I went a little out of my zone, in more ways than one, for this week’s activity. Warbirds Over the Rockies is an annual remote control aircraft event that takes place at Drake Field off Highway 14 east of Fort Collins—a stretch for me geographically. And based on the name of the event, I didn’t think it would be something I’d be all that interested in, as I’m not an aficionado of military aircraft. The only one I can readily identify is the Fokker flown by the Red Baron, and that’s just because of WWI Flying Ace Snoopy. But some friends attended last year’s event and thought it would be something my boys would enjoy. At any rate, Sunday was an absolutely beautiful day, and my family and I were ready to get out and try something new.
WOTR is hosted by the Love Air R/C Club of Loveland/Fort Collins. Now, I occasionally see remote control planes flying around the local parks. They’re small, they produce much insect-like buzzing, and, after about two minutes, I’ve seen enough. But the R/C Warbirds are another breed entirely. They’re big. Really big. Though some can be carried by one person, the larger ones are approximately the weight of a jockey and need at least two people to hoist them. The planes are fast, as in speeding-ticket-on-I-25 fast. And they’re authentic, down to the replica pilots in the cockpits. So, yeah, not your average craft store R/Cs.
The planes were admittedly very cool, but the skill of the pilots is what makes them so fun to watch. Even with multiple planes performing complicated maneuvers, I did not see so much as a single near miss. The only slight misadventures at takeoff and landing were due to the occasional gusty breeze.
The History of Military Aviation airshow was the big draw, and for good reason. The simulated air battles—complete with pyrotechnics—blew our socks off, or would have if we hadn’t been wearing flip-flops. But I was also so impressed by the obvious respect the participants and spectators have for the history behind these aircraft. Many veterans and service people were in attendance, including a WWII pilot who flew multiple missions in a full-size version of one of the RC bombers. The event truly was, as the website advertises, “a salute to the flyers, past, present and future who protected American turf and values.”
Sunday’s show was scaled back a bit and did not include the full-size flyovers of the prior two days. But we still had a ton of fun and have already made plans to return next year.