There was buzz in the air Saturday morning - literally.
It was a high-pitched whine that filled the Pony Express Model Airpark East of Carson City. From out of a cloudless sky, the source of the noise emerged. A small airplane nose dived to within feet of the ground before leveling out and turning for another pass.
On the ground, 14-year-old Andrew Mims, of Galena, delicately fingered the controls to maneuver the plane. Running out of gas, Mims lined up the runway and watched the plane's decent back to earth.
"I've been doing this for about three months. My dad has been flying (remote control) airplanes since he was 10," Mims said.
Mims bought a video game that taught him how to pilot the craft, and after mastering it, decided it was time to try his hand at the real thing.
"I like it. I like the thrill of doing the stunts and showing off," Mims said.
Saturday marked the annual open house for the High Sierra Radio Control Club.
"Every year we invite the public out to see what we do and familiarize them with radio-controlled flying," said Field Marshall Tom Reinbolt, of Carson City. "Let people know what it's about and maybe get one or two hooked."
Bob Heitkamp, of Minden, knows what that is like. Twenty years ago he came to an open house and got hooked on the idea. He's been doing it ever since.
"They still make the first airplane I had, an ugly stick. It's still made and people still learn how to fly on it," Heitkamp said.
At Saturday's open house, Heitkamp was flying a model P-51 with modifications to the engine. He hopes to use a similar plane in competitions later this year.
John Hoppe, 60, of Sacramento, Calif., brought his turbine-powered jet to the open house. The $6,000 aircraft features a 1200 simjet engine and is capable of speeds upwards of 180 mph.
"It's good therapy. I'm an auditor, and nobody is ever happy to see an auditor," he said. "When I can work on gluing and fitting the airplanes it's therapeutic."
Reinbolt himself understands the fascination with the machines. Aircraft have held his interest since he was a child. He soon learned to pilot full-size aircraft but found the smaller versions more cost effective.
"It's a disease that you just can't stop," Reinbolt said. "It's the most fun you can have with your clothes on."
For information about joining the club, contact Bob Brogan at 883-3111.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.