No, it really is a plane – a radio controlled model that flies at speeds up to 75 mph.
The familiar words introducing Superman are sure to become a catch phrase again with the release of the new “Man of Steel” movie. And while locals may be inside a cool, dark theater on Saturday watching the iconic super hero in action on the big screen, organizers expect a large crowd to be watching the skies over Dunnellon as the Tri-County R/C Club hosts the Florida Club 40 Pylon Race at the Rainbow R/C Air Park.
The planes are radio controlled, with wing spans of up to 4 1/2 feet. They are powered by combustion engines and can reach speeds of 70 to 75 mph.
Matt Wayne, a member of the Tri-County club since 2007, said the pilots have 30 seconds to get their plane up to speed before a horn sounds to start each race. The planes then race 10 laps around two pylons 600-feet apart.
“After a while guys get tired of doing loops and tricks,” Wayne said. “The pilots want to do something a little more challenging. It is a way for us to channel our competitive nature.”
The race in Dunnellon is part of a seasonal competition among approximately 20 pilots. Three other R/C clubs in the area – The Flying Gators Club, The Southern Eagles Club and the Hernando Aero Modelers Club – each host two races a season. The Tri-County R/C Club hosts two races as well, making for an eight race season.
According to the Florida Club 40 Pylon Racing website, the approved airplane and motor for their races is the AirBorne Models Sky Raider Mach II powered by a stock SuperTigre GS 40 ringed engine with a silent muffler. The servomechanisms, props, receivers and radios used are the pilot’s choice. There are three rounds of racing, with four or more heats of four planes per round. Points are earned based on position of finish. The top four pilots compete to determine the overall winner for the day. Points accumulated throughout the season determine the club’s national champion.
Retired Army pilot Charlie Poulton said the races channel his competitive spirit.
“It is such an adrenaline rush,” said Poulton, a Tri-County R/C Club member of three years. “You are racing three other planes that are fighting in the same air space.”
Poulton first started dabbling with remote control planes in the 1960s. Since then he has competed in thousands of races and was the 1993 and 1994 National Miniature Pylon Racing Association National Champion.
“When I first started racing with the Tri-County R/C club, there were only two or three guys that could race competitively; now there are 15 or so,” Poulton said.
Spectators are welcome to attend Saturday’s race. There is no charge for parking or admission. Food will be available for purchase. The gates will open at 8 a.m., with the first race at 9 a.m. The air park is off County Road 484, just east of Dunnellon.