Radio-controlled helicopters were in the air by the dozens Saturday at Earl Thomas Conley Park on U.S. 52 in West Portsmouth.
“We're just a bunch of good old boys just sitting around having a good time,” said Hank Kettler, of South Salem, who brought four helicopters with him. “Each one costs anywhere from $700 to $800 to several thousand dollars.”
Kettler said the helicopters run on 30 percent nitro fuel. Smoke pours out of the back of the choppers as they go through loops, twists and turns, take-offs and landings.
“Flying time is a premium with me, I don't get to fly all the time,” he said.
Travis Mertz, of Danville, Ky., said he got into the hobby about three years ago.
“I have flown airplanes since I was probably about eight, so I just progressed into helicopters,” Mertz said.
Most of the day was dedicated to just having fun, thus the name Helicopter Fun Fly. But there was a little friendly competition involved, too.
“We have a target out there in the middle of the field, and it's just going to be for accuracy,” said Rex Sanders, secretary of the Southern Ohio Radio Controlled Flyers Association. “They'll get three attempts, and we'll measure the distances from the nose to the center of the target, and whoever is the closest will get a $25 cash prize.”
Bob Gibson was in charge of keeping track of the copters.
“We have 18 pilots flying with us today, and most of them have two or three helicopters with them, so we have probably 60 or 70 some helicopters today,” he said.
Fliers came from a lot of different areas to attend the Fun Fly.
“It's a good field. We've got people from Pikeville, Ky., Athens, Ohio, Lancaster, Ohio, Georgetown, Ky., Morehead, Ky., and Columbus, Ohio,” Sanders said. “We've got people from all over.”
Brandon Crosier, of Jackson, brought four copters with him, and took the time to explain the various models.
“Size, and complexity. The bigger ones cost more, and are a little bit more expensive to fix,” he said. “The smaller ones are sometimes more fun to fly because there's less risk involved. There's different brands, like Ford and Chevy and Dodge.”
Crosier said learning to put a radio-controlled helicopter through its paces sometimes results in crashes.
“To get to that level you have numerous crashes,” he said. “But also there's a simulator program you can get on your computer, and you can practice at home with the same controller, and that's extremely helpful in learning aerobatics.”
Sanders said Saturday's was the third-annual Helicopter Fun Fly, and the club is planning on continuing to do it each year. He said the schedule is posted on an Internet messageboard, which is how fliers know when and where the event is taking place.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.