Jacksonville PropKickers model airplane club to host spectator event Saturday

By Anthony Engle on May 25 at 11:52am

To kick off Memorial Day weekend, a group of Jacksonville’s friendliest fliers will be joined by fellow enthusiasts for an outdoor viewing of flyable scale airplane models.

The Jacksonville PropKickers are hosting a free fly-in viewing starting the morning of Saturday, May 26th from 9am until sunset. The local flying group has existed in its current form for 35 years, and their origins as a collective of model pilots have been in Jacksonville for over half of a century.

Roger Russell is Event Coordinator and a former President of the Jacksonville PropKickers.

Russell explains why this event is very captivating, and that Propkicker membership is open.

“This is going to be our tenth or eleventh outdoor fly-in. We’ve also had some indoor fly-ins at local colleges and high schools, but this will be probably our tenth or eleventh one outside, at our flying field off Lincoln Avenue. It does not cost anything for spectators to come out and watch. We do have limited parking, but hopefully we can accommodate everyone who wants to come out and learn and see how we fly our model airplanes. We hope that some of the people are interested enough to join the club and get interested in this hobby.”

Russell offers a history of the Jacksonville PropKickers and the evolution of the group.

“The Jacksonville PropKickers were started back in about 1949 with Bob Tendick and David Knight. It’s been going on basically since then, with anywhere from five to twenty members. It was restarted back in 1973, and we’ve had a decent group since 1973, and we’ve flown at different locations.”

The PropKickers understand that many people may want to attempt to fly the model planes themselves, but Russell mentions a parent organization that regulates model airplane flight.

“The AMA is called the Academy of Model Aeronautics, and that’s what you have to belong to. It’s our national organization that supports us in various ways. We will have people from all over Central Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa come to this fly-in and put on a pretty good show. The planes you will see will have wingspans from thirty-six inches all the way to seven or eight feet and maybe even ten-foot wingspans.”

According to Russell, a world-class pilot named Ali Machincy has accepted an invitation from the group to attempt breaking the sound barrier with a quarter-scale model jet.

“This is a model airplane, and it’s a scale sound barrier. It’s completely illegal to break the sound barrier in open air with a full-scale jet, but this will be about a quarter-size scale jet. You’ll just have to come out and see how we’re going to try to break the sound barrier.”

There is a 10 dollar landing fee for any Academy of Model Aeronautics members wishing to bring their models and join the show. The outdoor fly-in will be held at the local AMA approved flying field in South Jacksonville. Head south on Lincoln Road and continue along the path instead of turning right onto South Lincoln. At the end of this path, you will find the flying field.