A patriotic tribute to military veterans will open the 39th annual Rogue Eagles RC Club's Air Show this weekend.
"The National Anthem will be sung as a radio-controlled model airplane flies overhead pulling an American flag," says Larry Cogdell, the club's public relations officer. "That will be followed by our Patriotic Flight, with six pilots taking off at one time."
These pilots stay on the ground and use battery-powered transmitters to fly their fuel-powered or electric model airplanes. These smaller replicas, some of World War I or World War II planes, leave the ground the same way any airplane does: They speed along a runway until their wings generate enough lift — the upward force that overcomes the plane's weight and holds it in the air.
"Most of our airplanes are scale models of real aircraft such as the American Super Decathlon, Super Sportster and Russian Yak-54," Cogdell says. "Some of them are so realistic. We have what we call radial engines that mimic World War II engines. They sound totally real because they are totally real. They're just small."
Twenty-six different flight acts will be presented along the club's landing strip, a runway 60 feet wide and 600 feet long at Agate Skyways. The two-hour shows will be at noon Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 25-26. Gates open at 11 a.m. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.
"When the club decided to make the air show a charity event, it chose to not ask for admission," Cogdell says. "We ask visitors to consider a $5 donation, and we give 100 percent of that to Asante's Children's Miracle Network. All of the money goes directly to local children's programs."
To get there, travel northeast on Highway 62 and turn right on Highway 140. Drive 3½ miles to East Antelope Road, turn right and drive one mile, then turn right into Agate Skyways' entrance.
Look for pilots performing radio-controlled maneuvers such as loops, inverted flying, knife-edge passes, rolls and the more sophisticated Harrier maneuver, or hover, with their aircraft. Flying heroes Superman, Batman and Skeletor — the latter a custom flyer built by a club member — also will take to the air.
"The superheroes are 6 feet tall and look like a person flying in the air," Cogdell says. "It freaks out a lot of people."
Another act, Things That Shouldn't Fly, will include a flying lawnmower and Snoopy in his flying doghouse. World War I flying ace Snoopy will be on the lookout to do battle with the Red Baron.
Visitors can test their skills flying a remote-control flight simulator aircraft. There will be a raffle for fine-art prints, remote-control aircraft and other prizes. Tickets can be purchased at Al's Cycle & Hobby in Medford or at the shows.
Food and drinks will be available from Victory Dogs food stand and Mahalo Shaved Ice.
At the end of the show, kids will be treated to candy dropped from club president Bruce Tharpe's airplane to the landing strip below.
Cogdell's specialty — electric radio-controlled airplanes — will be another highlight of the show.
"Electric radio-control is fairly new technology," he says. "It's powered by batteries, sometimes multiple batteries. Obviously, the bigger the aircraft, the bigger the battery. The battery is powering an electric motor attached to a propeller. Unlike gas-powered airplanes, the electrics are silent except for the noise the propeller makes. There is no motor noise.
"There will be a large T-28 Trojan Trainer and an Extra 300, a highly maneuverable aircraft," he says. "I'll fly an electric-powered jet, my Avanti, at the show. It flies 110 miles per hour. I'll also demonstrate newer technology such as quadcopters, or drones, along with model gliders."
Cogdell served eight years in the Air Force as a computer technician. He was based for three years at Wasserkuppe radar station in Germany. Between the first and second world wars, advances in sailplane development took place there. Gliding clubs and light aircraft pilots still use the airfield.
Rogue Eagles is one of the oldest radio-controlled flying clubs in Oregon. It began with three members in 1965 and made its home in 1975 on property leased from Jackson County Parks.
"At that time, there was nothing there. Some asphalt had sort of made a runway for 40 years, but it was in a state of severe disrepair. Part of the lease agreement is to add improvements to the property and maintain it. We've put in nice bathrooms, bleachers, a covered picnic area and shaded parking for RC airplanes," Cogdell says.
He became fundraising chairman for the club about six years ago, he says. Starting with a small grant from the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the club hosted raffles, parties, potlucks and auctions to save enough money to put in the new runway about two years ago.
"We hold events there year round," Cogdell says. "And the facility and field are available 24/7 to members."
Rogue Eagles RC Club is one of 2,500 chartered around the country by the Academy of Model Aeronautics. The regional club has about 150 members.
"The real benefit of the club is that we have members who are experts in model aviation, power plants, gasoline engines, fliers that run on nitro-methane and newer technology.
It's the type of knowledge that enthusiasts can't find in a hobby store.
All Rogue Eagles members join the Academy of Model Aeronautics, and both organizations encourage teens to participate, so ages 18 and younger can join for free.
Crater High School student Tim Agee, 16, joined Rogue Eagles when he was 12.
"His skill level of maneuvering aircraft far exceeds the average radio-control pilot," Cogdell says.
Agee won first place in 2015 and 2016 at the Northwest Pacific Coast's International Miniature Aerobatic Club competition. He won second place in 2015 and 2016 in the Rogue Eagles' pattern-flying competition.