Triad Magazine

A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.


Radio Controlled Planes Show to Name Its Top Gun

By Lydia Dorsey

Watching his radio-controlled F-100 scale model crashing is the least of Mark Taylor’s worries. He just wants to get his plane off the ground. Taylor is an airline pilot from Fresno, Cailf., and is one of several contestants at Top Gun, a world radio control model aircraft competition. Top Gun, a worldwide radio control model aircraft competition. Top Gun is different than some air show events because it is an invitation-only event.
Pilots from around the world come to Lakeland Linder Airport with high hopes of winning the Top Gun title and trophy. Frank Tiano, the owner of ZAP Adhesives and promoter of the event, actually began this competition in 1989. Although this event travels to more than 30 states and over 200 cities, this is only its fifth year in Lakeland. “There is just something about watching all your hard work come to life in the air,” Tiano said.
Model aircrafts can get pricey. Most of the planes and jets at the event cost about $9,000 but range from $5,000 to $50,000. The Top Gun competition requires the planes to be certified replicas, and proper paperwork is required to compete.
This competition consists of 15 judges, 10 different categories, over 280 entries and at last count over 6,000 spectators. There are bleacher-style seating and grassy areas for the whole family to bring a blanket and watch the skies. The event is animal-friendly in designated areas and has a food court in the middle of all the activities. Admission is $10, but children 7 and under are admitted free of charge. Participants encourage event-goers to bring their kids.
“There is so much to see and do that kids and adults will have a great time,” said Susan Myles, a third-year member of the Show Stopper team. Myles travels with her children and says she wouldn’t have it any other way. “My kids love to see all the different planes,” Myles said.
This year’s winner received $25,000 and bragging rights as the show’s“Top Gun.”
For more information or to find out about participation in next year’s Top Gun go to

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