Thousands are expected to converge at the Hamburg Recreation Center fields this weekend to watch model aircrafts take to the skies.
On Saturday, Aug. 4 and Sunday, Aug. 5, the Flying Knights of Hamburg will hold its 31st annual Model Aircraft Scale Rally at the Hamburg Recreation Center Model Airport on Lakeview Road.
The event will feature radio controlled model aircraft exhibitions and flying demonstrations, scale replicas up to a third of the size of the real airplane and refreshments.
“This is our biggest event of the year,” said Flying Knights President James Ehrig. “We have modelers from all over Canada, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.” Attendance for the Scale Rally usually reaches over 2,000 spectators.
Crowd favorites include the scale four-engine B-17 and a “flying lawn mower,” which is a push lawn mower that has been made to fly.
“It was a big hit with the kids last year,” said Bill Hauth, associate vice president of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, as well as Flying Knights board member.
Another children’s favorite is the “candy drop,” where one of the larger models drop parachutes with candy attached.
The Scale Rally, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, is free to attend. Proceeds from a voluntary parking donation will help benefit Mercy Flight.
The Flying Knights of Hamburg began in 1962, when a remote-controlled model airplane was first flown in a bean field in the Boston Valley area. Over the past 50 years, the non-profit club has been dedicated to promoting and flying radio-controlled model aircrafts, following the rules and regulations set by the Academy of Model Aeronautics.
Hauth believes that this hobby is perfect for not only those interested in flight, but for people eager to widen their array of knowledge.
“There is quite a bit to learn,” said Hauth. “You learn about aerodynamics, mechanics and electronics.
“Also, its very rewarding to see something you put together actually fly.”
These models should not be confused for a toy. The radio-controlled aircrafts operate essentially the same as a full-sized plane would.
“It’s actually a real aircraft, other than you are not in it. It flies on the same principles that a real airplane does,” Hauth said.
Constructing a model aircraft can cost anywhere from $100 to over $1,000, depending on how detailed of a plane one wishes to build. “You can build anything from a basic trainer to a turbo jet engine,” Hauth said.
For those less interested in the building aspect, Ehrig said the hobby has come a long way.
“They have models that are basically put together, and you just add the electrical components and the engine,” said Ehrig, who added that if you plan to build from scratch, it would likely be a “whole winter project.”
While members of the Flying Knights of Hamburg range in age from 4-years-old to over 80, Ehrig said the club is currently pushing to add more young members.
The club meets every three weeks and hold events throughout the year such as fun flies, combat flies, an auction and an annual show at the McKinley Mall.
“We are a very close-knit group,” said Ehrig, who added that in addition to Flying Knights’ events, the members enjoy weekend camping trips and attend other shows in the Western New York area together.
For those interested in building and flying model aircrafts, the Flying Knights of Hamburg are eager to help through advice and training. Yet those who join should be forewarned that they might gain a true passion for the hobby as well as lifelong friendships.
“This is not just a ‘once in a while thing,’ said Ehrig. “This is a lifestyle.”
For more information, visit the club’s website at www.theflyingknights.com.