Remote control airshow: ‘Gathering of the Giants’ this weekend
A private “air force” of more than 70 pilots will “invade” Cape Coral this weekend for the 22nd annual Gathering of the Giants at Seahawks Park in Northwest Cape.
Remote control planes with wingspans from 60 inches to more than 10 feet will fly over the park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission for spectators, as always, is free though the Cape Coral R/Sea Hawks Club asks for a voluntary donation for parking. Local Boy Scout units benefit from the donation in exchange for attending the parking lot.
The largest plane ever to fly at Seahawks Park during a Gathering was a B-29 Bomber with a 20-foot wingspan flown by Mac Hodge of Georgia. Hodge subsequently crashed the plane at another show and decided not to rebuild it at a cost of $75,000.
Pilots from all over Florida and many other states participate in the event each year.
“Fifty percent of our club members are snowbirds,” said R/Sea Hawk Club spokesman Dick Maltby. “That’s part of why we hold the event in March, when those people are here. It’s also easier for the spectators because it is not so hot as it tends to rain more in the summer.”
Guests will enjoy watching World War-era warbirds fly over the park, at 1030 NW 28th St., as well as single wing planes, modern day jets, bi-planes and large high-wing planes, and helicopters. Most are gasoline or turbine powered with a few using electric power.
Food and refreshments will be available for purchase, including Greek items and Louisiana Gumbo plus traditional hamburgers, hot dogs and shaved ice for the kids. Spectators are not restricted in bringing lawn chairs, coolers, blankets or other items, such as strollers.
“There will be a lot of flying going on,” said Maltby. “At noon each day we drop 10 pounds of candy from the sky for the kids to gather. This year I think the mayor will press the button to drop the candy. It’s also a time for spectators to mingle with the pilots for information and to see the planes up close. Some even wind up taking up the sport and join the club.”
One special guest, Argentinian-born former World Champion RC pilot Quique Somenzini, who now lives in Venice, will participate in this weekend’s fly-in. One of the top RC pilots in the world and Argentina’s 21-time national champion, Somenzini will bring some of his plane designs for sale.
One lucky spectator will walk away with a replica Piper Cub plane with a 9-foot wingspan, valued at $2,000, to be given away at 3 p.m. Sunday. The winner need not be present to win.
“We’ve been selling $1 tickets at the Farmer’s Market for awhile,” said Maltby. “Frankly, I would like to win that plane, too.”
Gathering of the Giants is the largest fundraising event the R/Sea Hawks Club puts on each year. Besides the club benefiting from the proceeds, the Boy Scouts and the Mayor’s Scholarship Fund receive donations.
“The park is a city park specific for RC flying,” said Maltby. “We fund the facility and maintain it with no help from the city, other than them mowing the grass on occasion. We put down the (60×600 feet) paved runway, walkways and sheds.”
The city does provide two sets of portable bleachers for the event that typically attracts as many as 5,000 spectators over the two days.
For more information visit www.rseahawks.org.