I made it to Florida Jets 2014, and let me tell you it has changed from the last time I attended! I drove in to the parking area and was greeted by a wonderful woman that put a smile on my face. I paid my fee that covered the parking, entry fee and a ticket for a raffle. I’ll start of by saying…the weather was amazing!
Florida Jets is located at the same airport in Lakeland, Florida where they hold the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) second largest full scale fly-in, Sun N Fun. I was quite amazed at how large of an event Florida Jets has become. I hadn’t been to Florida Jets in many years and now it’s grown in attendance, pilots, jets and vendors.
OK, the last time I went they were flying ducted fans. I was in awe of the vendors, food and the great field for the pilots to fly from. The first thing I noticed was the access to the pilots. You could see the jets up close and speak with the pilots. I recall other events where the planes and pilots were behind a fence and you couldn’t get close at all to admire the amazing detailed work.
After walking from the parking area I was met with the sweet smell of jet fuel. I looked up and I counted 5 jets in the air. These jets weren’t your local hobby shop jets, oh no, these were the big boys jets. They were fast, loud, big and expensive.
Most of the time there were scale jets in the air but any jet or turbo prop was invited. And believe me, these guys were great pilots as well. I remember my father always saying, “There are guys that build and there are guys that fly, but few that can build and fly.” Well these must be the few, because these RC planes were drop dead gorgeous and they were flying the wheel pants off those jets!
Best part was, there was little to no down time. There were always aircraft in the air, and when there weren’t any jets in the air it was because they were preparing for another event.
Saturday afternoon they pulled out three huge bundles of balloons and took them to the outfield and slowly released them. At the same time they had a group of electric planes of all types take off and the pilots tried their best at popping the
balloons. I think maybe two got popped, out of almost a hundred. It was pretty fun to watch. One pilot got so involved in chasing the balloons he almost forgot how close he was to the ground and pulled up at the last second.
Imperial RC Club, located in Mulberry, Florida is the host club for this event and Top Gun. They help Frank Tiano handle the event workings like the parking and the flight line. They do a great job and every one that I ran into (like the parking lady) were very friendly and helpful.
I didn’t go to the event stricttly for Model Airplane News, I went for my own enjoyment so I didn’t have any special access. I had a great time, saw some incredible flying and even more incredible jets. Even sitting with the crowd I got great photos, saw every jet I wanted to see and was filled in with what was going on by the event announcer John Burdin.
If you love Radio Control aviation, then any event Frank Tiano puts together will keep you very entertained. Watch his website, www.franktiano.com, to find the dates of his upcoming events and make the time to go and be entertained. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!