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By Nick Schrager
Word trickled down through word of mouth and the World Wide Web. It spread like wild fire. Jets Over Kentucky was on. Last week at the Lebanon-Springfield Airport, jet engines roared and remote control planes performed tricks while people exchanged laughs and jokes about their models, experiences and current events.
But that’s only what was visible to the untrained eye. If you looked a bit closer, you’d see all of the people who flew hours on big planes, just so they could fly their little ones.
Carlos Tschen of Guatemala has been flying remote control planes since he was a teenager and he came to Lebanon on July 9 for the first time. In his amount of time flying, he has seen fuel prices for the crafts jump from 60 cents to $4 , $5, and $6 a gallon. According to him, the facility is beautiful and he likes the people who are involved.
“It’s an excellent airport with excellent services, excellent people,” Tschen said, “Very nice people… you have the best country in the world.”
Cesar Quero, of Venezuela likewise thought very highly of the facility “It’s an amazing field,” Quero said.
He and his friend, Juan Baez, also from Venezuela, said they drove to Lebanon after arriving in Florida by plane. They heard about Jets Over Kentucky from friends and said they came because of the good weather and good time.
But it is not just people from South America who came to enjoy the airborne festivities. People from Asia, Canada, and Europe also made their way to Lebanon last week.
Jonathan Smith, from southwest England, came for his fifth time this year and also thought weather in Kentucky was excellent for flying the jets.
“Back home, we would probably get something like this maybe one week in 12 months,” Smith said.
The unique experience, which allows people to unwind with their hobby on a whole different level, can turn into an excursion. In fact, for some like Smith, it is not just one week they are in the country, its two weeks or more.
“It cost me 18 days to this,” he said.
But a price like that is more than worth it to him.
“Lewis [Patton] has put on a pilot friendly meeting. Everything is for us,” Smith said. “We have the weather…. the camaraderie, all the tents are put up for us and we have this nice facility. The Lebanon-Springfield Airport is just an amazing facility.”
According to him, there is another airport in Atlanta, GA which puts on a similar event, but nowhere near as big.
“We may only get 70 guys that go there,” he said.
While he does not spend his entire time in Lebanon, what he enjoys about the community besides the airport are the people. He said it feels good to be provided with such an experience and in return bring business into the community.
“You get to know people and they love it when you come back,” Smith said.
Many people who get hooked on the experience become repeat visitors of Jets Over Kentucky.
Chuck Storryie, of St. Catherines, Ontario said that he and Ali Machinky of London, England said it was not their first time coming to the event.
“We’ve been coming here for the last four years,” Storryie said.
“It’s probably the biggest jet event in the US now,” Machinky said.