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Group's fly-in to be soar point

Members of one Hernando County club will be flying high this weekend _ or at least their model airplanes will be.

The Hernando County Radio Control Club, a group of enthusiasts committed to building, and then flying, large model airplanes, will have its second annual Big Bird Fly-In at a field just east of Masaryktown.

"They're what we call "big birds,' " said club president Cliff Manspeaker, who has three of the large models, including the Pumpkin, a bright orange high-wing Piper Cub with an 80-inch wingspan.

Most models are in the 12- to 25-pound range with small gasoline or engine fuel motors. Single-wing planes have at least an 80-inch wingspan, and bi-wing models have spans of at least 60 inches, Manspeaker said.

Like many of the group's 100 members, Manspeaker said, his passion for the big birds started when he was much younger.

"When I was 10, my uncle built me a rubber-band-powered plane," said Manspeaker who, 60 years later, now helps younger members learn how to build and pilot model planes. "I couldn't qualify to be a private pilot, so this is the next best thing. Besides, you can always walk away from your crashes."

Events such as this weekend's fly-in give newcomers a chance to check out the club and what it has to offer, said Manspeaker. Many times, people are drawn by the sight of planes converging over the club's field.

"Generally, each time we have these events we pick up new members because they're curious," he said. "And that's good because we just love to show our planes off."

_ Joy Davis-Platt can be reached at 848-1435. Send e-mail to joysptimes.com.

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