Miniature Jets Take Over Sky In Buttonwillow

California Jets Attract Hundreds From Around The World

The sky above Buttonwillow was filled with more than 100 miniature jet planes.

The sixth annual California Jets air show was at the Elk Hills Buttonwillow Airport last week.

Pilots said flying radio-controlled jets is a hobby that lifts the spirits and thrills the senses.

"It's phenomenal. I have been doing it for 29 years. It's the best hobby on the world," one participant said.

The event is billed as one of the largest model jet air shows in the country, and pilots from all over the world come to fly their jets over Buttonwillow.

"When I am flying the plane, I like to do aerobatic maneuvers, do some maneuvers with the smoke system," said Marc Froehn, a pilot from Germany.

Many pilots said it's not as easy as it looks to control these planes from the ground. Other pilots said it takes some pretty serious skills to operate a miniature jet.

"It's the most hand eye coordination you could ever imagine. It's hand-eye coordination on steroids," Dave Presta, California Jets organizer.

The pilots love to use their skills to please the spectators.

"The applause from the crowd is our salary," said Froehn.

"We are all hams. Who better to show off to than your friends?" said Presta.

These aren't your grandfather model airplanes. They reach speeds of more than 200 mph, and they use real jet fuel. The only thing that may not be real is the miniature pilot that sits in the cockpit, though some of these planes come equipped with leather seats. The average starting price for a radio-controlled jet plane is $5,000, and they can go to $30,000.

"What hooked me was the fact that you are using real jet fuel and jet engine. You can put that into a scale aircraft that looks like the real thing," Ken Siltz. Pilot

Many of these radio-controlled jet pilots also fly full-size planes, but a lot of them get a bigger kick out of flying these miniature planes.

"The only thing about a regular aircraft is that you can put yourself and your family in it and go have a thousand-dollar hamburger, other than that this is harder and more thrilling," said Presta.

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