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Written by Robert J. Engle.
A grand jet event with bonus photos
Read the full article in the November 2015 issue of
Model Aviation.


When Jay Smith from Model Aviation and I talked about me writing an article for Jets Over Kentucky Week, I was excited to have the opportunity do so. Jets Over Kentucky is in its 11th year and one of the largest Jet events in the US.

It is held in the small town of Lebanon, Kentucky. When my GPS said the hotel was at the next turn, I thought it was malfunctioning because I only saw fields, but there it was.

The event is held at the Lebanon-Springfield County Airport and it’s a wonderful site for jets. The runway is nearly a mile long and 75-feet wide, with open areas in every direction. There is hardly anything in the way to impede your flying.

There was an occasional full-scale airplane landing, so all the jets had to land and wait for a few minutes, but then they were back in the air. The Air Methods EC135 helicopter was out saving lives and in and out all weekend, but the crew was courteous and when they departed they just flew along the road away from the runway environment.

As a jet modeler in my fifth year, I am sorry to admit that I had not previously attended this event. The atmosphere is laid-back—just a bunch of people having fun doing what they love most. This is unusual for such a large event.

One of the things I like most about the jet crowd is that it is a close group. You see the same people at many of the events and it’s like family. There were pilots from many other countries who had traveled a long distance and I hope they felt at ease at Jets Over Kentucky and will come back. Each pilot—160 in all—registered and paid a small fee to fly for seven days at this magnificent facility.

I was told it was the wettest Jets Over Kentucky event ever—not the greatest weather for taking pictures with clouds and haze. There was rain almost every day, and if you were not standing on pavement, your feet were soon soaked and muddy.

There were many thunderstorms and downpours, and a few tents got an unexpected ride, but the minute the rain stopped, the jets were flying and the public enjoyed many hours of watching them. I don’t know the exact number, but I would guess there were several hundred jets on site.

The hangar at the end of the day looked like the hangar of all our dreams. It was filled with jets in every shape and size and it was locked at night to secure them. The hangar doubled as the banquet hall for the pilots and crew to enjoy a great catered meal and awards presentation at the end of the event on Saturday.

Next was the auction. This was a great chance to bid on something and save a few dollars. There were small foam jets, electronic parts, tools, turbines, and a giant BAE Hawk, as well as many other great things and free CA glue bottles by the hundreds.

There were six flight stations and they were filled most of the time with pilots tearing up the sky. Being from the military and, as we say, being “squared away,” I am very critical of safety and organization. Marvin Alverez ran the flightline like an aircraft carrier flight deck. He shuttled jets on and off the runway with speed and precision. I thought he did an incredible job on the flightline each day. We were lucky to have him.

Of course, the main reason there is a Jets Over Kentucky event is because of Lewis “The General” Patton. Lewis puts a ton of time into this event and simply wants people to have a good time. He is easy to talk to and if you have a problem he will do his best to fix it or devise a suitable compromise. I want to thank Lewis, not just for his event, but for his continued support and dedication to the hobby we love.

For anyone needing parts or looking to make a purchase, there were plenty of vendors and sponsors from which to choose, with nearly everything one could want from glue to turbine engines.

There were a few food vendors on site with hot food as well as cold drinks. I think someone would have made a killing with a mobile ice cream or drink stand because it was extremely hot and humid each day.

Many pilots grilled their own food and many had RV setups that were unbelievable! I guess, after attending a large number of events, these people have their layouts down to a science. Lewis had all the parking for RVs and campers organized long ago, so attendees had their favorite spots.

Although the weather was uncooperative, I think everyone still had a great time. When the rain was falling, people worked on airplanes or sat together and caught up with each other and shared winter projects that they had built.
I also managed to get a few flights in. Rick Daubert, from Pennsylvania, brought some nice jets and was kind enough to let me fly. Thanks, Rick.

I hope everyone had a great time during Jets Over Kentucky Week and I look forward to seeing the event grow. It is a grand gathering to attend whether it is just to watch or even better, to fly in it! I hope to see you all next year, and in the meantime, happy and safe flying!

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