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Model Planes Over Kaneohe

Aces in Miniature: Some of those jets over Kaneohe are remote-control model aircraft.


The F-22 Raptor. This plane runs on real jet fuel and reaches speeds upwards of 200 mph.

Photos: Rae Huo

They streak across the sky over Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe almost every Sunday, from vintage World War II aircraft to the most high-tech, cutting-edge jet fighters. You might marvel at the aerobatics, the piercing scream of the jet engines, before realizing that … hey, is that pilot made of plastic? These planes are actually models, only a few feet long.

Welcome to the world of the Paradise Flyers.

T.J. Goodin, age 16, and his father, Mark,
share a passion for flying model planes.

“We’re just a group of guys interested in the model-aviation hobby,” says Mark Goodin. “We spend the entire day flying the remote-controlled aircraft, enjoying the planes we put together, setting up to fly.”

These hobbyists have a deep fascination with all things aviation-related, and their backgrounds run the gamut from airplane and helicopter mechanics and engineers, to kids in their teens to retired military personnel in their 90s.

Of all the planes flown by club members, the F-22 Raptor is the top gun. Not only does it run on real jet fuel and reach speeds upwards of 200 mph, it costs more than the average used car.

“It costs more than $10,000 bucks, but it’s worth it,” says Mid-Pac senior T.J. Goodin. “It’s great because controlling something like this, it’s unbelievable.” He has his driver’s license but would rather fly than drive any day.

“It becomes an obsession,” warns Mark . “You start with a basic trainer for a few hundred dollars, and you advance rapidly to a more complex aircraft and some of us just can’t stop there. We end up with trailers and more planes.” Goodin has filled his garage with airplanes and equipment. “My garage is no longer a garage.” It’s a hangar.

Taking Off

While the sky is the limit when it comes to the cost of remote-controlled planes, getting started is easy, and relatively inexpensive. You can find “almost ready to fly” (ARF) planes for about $400. You’ll also need about $100 to $200 for an assortment of “pit” equipment to fuel and start the engine, and an extra propeller or two. Paradise Flyers club members are happy to assist new members. For more information on getting started, visit modelaircraft.org. To contact Paradise Flyers, visit hawaiijets.com.


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Honolulu Magazine July 2020
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