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2016-09-21 / Front Page

NEAT Fair Draws Model Airplane Enthusiasts

By Abby Butler


Jason McQuiston, left, discussed the construction of his custom built space shuttle and transporter at the NEAT Fair. 
Randy Shepard/The Reporter Jason McQuiston, left, discussed the construction of his custom built space shuttle and transporter at the NEAT Fair. Randy Shepard/The Reporter SHINHOPPLE - The annual Northeast Electric Aircraft Technology show was held September 15 to 18 at the Peaceful Valley Campgrounds in Shinhopple, and drew crowds of almost 400 on the peak day. The fair provides a venue for people who build and fly their own model aircraft to gather and exchange advice and safety tips.

According to Arnie Banker Jr., the owner of Peaceful Valley Campgrounds and an avid modeler and flier, the event has been held at Peaceful Valley for more than 10 years and it is the ideal venue. “We have a beautiful backdrop for the aircraft and we have all the facilities for the flying fields,” he said. He explained that approximately 350 guests stayed at the campground over the weekend and additional day guests are always present for the event.

Banker indicated that the event is for all electric aircraft from helicopters, float planes, mini-drones and everything in between. “Right now, the next biggest thing is mini-drones that you fly with goggles,” he said. “You are viewing the drone as if you are sitting in it and there’s a little camera on the drone and it flies up to 80 miles an hour. You race them in the gravel pit, around pylons.”


Matthew Lardahl holds his 3DHS Extra 330 airplane after completing an aerobatic flight at the NEAT Fair in Shinhopple. 
Randy Shepard/The Reporter Matthew Lardahl holds his 3DHS Extra 330 airplane after completing an aerobatic flight at the NEAT Fair in Shinhopple. Randy Shepard/The Reporter According to Banker, multiple race and show events happen during the weekend, including night flights and historical aircraft. Banker explained that the local club, Peaceful Valley Campground Model Airplane Club, accepts new members and the campground sells passes for people interested in using the facilities there, including a 2,200 foot grass runway.

The event is sponsored by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), which encourages a focus on safety for all events. The event in Shinhopple is one of the largest gatherings of electric aircraft in the world and Banker explained that there is an effort to inform event attendees about the different aspects of safety involved in flying model aircraft.

Fans of the sport from all over the Northeast were in attendance, including Matthew Lardahl from Massachusetts, who brought his 3DHS Extra 330 airplane. Lardahl explained that the event is a family affair for himself and his father, who have been attending for the past 17 years.

Similarly, Jason McQuiston and his father Thomas drove from Youngstown, Ohio to attend the fair. The two built a space shuttle and transporter and were displaying it at the event. The project took approximately 130 hours to build and the duo have flown the separating planes 25 times.

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