‘Giants’ fill the skys over R/Seahawks Park
The 17th annual Gathering of the Giants airshow, which featured radio controlled aircrafts, attracted a larger crowd of all ages during its two day event this year than last.
Seahawks Club Treasurer John Falduti said they typically see a larger crowd on Saturday than on Sunday every year.
“Saturday’s crowd was fantastic,” he said, adding that the event attracted more spectators than the year before for both days. He said it looked like everyone was having a good time and enjoying themselves.
This year, they had 45-50 pilots attend the two-day event to fly their aircrafts.
One of those pilots made a trip from Andersonville, Georgia to fly his B-29 aircraft, which has a 20-foot wing span and weighs 100 pounds, at the Cape Coral R/Seahawks Park Saturday and Sunday. Mac Hodges said his friend built the radio controlled airplane, which takes flight about 50 times a year at different events.
Hodges said he has attended the Cape event for the past three years and enjoys it because of all of the nice people and abundance of spectators.
“The community really supports model airplanes,” Hodges said about Cape Coral, adding that the club has a nice facility.
Like many of the other pilots at the event, Hodges got into the hobby when he was a young boy. He said he currently has six model airplanes, which he does not fly as often as he would like.
“I fly more when I go off to an event,” Hodges said. “It is like a little vacation trip.”
He opened Hodges Hobby in the ’80s, which has a landing strip behind the shop for the enthusiasts who wish to fly in Andersonville.
Many of the Seahawks Club members also attended the event this weekend to see what aircrafts other pilots were flying.
Donald McGillivray said his passion for model airplanes stemmed from a trip to his grandmother’s house in St. Paul, Minn. when he was 9 and he saw a kid playing with a wind up airplane that flew. After paying a visit to the local drug store to purchase his first model airplane 70 years ago, he still continues to surround himself with airplanes. McGillivray said he is trying to downsize his collection, which now consists of 20 planes.
Every Saturday he makes a trip down to the Cape Coral R/Seahawks Air Park to fly his gliders. McGillivray said watchers are always welcome” to come down to the park.
Although he has attended and flown some of his airplanes at the Gathering of Giants, this year he decided to hand out information about the club, which he joined in 1987.
“I have been to all of them and have flown in many of them,” McGillivray said.
The passionate member said he enjoys attending and helping out where he can because he likes to be around those interested in the hobby.
“I enjoy helping people and teaching people how to fly,” he said.
Long-time member Rosemary Sowa also attended on Sunday to help where she could while watching the many different airplanes take flight. She joined the club in the mid ’70s before the park opened . She said they used to fly their radio controlled aircrafts off the side of the streets in north Cape Coral.
“I have been active with the club since its inception,” Sowa said.
Her first encounter with airplanes took place during the ’40s when they were inside of cereal boxes. Now at 80, she currently owns two electric airplanes, two electric helicopters and six gliders.
She said she enjoys the activities the most during the Gathering of the Giants.
“It’s a good get together and you get to see all the planes,” Sowa said.
Gordon Needham attended the event for the first time on Sunday after hearing about the show from one of the pilots who attends every year. He drove to Cape Coral from Miami after he got off of work Sunday morning to attend the event because he “loves the hobby.”
The hobby first sparked an interest when he was 16. Now 53, he said the hobby has changed because he no longer has to build the airplane from scratch, which took anywhere from six months to a year to complete.
“Now you can get a cool plane out of the box with all the bells and whistles for under $500,” Needham said.
He said he wanted to attend the event to come and see something he has never seen before and marvel at the airplanes.
“The things they are doing today, you never dreamt of 15 years ago,” he said about the progress the hobby has made over the years.“It’s an art for some people and a lot of great ideas.”