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They may be small, but they sure do attract a crowd.
Last week, more than 150 pilots brought more than 350 model jets to the Lebanon-Springfield Airport for the 2011 Jets Over Kentucky. An estimated 2,500 spectators visited the airport during the past weekend to take in the show, according to event organizer Lewis "The General" Patton.
"It was exceptional," he said. "Our best one yet."
This year's showcase attracted pilots from as far away as China, England and South Korea. But no matter where they were from or what kind of model jet they were flying, first-timers and returning pilots had nothing but praise for the event.
Claude Mathieu of Montreal, Quebec, has been flying model planes for 15 years and model jets for the past five years. He drove 16 hours and arrived in central Kentucky July 3, and he was clearly impressed with the Jets Over Kentucky.
"It's the best one that we've ever been to," he said. "This one is really different."
Chris Tucker of Lavonia, Mich., returned for the third time this year. He said the diversity of the planes is one of the big attractions for him.
"This is one of the only events where you see this many aircraft, from small electrics to the big monsters," Tucker said.
He drove seven and a half hours to attend the event, but he said he would have driven 12 hours easily.
"It would be worth it," Tucker said.
He added that he also appreciated the southern hospitality. Rex Bryant would agree with that statement.
Bryant is a pilot for Fly Eagle Jets (a model jet manufacturer), and he attends model jets shows throughout the country.
"A lot of times when you go to event, the town doesn't really care ... but Lebanon is so accommodating," he said. "They really care that you're here."
Bryant added that Jets Over Kentucky is his favorite show. He has attended the event four times.
"It is, in my opinion, the premier jet event in the United States," he said.
As pilots took turns on the runway, hundreds of spectators gathered at any time behind a fence to allow them to watch from a safe distance.
Valerie Collins drove down from Louisville with her husband this year. She said she bought him a model plane recently, but she wanted to see "what they can really do."
"It's amazing," she said. "I can't believe they're actually flying these things."
Patton said he heard nothing but positive from pilots throughout the event.
They told him they appreciated the facility, the efforts of the Lebanon Tourist and Convention Commission and the welcome they received from Lebanon and Springfield.
And as the jets are powering down and the pilots are returning home, Patton said he is already preparing for an even bigger event in 2012.
"We thought this year was big," he said. "Next year is going to be something else."