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‘Gathering of the Giants’ R/C air show this weekend

March 10, 2017
Pine Island Eagle

Look up in the sky. It's a bird, no it's a plane. A lot of planes. Radio controlled planes.

That will be the case this weekend around Seahawk Park in Northwest Cape Coral for the 23rd Gathering of the Giants, organized each year by the Cape Coral R/Sea Hawks Club.

The number of pilots bringing planes to fly and demonstrate to the public generally numbers around 50, sometimes more. Planes fly on Saturday from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. and again Sunday from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m.

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"We take a break around noon both days to give people a chance to mingle with the pilots and learn about the planes," said R/Sea Hawks Club president Dick Maltby. "And we fly the candy bomber over the park at that time to drop candy for the kids to pick up."

The familiar festival style food and beverages will be available from vendors, including hot dogs, hamburgers, Giros, salads, shaved ice, mini donuts, and Louisiana gumbo. At least one vendor visits to sell planes and accessories.

A special guest from the U.S. Forest Service will be on hand to teach the public about drones that are used when there are fire dangers.

Maltby suggests guests bring lawn chairs or cushions if they prefer to sit in bleachers provided by the city. Admission is free but the local Boy Scouts will attend the parking lot and accepting voluntary donations.

"If you could make the wind drop a bit that would be very helpful," said Maltby. "The forecast looks very good for the weekend."

The largest plane ever to fly at Seahawk Park during a Gathering was a B-29 Bomber with a 20-foot wingspan belonging to Mac Hodge of Georgia. That plane subsequently crashed a couple of years ago at another show and Hodge did not rebuild it at a cost of $75,000.

Pilots from all over Florida and many other states participate in the event each year with one pilot from Miami bringing a turbine jet plane. RC planes have wingspans from 60 inches to more than 10 feet.

The event is a fundraiser for the club, which makes donations to the Boy Scouts, the Mayor's Scholarship Fund and other charities around town.

On Veterans Day in November, the club holds a similar show featuring a variety of warbirds from the World War era and beyond and makes donations to charities from that event as well.

The park, at 1030 NW 28th St., accommodates World War-era warbirds, single wing planes, modern day jets, bi-planes and large high-wing planes as well as helicopters. Most are gasoline or turbine powered with some electrically powered.

One lucky spectator will go home with a one-fifth scale replica Cessna 188AG "crop duster" with a 30cc Moki gas engine and a wingspan of 98 inches. The winner need not be present to win.

"We've been selling raffle tickets at the Farmer's Market for the last four months," said Maltby.

The Gathering of Giants typically attracts as many as 5,000 spectators over the two days.

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