom Fisher for assisting in getting Fair Park cleaned up and ready for Saturday’s event.


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2010-05-13 digital edition



The burn ban for Milam County has been lifted. Burning is always prohibited in the county's municipalities.


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