Bob Pollokoff walked into a hobby store nearly 12 years ago, came across some model airplanes and began talking about them with some of the customers in the store.
The men told about an annual event for remote control model airplanes at Southwest Area Park in Baltimore Highlands.
"I got curious, so I went and watched the planes fly," Pollokoff said.
"One of the members put me on a buddy box with a trainer," said the Owings Mills resident on his opportunity to practice flying that day. "It took off from there, literally and figuratively."
Now, Pollokoff is now among the 125 members of the Southwest Area Park Modelers. Members of the group range in age from teenagers to those in their 70s. All share a love of flying, a love that will be on display this weekend in Southwest Area Park, near the intersection of Baltimore Street and Georgia Avenue.
The club will again host Baltimore's largest gathering of remote control (R/C) planes during the Southwest Area Park Modelers' Fly-In and Family Fun Weekend from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 29-30. This is the 17th year in a row the club has put on a show.
Dr. Art Vail, an Arbutus dentist and one of the event's organizers, said he expects a turnout of about 300 or 400 people if the weather cooperates this weekend.
"This is spectator friendly," said Vail of the event. "If they want to see a particular plane because they like it, we will put it up for them."
According to organizers, dozens of local R/C pilots will send up R/C airplanes, jets and helicopters, many of them taking advantage of the park's 600-foot grass runway or 275-foot paved runway.
"Number one, they will get to see some incredible flying, with planes of all shapes and sizes," said Pollokoff on the attraction.
He added that visitors will also be able to try their hand at flying model planes.
There will be nonstop demonstrations with aerial stunts, trainings session for novice pilots and a commemorative air show at 2 p.m. Sunday in honor of former club member and president Ron Krokus as well as grilled food.
Pollokoff, a past president of the club, said models can go up nearly 1,000 feet but that most fly from 300 to 500 feet.
Wingspans can range from 12 inches up to 12 feet, he said.
The group, mostly a male domain, is made up of retirees, military veterans, medics, engineers and auto mechanics, said Pollokoff, who is involved in commercial real estate.
One ofits youngest members is Zack Bury, who graduated from Lansdowne High in 2012 and is now a freshman at the Community College of Baltimore, where he studies aviation management on the Catonsville campus.
Bury, the son of Wayne Bury, the club vice president, began flying model planes when he was 5.
"We will have a bunch of club trainers," the younger Bury, who lives in Baltimore Highlands, says of the weekend show. "Anyone that comes will have a chance to fly. We will have some demonstrations going from about 10 a.m. to 5 p.m."
One of the planes Bury flies is an Extra 260, a model that sells for $416, according to the website http://www.chiefaircraft.com
"He is our best pilot. He wants to be a commercial pilot, " said Vail, of the younger Bury.