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Model airplane enthusiast shares his hobby at Kelsey’s Airdrome

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WINTHROP - The buzz around Kelsey’s Airdrome on Friday was the sound of Harry Cummings’ model airplane.

And he was a happy man as he watched his plane zoom among he puffy white clouds in the sky, sometimes somersaulting and traveling of speeds up to 60 miles an hour.

“Airplanes are my life. It’s just a fun thing. It’s in my blood. You could almost call it fanatical,” Mr. Cummings said.

His model airplane demonstration was part of the Tri-Town Summer Festival’s slate of activities. It became a part of the calendar of events seven years ago, with the late Lowell Kelsey asking fellow model airplane enthusiasts to share their hobby with others at a field that was once a cow pasture near his home in Stockholm.

Mr. Kelsey died in January 2011, and now Mr. Cummings has taken a hand in keeping the event going.

“It was one of his many passions,” Mr. Kelsey’s wife, Janice, said as she and others watched Mr. Cummings’ plane fly high in the sky. “He had all kind of passions.”

She said Mr. Kelsey, the former Stockholm town supervisor, didn’t have much time to take part in hobbies like model airplane flying during his time in office.

“When he was the supervisor, he didn’t fly all that much. Once in a while he would come over. If he had the time, he was over here,” she said.

The field is still open for flying, and Mr. Cummings showcased his airplane on Friday.

It’s a hobby that he’s been taking part in for a while as a member of the Seaway Valley Modelaires club in Massena. The club consists of approximately 24 members.

“I’m one of the original members,” he said. “Forty-some years.”

His love for models goes back even farther, though - 73 years to be exact.

“Since I was 7 years old. A kid up the street showed me how to build them, I built plastic model planes,” he said.

His Friday flights were his third this summer, but Mr. Cummings said he’d like to enjoy the hobby a little bit more.

“I used to quite often,” he said, but now it’s “not as often as I’d like too. I’ve been quite busy. I intended to get back at it.”

Some of his time has been helping others build their own remote-controlled model planes.

“Now I have to teach them how to fly. I’m a little rusty,” he said.

On Friday, his plane battled a slightly gusty cross wind, but it didn’t present any problems for the craft which is made from balsa wood and weight about eight-and-a-half pounds.

“It’ll do anything a full-size airplane would. The nice thing is, when you crash you walk away from it,” he said.

The plane was made from a kit, but Mr. Cummings said he has also build other planes from scratch.

“You learn how to do that over a period of time,” he said. “Years ago when I was doing it, it was trial and error. I crashed a lot of them. My first wife said, ‘If you’re going to do this you might as well get used to crashing.’”

The plane that took to the skies on Friday took him about 40 hours to make, but others have taken much longer.

“Some I’ve spend hundreds of hours,” Mr. Cummings said.

That’s because some can be sophisticated, he said, including a 12-foot wing span and even emitting smoke so the plane and its owner can leave messages in the sky.

Once it’s in the air, his plane can run anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes on a full tank depending on whether it’s run full throttle and at speeds of 60 to 70 miles an hour.

“This one is fairly slow,” Mr. Cummings said.

Friday was the second day of the 2012 Tri-Town Summer Festival, and there are still two full days of activities remaining.

Today’s events include an 8 a.m. 5K walk/run at the arena; a 9 a.m. frog jumping contest at the arena; a 9 a.m. “Getting It Done Obstacle Challenge” at the arena; a photo booth from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the arena; a “Carnival of Fun” from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the arena; and the “Celebrate the Olympic Spirit parade from St. Lawrence Central to Agway beginning at 11 a.m..

A pine car race will be held at 1 p.m. at the arena, and also on tap is live music with the Johnny Shack Band from 1 to 3 p.m. at LBSH; a co-ed beach volleyball tournament from 1 to 3 p.m. behind the arena; ice cream, pizza and hot dog eating contests at 2 p.m. at Primabella’s; wine tasting from 2 to 5 p.m. at Spirits of Downtown; a 3 p.m. blind tricycle rally at the Brasher Municipal Building; and Tri-Town Minor Hockey’s Duck/Turtle Race at 4 p.m. at the Riverside Campgrounds.

The day rounds out with a 5 p.m. steak dinner at the Brasher-Winthrop Fire Department; an adult kickball tournament at 5 p.m. at the arena; live music with Girls, Guns and glory at 6 p.m. at the Riverview restaurant; class of 1982 and 1987 reunions at 6 p.m. at the Riverview restaurant; and a 9:30 p.m. outdoor showing of the movie “Miracle” on a 21-foot screen at 9:30 p.m. on the St. Lawrence Central athletic field.

The festival rounds out on Sunday with St. Lawrence Central lacrosse alumni game; a chicken barbecue and lawn mower races at 1 p.m. at the North Lawrence Park; and live music with the Old time Fiddlers from 1 to 4 p.m. at LBSH.

For more details on any of the events, visit the Tri-Town Summer Festival website at www.tritownsummerfestival.com.

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