Miniature replica airplanes designed in precise detail are a passion for Bart Ramsay, organizer of a group of fliers who brightened the skies in Princeton on the first weekend in June.
Many of the jets are exact models of bigger aircraft, with tiny windows, doors and wheels.
The planes even use real jet fuel or kerosine for power.
“These are not toys, they’re real airplanes. Some can go up to 200 miles an hour,” said Ramsay as he gave the Spotlight a tour of the 20-plus aircraft being prepared to fly.
Many people start with smaller remote-control planes and move on to bigger ones, like Allan Bloore who owns a bright orange and yellow Euro-fighter.
The airplane isn’t considered an exact replica because it’s painted non-traditional colours, but is still precisely designed to the last detail, including a miniature pilot inside.
“We like to fly in Princeton because it has a great area to fly, and the wives can get out and do something too,” Ramsay said.
Flying miniature aircraft seems to be a man’s game – all pilots in Princeton were indeed male.
Pilots from Alberta and the United States were also drawn to the 13th annual event. Many brought two planes, which can range in value from $2,000 to $15,000.
“Ninety per cent of the planes have retractable landing gear and brakes. The only thing they don’t have is a pilot or carry people,” said Ramsay as he pointed out the small doors etched into the side of one plane. The jets must be kept in sight at all times so they can be properly controlled, he added.
“They can fly very high – out of eyesight – but that is against our rules.”
Experienced fliers know how to navigate strong winds and land their planes smoothly.
“Most of the airplane is taken up with fuel – they’re very hungry, even for a typical five minute flight,” said Ramsay, adding they cannot hold anything else but fuel in the cabins.
Flying exact replicas can be tricky because grey airplanes can camouflage against a cloudy sky. Brightly coloured planes can be seen much easier, Ramsay said.
“Flying takes experience. It can be confusing which way to turn the plane – left or right – if it’s high up in the air.