Every weekday you can find the Bay City Flyers Club in what is affectionally known as "Area 52" behind the locked gate at the entrance to Conner Preserve off of State Road 52, where hikers and horse people go to get away. "Area 52" is the playground of the club, a group of 211 people who are dedicated to the art of flying radio controlled airplanes, commonly called R/C planes.
"Area 52" has two 750-foot runways and a covered shelter for the pilots to work on their planes and a place to get out of the heat and tell flying stories. Many of the pilots build their own planes. Joe Cernava took months to construct his P-51 Mustang and has more than $1,000 invested in it.
Anyone can go through the gates of Connor Preserve and enjoy the nature or watch the flying, but it is a long walk to the airfield area. This Saturday and Sunday the gates will be unlocked at 6 a.m. for pilot setup and the field will open to the public as the Bay City Flyers will host an air show attracting more than 50 pilots from across the Southeast. The Bay City Flyers ask for a $3 parking donation for the event. Food and snacks will be available.
For information about Bay City Flyers, the event or joining their club go to www.bay cityflyers.org. Entrance to the field is at 22500 SR 52. The gate to Conner Preserve and "Area 52" is on the south side of the SR 52, about 7 miles west of Interstate 75 exit 285 and 4 miles east of U.S. 41 in Land O'Lakes.
Skip O'Rourke, Times staff