Giant-scale R/C aircraft take flight at the Air Force Museum

Photo:  Soaring above the crowd; photo: courtesy of D.O.G.S.

By Matt Clevenger

Some of the world’s largest model aircraft will be landing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Sept. 1-3, presenting an air show of epic proportions hosted by the Dayton Ohio Giant Scalers Club (D.O.G.S.).

“You’ll see everything from replicas of World War I planes all the way up to modern jet fighters,” D.O.G.S. contest director John Nagle says. “I’d say there’s probably going to be about 300 aircraft there. Everybody shows up with more than one.”

Held on an unused runway outside the Air Force Museum, the free event usually draws around 150 giant-scale pilots from across the country, and thousands of spectators over the course of the weekend. 

“Generally, we’ll bring in 10-12,000 people over the weekend,” Nagle says. “We get pilots from all over the country, and we’ve had international pilots there too; the farthest one came in from Israel.”

A wide range of giant-scale radio-control (R/C) aircraft will participate in the air show, which offers separate time slots for general flying, aerobatics, and warbirds. Propeller-driven airplanes, jets, biplanes, and helicopters will all be on display throughout the weekend. Registration is free for pilots.

With giant planes and a giant crowd, it takes a large venue to host the giant-scale air show, and the real full-sized aircraft on display make the museum an ideal location. “We fly off of the runway behind the museum that’s inactive,” he says. “With it being a giant-scale event, it gives us a lot of room to fly over.” 

The air show will run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. The event is sponsored by D.O.G.S., Horizon Hobby of Champaign, Illinois, and RC Hobby Center in Dayton. 

“This is the 19th year for it,” Nagle says. “It has been at WPAFB since about ’98 or ’99, somewhere around there.”

“It’s basically open flying, and we have an air show that’s done with the giant-scale airplanes,” Nagle says. “There’s no admission charge or anything, and there’s generally vendors there for food and other stuff; hobby related stuff is there too.”

Spectators can also view the aircraft on display in between flights, and visitors are encouraged to talk with pilots and their ground crews. “There have been a lot of strange ones that have flown over,” Nagle says of the giant-scale planes that will be on display. “Probably the most impressive one that I’ve seen was a B-17 dropping off the shuttle that Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in.”

“You’ll see a little bit of everything,” he says. “There are kits there and there are custom builds, and there are other ones that come built from the factory. Giant-scale means that a model airplane has a wingspan of 80 inches or larger. A biplane has a wingspan of 60 inches or larger, or true quarter-scale of the full-size airplane if it’s a replica.”

“If the public has any questions, they can usually talk to any of the pilots while they’re there,” he says. “They’re really nice people.”

Pilots flying giant-scale aircraft like those in the show are required to obtain a license from the Academy of Model Aeronautics, which also provides insurance coverage. Beginners usually start out with a trainer airplane available at stores like RC Hobby Center, before stepping up to something larger. 

“You need to belong to the Academy of Model Aeronautics,” Nagle says. “That provides you liability insurance on the airplane. Everybody flying at the air show is required to have AMA.

“All of the aircraft you’re going to see people flying during the air show are for advanced, very experienced pilots,” he says. “But there are trainer airplanes that you can get, and then get involved with one of the local clubs in the area. Most of the clubs have some kind of an instructor program; some are just more formal than others.”

Spectators are also encouraged to take photos and video during the air show; rules for pets follow the museum’s current guidelines. “There’s really no restrictions on that kind of thing,” Nagle says. “It’s usually what the Air Force Museum requires.”

The D.O.G.S. club meets regularly in the Dayton area, although the air show is usually the only public event the group sponsors throughout the year. In fact, the club was originally started back in the 1990s as a means to organize the annual air show. “The club was originally set up to do this,” Nagle says. “Basically our only purpose is this event. 

“It’ll be fun,” he says. “It’s a good time, and with it being open to the public and free it gives you something to do on the holiday weekend.”

The D.O.G.S. air show will be held Friday, Sept. 1 through Sunday, Sept. 3 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, 1100 Spaatz St. in Dayton. Admission is free. For more information, please visit or

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Reach DCP freelance writer Matt Clevenger at

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