[Headline: Experiencing a jet meet]
What is it like to fly at a jet meet? That is a question that I’ve been asked many times by fellow jet modelers who have yet to take the plunge and fly at an event. My suggestion is to just go and do it. Your fellow jet modelers will help you out.
I attended one of the largest jet events in the US: Jets Over Kentucky. It’s a place where you can escape reality for a week and fully engulf yourself in jet modeling with some of the best and most dedicated jet pilots in the world. Oh yeah, it’s fun!
At any jet event, the pilots’ briefing is more involved than at fly-ins for other types of models. Jet events tend to have more rules than other gatherings because of the aircraft’s performance level. Safety is paramount, along with respect and courtesy for our fellow modelers.
CD Lewis Patton always starts the pilots’ meeting with, “Welcome to Kentucky” and the number-one rule of Jets Over Kentucky—no politics. He means it. The pilots are all there to have fun with their friends and to fly jets. Lewis keeps the event friendly, well organized, and his enthusiasm makes this a great fly-in to attend and to participate in.
I will start with a quick rundown of the typical rules. First, if there is more than one aircraft in the sky, fly the racetrack pattern. Second, don’t fly high-performance turns in the center of the field with the model pointing at the flightline. It is dangerous because of the jets’ speeds. Full-scale air shows also keep the energy of the aircraft parallel to the flightline whenever possible. Never point a jet at a crowd.
The unique thing to jet model events is that we fly off of a runway with a limited width, so all operations—taxi, takeoff, landing, and taxiing back following landing—are confined within a narrow space. It takes some serious discipline and skill.
The flightline director is the boss, setting up operations, and as the sky gets busy, directing your flight operations.
At Jets Over Kentucky, held July 6-13, 2014, there were six flight stations, and with an average flight time of approximately 6 minutes, that meant a takeoff and landing every 30 seconds. Coordination of takeoffs and landings was vital. Pilots had to be prepared with a ground tank to plug into the vent line, which sucks the fuel into an aircraft’s tanks to keep them full while waiting for clearance to taxi for takeoff.
When taxiing for takeoff or back from landing, pilots kept their airplanes close to the nearest side of the runway, keeping the runway clear for safe operations.
Working with a good spotter is important. Experienced spotters can help you avoid other airplanes and even suggest changing your speed to open up space. They communicate with the flightline director to clear a slot for landing, and advise you on approach spacing to provide a comfortable distance between aircraft.
That’s a quick rundown on the flying, but it’s only part of the experience. Fun-flys are primarily social events. Flying is secondary. Don’t believe me? Think about your best days flying models. They were likely the days shared with friends.
Jets Over Kentucky, held in Lebanon, Lentucky, is blessed with a large group of jet modelers from across the country who are all friends—talking jets, helping each other, and trading experiences and skills. I’ve had my airplane’s landing gear rebuilt by others at jet meets. I’ve helped others repair their models, too. Helping other pilots is fun and is part of developing friendships.
At Jets Over Kentucky, JR, Futaba, Horizon Hobby/Spektrum, and other companies had representatives on the field who were ready to help and answer questions. I love the support and education that these companies provide.
I had an interesting problem with aileron response characteristics while flying Dirk Flejter’s FeiBao T-33 equipped with a bavarianDemon Cortex gyro. I had to get it smoothed out, and knew the problem wasn’t in the airframe. Danny Melnik, of Esprit Model, left his booth and came over to help. He plugged his laptop into the gyro to review the settings.
We determined that the problem was excessive control throws. We reduced the travel volumes, returned the gyro settings back to normal values, and the next flight had the T-33 flying smoothly and gracefully. Thanks to Danny for his help, and to Dirk for honoring me with a few flights on his well set up T-33. It was a joy to fly.
After many days of flying, there was a two-hour scale jet smackdown on Saturday, beginning with five scale BAE Hawks. Two pilots had to depart early so they flew first.
This was followed by a flight of five T-33s—what a sight and sound to have all five jets back-taxi and line up for takeoff. This was followed by five pilots with little-to-no experience flying together, and rolling off on takeoff approximately five seconds apart. It was exciting, and that was only the beginning.
Twelve flights of scale jets were completed and included F-100s, F-4s, Korean vintage airplanes, British jets, and many rounds of modern military aircraft. It was exciting and fun for the spectators and the pilots.
The biggest accomplishment for all participants was that all 12 flights, plus three full-scale takeoffs, were completed within a two-hour window. The discipline of the pilots and crew was impressive, and was spurred by people such as Dan Metz, who stepped in to keep the event moving, and Marvin Alvarez, who did an incredible job as flightline director. Great people make great things happen.
I want to compliment Marvin on his great volunteer work. He was on the flightline with his crew keeping traffic coordinated all week. His communication, organization of his supporting crew, and composure made life as a pilot easier. I cannot say enough about how much I appreciate his hard work. Thank you again from all of the Jets Over Kentucky pilots.
I hope this gives you an idea of how much fun a jet meet can be. Get out and join us at a jet fun-fly near you.[dingbat]
Jets Over Kentucky
RCUniverse Jets Over Kentucky thread
Jet Pilots’ Organization