By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — There was thunder, there was lightning. But by noon Saturday, the sun was out.
And so were the airplanes. Model airplanes, to be exact.
The folks at the Wing & Rotor Club of Western New York were able to get an abbreviated first day in the books of the club's 2013 Fly Over Niagara Remote-Controlled Air Show. They almost didn't fly.
"We were here at 8 a.m. (Saturday)," Charlie Incorvaia, organizer for the show, said. "It was so wet, we went home. We came back at noon and it was dry enough."
The group is bound and determined to try it again today, with demonstrations of all types of aircraft set from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Reservoir State Park in Lewiston, located on Witmer Road next to Interstate 190.
There was a noticeably small crowd of onlookers Saturday, with only a handful of chairs pulled up to watch the motorized models take off and perform some of the stunts the planes have been known for. After all, these are the types of planes which perform almost every maneuver in movies before computerized technology made practical effects less spectacular.
But while many spectators kept their distance for a variety of reasons, some of the pilots still showed up to take their planes to the sky. Pilots like Tom Banish and John Scarantino, both of Hamburg's Flying Knights club.
"I saw the weather, but when I looked at the Internet, it said it was going to clear up," Banish said. "At 1 p.m., the sun is out."
Banish joined the Lewiston flyers for the first time Saturday, taking his SBach 300 aerobatics plane for flight above Reservoir Park, once again the home for the show. The 3.7 horsepower engine in the model allows him to execute some impressive maneuvers with dexterous fingers at his handheld controls.
Stunts like his knife-edge spins, waterfalls and four-point rolls are all extremely impressive. In fact, they keep him interested in the activity, he said.
"Last year, I was in to jets," he said. "But this year, I decided to try aerobatics. It's a lot more fun than flying in circles."
Organizers are hopeful the weather forecast for today holds true to try and bring more curious onlookers. Because the beauty of this particular air show is the pilots sometimes allow rookies to fly a plane.
Using connected controllers, the owner is able to get the plane to take off and climb to a nice height. He then hands over control to the inexperienced flyer by holding a button on his controller, allowing the other to take the lead.
It's a system designed to bring the rookies along slowly so if they make a mistake, the pilot can correct it before there's any real damage done, Incorvaia said.
"If the young pilot gets into trouble, like if he's going to crash, the experienced pilot can take control of the plane and save it," he said. "We try to keep the planes what we call 'three-mistakes high' (in the air) while flying."Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.