Citizen Staff Writer
The jets are coming: No propellers, please.
This weekend the Tucson Jet Rally 2009 takes over the flight line of the Tucson International Modelplex Park Association as model airplane versions of full-scale jets take to the skies. The annual event draws pilots of these radio-controlled craft from all the Western states. The rally’s director, Debbie Sherrow, says everyone loves the field’s wide open spaces.
Making full use of the city’s clear skies and TIMPA’s unobstructed visibility, these pilots use remote radio control systems to fly their craft at speeds approaching 200 mph. Everyone’s first impression of these unique flying works of art is, “They sound just like real jets.”
Perhaps that is why elaborately detailed scale models are so popular in this branch of aeromodeling. These models with sweptwing spans of more than 6 feet, can cost between $15,000 and $20,000. Many are scale models of military aircraft, lending a sense of aviation history to the event.
The rally is not a competition, but a “fun fly” with all pilots sharing the skies equally. A highlight of the event is the showcase when all aircraft are parked on the flight line for closer inspection by spectators.
TIMPA is located west of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, west of Sandario Road, far beyond the suburbs. Just consider the drive part of the adventure for a family outing where admission is charged by the carload.
Some families bring along their camping gear and pitch a tent to stay overnight. Others park their RVs in the equally spacious parking area. Lawn chairs, sun hats and sunscreen are all recommended. Indoor restrooms and running water (but not drinking water) are at the park. Food concessions will be available.
Give your props to pilots of 200-mph model jets
IF YOU GO
What: Tucson Jet Rally 2009
When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday-Saturday, only limited flying Sunday
Where: Tucson International Modelplex Park
Price: $5 per car
Info: 744-0633, www.tucsonwarbirds.com; www.timpa.org for a map to the park.
Directions: From the Northwest Side, take Ina Road west from Interstate 10. Go left on Wade Road, right on Picture Rocks Road, left on Sandario Road, right on Manville Road, left on Reservation Road (a dirt road) for two miles to the marked park gate.
From midtown, take Speedway Boulevard west past I-10, through Gates Pass and turn right onto Kinney Road. Continue west where the main pavement turns into Mile Wide Road at the entrance to Saguaro National Monument. Continue west on Mile Wide across Sandario Road, following the pavement until it ends at Reservation Road (a dirt road). Follow the dirt road about a mile to the park’s gate.