Wings for a Wish

Farragut State Park event to benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation

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Tommy Valcore affixes the wing on his 1/6th scale, remote control P-51 Mustang as he prepares it for a flight Friday at Farragut State Park.

FARRAGUT STATE PARK - Actual birds, only smaller, but they can soar over tree tops just the same.

Up to 100 radio controlled airplanes will be buzzing over Farragut State Park this weekend to raise money for Make-A-Wish Foundation, the first gathering of the model aviation sorts in North Idaho.

No, there isn't room for a real-life pilot aboard, but make no mistake, the flyers are carbon copies of the real McCoys.

"These are real planes that are still alive today," said Tommy Valcore, helping put on the flying spectacle through the group Tobacco Valley Flyers. "They're actual birds."

Thousands of dollars and hours can go into building the detailed models. Wing spans stretch to 9 or 10 feet, while planes can clock more than 100 miles per hour in flight.

Stinger VII, one of Valcore's models, is a P-51 Mustang which had 12 kills in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Modeled after individual planes, some are even constructed to scale.

And when they converge this weekend, it'll launch the inaugural War Birds Over Lake Pend Orielle.

"It gives us a chance to get models together from across the Northwest," said Tim McGee, event organizer, who is expecting to see planes from as far away as Canada and Oregon.

More than that, proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation of Idaho, which gives terminally ill children a chance to fulfill their wishes. Today, four Make-A-Wish children will be at the event to watch the planes fly, and maybe get to do a little flying themselves.

Planes can fly around a 5-mile radius from the controller. The art of flying can be tricky to learn, though, with takeoff and landing being the most challenging aspects to navigate.

"They are very fragile," Valcore said of harming the models with too tough a touch down. "They aren't as tough as the old war birds were."

The event runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Monday. Raffles and silent auction items will be on hand, as will food vendors. Camping spots are available for $15. Landing fee for flyers entering the show is $30.

Tim McGee points out the differences between various models of remote control planes.


Propellers for remote control planes hang from the door of a trailer used for transporting the hobby pieces.

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