Family album SUNDAY, JUNE 18,2006 NOR'WESTER THE HAYS DAILY NEWS Jeff Blanton, Wichita, guides his plane over what's described as "one of the premier sites in the country" for remote control plane flying near Lake Wilson. ST0RY BY WILL MANLY son of Robert Manly PHOTOS BY JAMIE ROPER son of James Roper ILSON LAKE-Alden Shipp and Kent Pyle could be fishing. They wear sunglasses and hats. They sit in lawn chairs. They are at ease in one of their favorite hobbies. The miniature airplanes flying above their heads — by remote control — are all that separate Shipp, Lucas, and Pyle, Clinton, Mo., from the folks out for a day for the walleyes. These guys, along with about 50 others from across the country, were getting ready for the 13th annual Wings Over Wilson remote control glider competition that took place June 9 to 11. These gliders are launched by hand — similar to how a paper airplane is launched — into the wind from the top of a hill. Wilson Lake has treeless hilltops, soft grass to land on, steady wind and a cooperative local Army Corps of Engineers. Together, that creates "one of the premier sites in the country" for remote control glider plane flying, said Mike Bailey, Wichita. Nick Stong, Boulder, Colo., said he travels from the Rocky Mountains to the Lake Wilson area about once a month. The Rockies, he said, produce wind that is gusty and unpredictable. The steady breeze coming off Lake Wilson is much easier to navigate. The competitions at the Wings over Wilson event include pylon races and combat — what else would a group of pilots think of? In the combat contest, 15 or 20 pilots will square off, trying to collide with other planes and knock them out of the sky. After a crash, if the "surviving" pilot can demonstrate an acrobatic maneuver to show that he is still in contrpl of his aircraft, he gets credit for a kill. Whomever has the most kills at the end wins. "No matter what anybody tells you, there's more accidental contact than anything," Pyle said. "The collisions take luck," Shipp said. "Recovering takes skill." In pylon racing, markers are placed 100 meters apart on the hUl, and pilots race around them. They usually go five laps, and some of the aircraft can reach more than 120 miles per hour. One of the most important skills to racing is gaining altitude, Shipp said. The planes are fastest when they're flying downward, and pilots have a limited amount of time before the race begins to get as high as they can. Shipp said the glider planes are cheaper than motorized planes because they don't require maintenance or fuel. They're so easy to handle, he said, that sometimes he takes his plane out for just a few hours when he has a free morning. "All you've got to take is your airplane," he said. "Just throw it off a hill." Bailey is president of the Wings Over Wilson Club, which was formed two years ago when the Lincoln, Neb., Area Soaring Society decided to stop sponsoring the Wilson competition. Members didn't want to let the contest die so they banded together and ran it themselves. The organization is chartered by the Association of Model Aviation. "Most of the guys are avid airplane guys," Bailey said. "A couple of these guys fly real airplanes and real gliders. Some of the local guys may come out once or twice a week. Most of the guys will have gliders, electrics. Some guys will have gas-powered airplanes, helicopters. There's all sorts of stuff we get into." And when they get into it, they really get into it. Stong and Shipp each own more than 30 model and full-sized aircraft. "I looked in my garage and said to myself 'Nick, you've got $20,000 worth of model airplanes. You should go buy the real thing,'" Stong said. "So I went and bought a real plane. And I'm still gliding." Reporter Will Manly can be reached at (785) 628-1081, ext. 138, or by e-mail at wmanlyOdallynewa.net. ABOVE: Gliders crisscross the sky over Lake Wilson. BELOW: Wings Over Wilson Club president Mike Bailey inserts a radio receiver into a glider with a wing span measuring 4 meters anojhtr hi pylon rising «id combat competition.
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