By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

Redwood Empire Modelers Association holds its 8th-annual Fly-In this weekend.

A fly-in gives owners of radio-controlled model aircraft the chance to fly them, and bystanders the chance to learn the tricky art.

Expect to see model aircraft ranging in size from 2-8 feet in wingspan.

andquot;We'll have about 20 radio-control pilots,andquot; Russ Cupp, the group's secretary, said. andquot;You can't teach yourself how to fly them.andquot;

Learning to fly the model planes is trickier than many might expect, Cupp said.

To teach participants who want to try piloting the not-so-small craft, an on-site teacher equipped with two transmitters will be on hand during the Fly-In.

During the process, the teacher and student each hold a transmitter. The teacher takes the plane off and gets it up to altitude. The student can take over then, relinquishing control back to the teacher if the craft is in peril.

andquot;The trick is to fly them high when you're learning,andquot; Cupp said. andquot;I crashed sometimes when I was learning, but we always walk away from our crashes.andquot;

If you participate and get bitten by the flying bug, plan on spending upwards of $500 to get yourself outfitted with a plane and its transmitter. But take heart, some people spend multiples of that amount.

andquot;People can spend up to $10,000,andquot; Cupp said. andquot;There are some planes that if you saw them you wouldn't believe they are models.andquot;

A few of the Redwood Empire Modelers Association club are pilots. Cupp said others wish they could have become pilots.

andquot;I've always been fascinated with things that fly,andquot; he said.

The hobby is such that its devotees are willing to travel some distance to attend a fly-in. This weekend has attracted radio-control pilots from Fort Bragg, Chico, Redding, Grants Pass and possibly the Coos Bay area.

Lunch is provided for the pilots, but available to participants for a cash donation. If participants want meals other than lunch, however, they're expected to ante up with a pot luck dish and a donation.

The club is also getting together for a no-host dinner at the Steelhead Lodge Saturday night.

Contact 464-5789 or 465-6132.

The club meets at Del Norte Senior Center at 7 p.m. the last Sunday of each month.