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Written by Jay Smith
Military aircraft take to the skies for a good cause
Coverage of the annual warbird event in Golden CO
Photos by the author and Lee Jay Fingersh
As seen in the January 2015 issue of
Model Aviation.

The AAM club field, where Warbirds Over The Rockies was held, provided a beautiful backdrop to enjoy warbirds from many eras of aviation.

Getting together with likeminded individuals at an event and flying our aircraft is a blast, especially when the enjoyment of our hobby is also helping benefit the community. Such is the case with Warbirds Over The Rockies, in a partnership with Mental Health America of Colorado that has lasted the past five years.

Mental Health America was founded in 1909 and is a community-based nonprofit organization, dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. The Arvada Associated Modelers (AAM) club that hosted the event, has a strong bond with its local community as represented by a large spectator presence and the attendance of representatives from local government.

In its 12th year, the Warbirds Over The Rockies was held on September 11-13, 2015, just outside of Golden, Colorado. Along with the beautiful flying field and picturesque mountain backdrop, Golden is also the home of Coors Brewing Company and Spyderco cutlery company.

The flying site, with its 50 x 750-foot concrete runway, was perfect for hosting all types of military aircraft brought by approximately 100 pilots who came from within the US as well as Australia, Italy, Brazil, Canada, and England.

This DA-100-powered Meister Zero belonging to Brian Young provided many smoke-on passes during the air show.

Greg Thomas put in several flights on his electric-powered Black Horse Models Westland Wyvern. It flies on a 12s battery pack with a Turnigy Rotomax 50 motor.

The German twin-engine Engel Modellbau Dornier Do 335 was one of the more unusual models at the event. It has a 104-inch wingspan and is powered by a 3W-80 and G45. Photo by Lee Jay Fingersh.

This Nieuport 28 was one of a handful of World War I models in attendance. Each day, the WW I models started the air show.

While event staff handled everything from parking to pilot registration and safety, Sam Wright, assisted by Dave Platt, did an excellent job in sharing information on aircraft, military history, and updates to the daily schedule for pilots and spectators.

Vendor row covered the needs of warbird and aviation fans alike, with companies including Warbird Colors, Warbird Pilots, E-Power, HobbyTown USA, and Zurich Extreme Glare Sunglasses.

A popular destination for families in attendance was the make-and-take area that was stocked with supplies allowing youngsters to build and color foam gliders. AMA District IX had a booth next door to the make-and-take area, where Vice President (VP) Jim Tiller and Associate Vice President (AVP) Rick McCaskill could interact with spectators and help trim the multitude of newly built gliders being flown.

Who knows where this exposure to aviation might lead for those in attendance.

Jim Tiller (facing camera), AMA District IX VP, and Rick McCaskill, AMA District IX AVP, were on hand to support the AMA, help with the make-and-take, and speak with attendees.

The AAM club hosted the event and sponsored a well-stocked make-and-take area that allowed kids to build and color foam gliders.

Air Show With a Blast

Brian and Bonnie O’Meara and everyone involved certainly know how to conduct an air show that is as exciting for the spectators as it is for the pilots. During the three-day event, seven full-scale aircraft, including a P-51, T-33, T-28, C-45, Stearman, and Provost jet, provided FAA-approved flybys. The pilots did an excellent job of providing banked passes to allow the best view of the aircraft—some made photo passes with smoke on.

The RC aircraft show loosely follows the history of military aviation, starting with World War I aircraft, then on to Golden Age aircraft, World War II, and jets.

Beyond seeing some beautiful aircraft, such as Jim Hammond’s scratch-built Spitfire and Brian’s B-26 Maurader Flak Bait, pyrotechnics were used to simulate flak, strafing runs, and some large explosions! Although I have never attended a Byron Originals Airshow, several commented that Warbirds Over The Rockies provided a similar experience.

I had the good fortune to meet Robert Elson, who attended with the Commemorative Air Force. Robert was a transport pilot during World War II and he brought along photos of himself during his military service, including all of the aircraft that he flew.

I also met AMA and Arvada Associated Modelers member, Lanny Hansen, who is a Vietnam veteran. He was also gracious enough to share some photos with me that were taken during his service in Vietnam, many of which included the Huey helicopters that he flew. It is always a pleasure to meet fellow veterans and share stories of our time in the service.

During the three-day event, seven full-scale aircraft, including a P-51, T-33, T-28, C-45, a Stearman, and a Provost jet, provided FAA-approved flybys.

Brian O’Meara’s Flak Bait Martin B-26 Marauder was expertly piloted by Dino DiGiorgio. The model has an incredible level of detail and is seen here with the bomb bay doors open and ready to drop its payload.

Spectators of all ages attended the daily air show that included RC aircraft as well as flybys by some full-scale aircraft.

Awards Banquet and Auction

Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum hosted the Saturday night banquet and auction. Attendees were provided the opportunity to explore the museum and mingle with guests before and after the meal. Attendees were also offered a chance to sit in the cockpits of some of the museum’s aircraft, which was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

The awards presented to the pilots were handmade by Tighe O’Meara and featured aircraft and shell casings. After several happy pilots accepted their awards, it was time for the auction.

More than 65 donated items were auctioned off by Sam Wright and Brian O’Meara. From aircraft and gear to an amazing painting, attendees didn’t hold back, knowing that all of the money raised would go to Mental Health America.

I found several items that were quite tempting, and the only thing holding me back was realizing anything I purchased needed to fit in my suitcase for the flight home. I did make a mental note that the next time I attended, I should drive a large vehicle!

When it was over, approximately $25,000 was raised and everyone had smiles on their faces as they left the museum—especially the people toting awards and awesome items that they purchased at auction.

Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum hosted the Saturday night banquet and auction. Sam Wright (L), assisted by Brian O’Meara and Tiffany Marie, auctioned more than 65 donated items for charity.

There’s Always Next Year

The 2015 event was my first time attending Warbirds Over The Rockies, but it won’t be my last. If you’re going to Colorado for the first time as I did, I recommend visiting the Rocky Mountain State Park, with 415 square miles of spectacular mountains. It is located close enough to the flying field for a day trip.

If you enjoy full-scale and RC warbirds and find yourself in Colorado next September, you should consider flying at, or at least attending, Warbirds Over The Rockies. The event provides a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, and raises money for a great cause.

Brian and Bonnie O’Meara and the AAM have done a great job in partnering with their community and hosting an event that draws a large number of spectators and exposes them to some of what this great hobby has to offer!
—Jay Smith

Additional Photos


Warbirds Over The Rockies

Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum
(303) 360-5360

Mental Health America of Colorado


I truly have been searching for a Black Horse westland wyvern for more than Two years.Is there any chance That someone could direct me as to where and how to order one, I seen one was at your event and thought maybe someone could help me, Thank You and good day

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