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Remote control airplanes wow spectators

An object that looked like a lawnmower flew back and forth, seeming to defy the laws of physics, during a remote control model aircraft show that wowed spectators Saturday afternoon.

The spectacle continues from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday during the 39th annual Rogue Eagles RC Club's Air Show at the Agate Skyways air field outside White City. To get there from Medford, travel north on Highway 62 and turn right on Highway 140. Drive 3½ miles to East Antelope Road, turn right and drive one mile, then turn right into Agate Skyways’ entrance. The club has put out signs on Antelope Road to mark the way.

Club members are flying everything from real drones to models of fighter jets to gliders to biplanes — not to mention oddities like the flying lawnmower replica, Snoopy on his flying doghouse, Superman, Batman and Skeletor. An Avanti electric-powered jet reaches 110 miles per hour.

Club member John Parks has been flying the lawnmower for the past five years. Members have crashed and rebuilt the aircraft many times because it's more cumbersome than its streamlined, aerodynamic cousins that replicate real planes.

"Things happen a lot quicker. It's less stable," Parks said, although he noted the lawnmower is a crowd favorite, especially with kids.

Tim Agee was one of the club pilots showing off acrobatic moves as he operated a Yak 54 airplane. The plane flew high into the sky, faked a stall, plummeted toward the ground while spinning, then came out of the nosedive to skim over the runway while flying upside down. Later the plane buzzed the runway while flying sideways.

A flock of propeller-driven gliders went up in the air, swooping and gliding serenely through the air. They were so quiet a turkey vulture drawn to the scene began circling in their midst.

Other planes tethered to the ground with long strings flew in circles, pulling long, fluttering ribbons behind them.

Spectator Dee Robino of Medford came with relatives. She said she was impressed by the diversity of aircraft at the show and the skill of the pilots.

"We were talking about how many years people probably have to practice to be able to do it without hitting one another or bashing their planes in," she said. "They're very, very talented individuals that are a part of this show."

Robino said her favorite part of the show was the National Anthem and honoring of veterans.

Club member and U.S. Air Force veteran Paul Starks was a crew chief on a tanker responsible for refueling military planes. He said it's easy for members to get addicted to model aircraft. He has dozens himself, including about 10 unassembled in boxes plus several sets of plans for more.

With some model replicas measuring up to one-third the size of real aircraft, enthusiasts store their planes in garages, houses and trailers.

"They put them every place they can put them," Starks said.

Spectator Dylan Harper, 11, was drawn to the show after trying out a flight simulator at the Rogue Valley Mall in Medford.

"It's pretty cool. It's interesting," he said while watching the planes.

Admission to the show is free, although donations of $5 per person are encouraged to benefit local children with medical needs through Asante’s Children’s Miracle Network.

The club plays a variety of music during the air show and offers a shaded grandstand. Victory Dogs hot dogs and Mahalo Shaved Ice treats are available for purchase by people who want to enjoy lunch during the show.

For more information about the club, see rogue-eagles.org.

Reach staff reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

A Yak 54 remote plane flies upside down during the annual Rogue Eagles show Saturday. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
Myra Long, 2, of Grants Pass, points to the planes in the sky during the annual Rogue Eagles RC Club Air show at the Agate Skyway Airfield Saturday. [Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch