|Florida's Top Gun Show Moved To A New Site!|
Greetings from the Colonies!
After doing a brief article covering last spring's Top Gun, I asked Flying Sites Editor, Peter Dennis if he would like a report on a 'typical' IMAA (Big Bird) Fly-In here in the Colonies. He said yes, so here we go.
The event was the "Seventh Annual End of Summer IMAA Fly-In" hosted by the Ocala Flying Model Club. There were two problems with this event; the first is that the end of August is definitely not the end of summer here in North-Central Florida (Ocala is about an hour north of Orlando). The weather was perfect in that it was near calm both days with clear blue skies punctuated with only a few puffy csumulus. However, it was hot -- 96°F (35.5°C)!
The other problem is a result of the old saying "Build it and they will come". (Ah, 'Field of Dreams' - my favourite film! Ed.) A little background info is in order. The OFMC was displaced from their former high class flying site two years ago and forced to start anew on building a flying field. Build it they did! For starters, they have a 600' x 60' paved runway, an adjacent 1,000' grass runway, and many acres of unobstructed overfly area that is well suited for off field excursions, should they become necessary.
For facilities, they have two covered pavilions as well as a cook shack which is located amongst some large oaks for leisurely 'gourmet dining' in the comfort of shade. This area is slightly higher than the runway, so a good view of the activities is still had by all. The problem is that the word got out -- In my opinion, this is indeed the best all around club flying site in Florida. What used to be a rather "typical" Fly-In has turned into a premier event!
Those with campers started arriving as early as Thursday. By noon of Saturday, the first official day of the event, the registration crews had processed 96 pilots as the safety inspectors looked at over 200 models. This abnormally large turnout really strained the pilot parking and pit areas (already 800 feet long), so the grounds crew was called into action mowing more tent/pit area. That was a good thing, as even more showed up Sunday for a total registration of 103 pilots with 237 models! Recall that this was 'just' a Fly-In with no competition whatsoever.
The variety of models on hand was spread through the spectrum, ranging from pre-world war one to a turbine powered L-1011. Scale models on hand represented WW1 types, Golden Era, W.W.II, Post War civilian, Korean War, and up to modern times with both Military and Aerobatic aircraft. On hand also were the non-scale models that always show up for fun as well as a few turbine powered sport models.
Multi engine models included a DC-3, a B-25, a P-38, a C-130, and a veteran B-17 with over 200 flights logged! The B-17 was given the spectator's choice award.
No one group dominated, but I'd say there were more W.W.II Warbirds than any one category. Sad to say, but not one Spitfire appeared, though there was one token DH Tiger Moth representing the UK. Oddly, there was only one Cub on hand as well, usually there are several.
Three flight lines were in operation all day, and were run so smoothly that there was seldom a wait of more than 15 minutes. The 3-D pilots were well disciplined and did not interfere with the designated flight pattern.
During the lunch break, a gaggle of Warbirds was organised. There were about 15 of these great models in the air at one time, safely flying a rather large race track pattern.
An Honour Guard of Vets presented the colours each day. The cook shack, called the Refuelling Station, was manned by "The Fly Girls", those hard working ladies of the club members; they also had a bake sale in progress. Entry fee was only $5 US.
Lastly, this wonderful flying site is located on property belonging to the state of Florida and designated for "recreational use only"; the club holds a twenty year lease with the state; the lease cost to the Ocala Flying Model Club is minimal. I am a member of the OFMC as well as the Flying Gators in Gainesville, an hour north of Ocala.
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