Scale model jets, warbirds, stunt planes and more will take to the sky this weekend in Cape Coral during the 19th Annual Gathering of the Giants.
Hosted by the Cape Coral R/Seahawks, the event will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Sunday at Seahawk Air Park, at 1030 N.W. 28th St. It is free and open to the public, but the club does ask for a $5 donation for parking.
"It's primarily for the people. It's the club's way of thanking the people for letting us use the city park," Ed Gamils, the president of the club, said.
"It's a real economical way to entertain the family for a day," Gamils added.
Every year, approximately 4,000 spectators show up over the two days.
"That's pretty much what we get," he said.
Pilots can register day of for a $20 fee. Gamils estimated that there were about 70 pilots who participated last year, with approximately 80 planes.
"Some of the pilots bring more than one plane," he said.
"We had a flying lawn mower out there one year," Gamils said.
The planes have included scale, sport, aerobatic and others. According to Gamils, the radio controlled aircrafts have an 18-inch wingspan on up.
"I think the primary thing is it's called the Gathering of the Giants because they're large airplanes," he said. "These are giant scale airplanes."
To register to participate, people must be a pilot, an AMA member and insured. The event is an AMA sanctioned event; giant airplane rules apply.
There is a 600 by 60 paved runway and a 700 by 50 grass runway.
"They have the opportunity to win prizes and stuff that we give out from drawings and stuff like that," Gamils said of the registered pilots.
This year, a radio controlled plane worth about $400 will be given away.
Plaques also will be awarded, including Best Pilot, Best Looking Civilian Plane, Best Looking Military Plane and Best of Show. A panel of judges will decide.
The club has brought in pilot Mac Hodge and his giant B-29, which airborne launches a Bell X-1 rocket plane, for the event. The B-29 is a 16-foot scale.
"He is a very very experienced pilot," Gamils said, adding that the B-29 is "big and impressive."
"As he's flying through the air, they launch the rocket place from the big plane," he said. "The rocket plane is mounted underneath the B-29."
There is a surprise today and Sunday for children during lunch.
"We take one of our larger planes and drop candy for the kids," Gamils said.
In case of an emergency at the event, the club does have a "fire truck" on hand - a golf cart modified to carry approximately 100 gallons of water.
"If there is an accident, which we don't typically have, then we're prepared," Gamils said. "We're very safety conscious."
The $5 is collected for parking to help with the park's upkeep.
"The city does not finance that park out there," he said of Seahawk Air Park. "They donate the land to us, but we maintain everything."
Last year, the event raised about $4,000 to $4,500.
"We use it to maintain the field during the year," Gamils said, adding that runway maintenance, lawn mowing and other costs are covered by the funds.
For more information on the event, visit: www.rseahawks.org.
The Cape Coral R/Seahawks has about 300 members.
It meets on the third Thursday of every month at the Gulf Coast Village Retirement Community, at 1333 Santa Barbara Blvd. Presentations at 7 p.m.; meeting is at 7:30 p.m.