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Randy Desrosiers has made the trip from Waterford, Mich., to attend Jets Over Kentucky nearly every year the event has been held at the Lebanon-Springfield Airport. He’s seen the event grow from around 40 pilots in its first year to more than 200 pilots, making it the largest model jet show in the country.
While he was complimentary of the facility and the quantity and quality of the pilots at the event, there is something else that separates Jets Over Kentucky from similar shows.
“The nicest thing about this event is the atmosphere,” he said.
Bob Violet agreed. Violet, a model jet pilot from Winter Springs, Fla., was attending the show for the third time.
“We like your area, your town, your hospitality,” he said. “It’s the combination of the runway and a small town.”
Once again, the model jet showcase attracted pilots from all over the United States and from as far away as Asia, Europe and South America (see B1 for a related story).
Rod Snyder travelled from Johnson City, Tenn, and he has attended Jets Over Kentucky every year since it began. Snyder has been flying model planes for 25 years.
“As I like to say, this is my golf game,” he said.
The event continues to attract newcomers as well. Lawrence Collie of the Bahamas got his first model jet last year and decided to make his first trip to Kentucky for this year’s show.
“I was told this is the grandest event for jets in the United States,” Collie said. “I didn’t want to miss it.”
Collie’s jet couldn’t be missed either, since it was a little over eight-feet long with an eight-foot wingspan. Collie has been flying model planes since 1991, but he was glad to start flying jets last year.
“It’s the pinnacle of our hobby,” he said.
Carla Wagner, the executive director of the Lebanon Tourist and Convention Commission, said Jets Over Kentucky grows every year as more and more pilots bring more and more planes.
She added that Jets Over Kentucky is just like a full-sized jet show, with the same tricks and aerobatic displays.
“It’s just a smaller scale,” she said.
As the event continues to bring pilots to the area, it’s also attracting hundreds of spectators as well. That included Dale, Daniel and Dennis Kleinheider, who rode their motorcycles from St. Louis, Mo., to take in this year’s event.
“You don’t often have this many planes in one place,” Dennis said.
Tom Chehl and Kathy Levline drove three and a half hours from Fairfield, Ohio, on Saturday.
“We’re just radio-controlled groupies,” Chehl said.
He said they like to follow the model plane events, especially the jet shows.
“This is as close to actual flying jets as you can get,” Chehl said.
As happy as those spectators were just to watch, Joseph Kouzez of McAllen, Texas, was clearly just as pleased, in spite of the angry looking design of the sports jet that he flew Saturday morning.
“It’s the biggest and best event,” Kouzez said. “You literally have some of the best pilots in the world. To watch them fly and to fly with them is an honor and a treat.”