Before they were drones

Giant remote-controlled aircraft show at Air Force Museum

By Mark Luedtke

Photo: The annual Giant Scale Radio-Controlled Model Aircraft show takes place Sept. 4-6 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; photo: Don Popp

Every child loves radio-controlled airplanes. You can watch people flying them in parks all over the country. But you won’t see a spectacular giant radio-controlled aircraft show anywhere like the one the big kids of DOGS will put on Labor Day weekend at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

After two years away, the Dayton Ohio Giant Scalers (DOGS) airshow returns to the museum, and event director Blane Miller is excited. “This year we are back on the hallowed grounds of the museum and hope for a great turnout of pilots and weather,” he explains. “Come put some BARK into your Labor Day weekend with the DOGS.”

Like many, Miller fell in love with radio-controlled (R/C) airplanes as a child. After buying and assembling his first R/C plane, he met R/C pilot Jack Arthur and asked him to teach him to pilot his plane. “I think this made his day,” Miller recalls. “We met every other night at the WACO airfield in Troy for a few weeks, and I got the hang of it. I started flying by myself, and it was addicting.”

Many children know that feeling, but as they grow up, they leave the hobby behind. Maybe because of the crashes. Not Miller. Despite crashing and rebuilding his planes, he was drawn deeper into it. “One day I went to WACO to fly and there was a big black trailer there. Three guys had some giant scale R/C planes, and I knew I had to have one of them. I started out with one, then another and kept learning to fly. I still crashed but I could repair or build another plane if needed.”

Miller parlayed his experience as an R/C pilot into piloting full-sized planes, which he doesn’t crash, but he never lost his love of R/C planes. Instead, he joined DOGS to enjoy the hobby with others.

Miller describes what visitors can expect to see at the event.

“When visitors come out to the show, they are going to see models of every shape and size: single engine, twin engine and jets,” he says. “There will be airplanes in the air from sun-up until closing time. One thing that we stress to the guys is this isn’t a fly-in; it’s an airshow. Every pilot that comes is welcome to fly.”

Coordinators expect more than 100 pilots to fly aircraft at the show, flying a number of different types of planes. R/C warbirds are replicas from different eras of Air Force aviation. They will fly in formations and simulate battles including dogfights and bombing runs. Other planes will fly aerobatics and formations. Helicopters will also fly aerobatics.

Miller seems partial to jets.

“These are real jet-powered models and sound just like the real ones,” he says. “There are a couple kinds of jets that will be here. Sport jets are models that were designed to be fun to fly. Then you will see some jets that are copied from the warbirds.”

Sean Saddler pilots a jet. Like Miller, he started flying R/C planes as a child, at 13, following in the footsteps of his dad. He grew attracted to giant scale R/C planes watching others at his local field. He joined DOGS ten years ago.

Saddler explains his jet is not a toy.

“I will be flying a Boomerang Sprint which is a sport jet. It is powered by a miniature turbine engine that burns kerosene,” he informs. “It flies around 160 mph.” While inspiring for children, flying giant R/C aircraft isn’t child’s play.

Both Miller and Saddler emphasize this event is a family event.

“The event is family driven because we love to promote youth in aviation,” Miller explains. “This is as much about sparking an interest in kids as it is a bunch of guys flying models for fun on a weekend. It’s a win-win. At the end of our noonday show, we normally try to have a candy drop for the kids. All we ask is that parents watch their children when they are around the

The noonday event Miller references is an airshow that showcases all the planes and discusses their history each day. Pilots, including Saddler, are available to talk about their aircraft with visitors. Food and drink will be available all day, every day. Hobby shops, including R/C giant Horizon Hobby Distributors, set up booths for visitors. In addition, the Air Force Museum will be open so visitors can see the full-size versions of many of the R/C planes flown at the show.

Miller concludes, “I hope to see everyone over the weekend for some fun and a great time with family and friends.”


The Giant Scale Radio-Controlled Model Aircraft Air Show will take place Sept. 4-6 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, 111 Spaatz St. Times are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Admission and parking are free. For more information, please visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mark Luedtke at

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