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Planes, models and full-scale, will enliven air show

The Southern Tier Aero Radio Society (STARS) is eager to share the spotlight for this weekend's annual radio-controlled model airplane rally even if it means being dwarfed by full-scale jets and visiting vintage aircraft on the tarmac.

STARS and the event's 30-year host, Cattaraugus County-Olean Municipal Airport, will share top billing this weekend as the city-owned facility stages its first open house at 5420 Hatch Hill Road.

The 1941 Historical Aircraft Group will arrive with jets, experimental craft and vintage biplanes for display during the rally.

The Geneseo Heritage Air Museum's C-47 Dakota, the "Gooney Bird" of World War II fame -- and called a DC-3 twin-engine in the commercial aviation world -- will be one of the sights and can be toured near the terminal, alongside many of the local aircraft based at the regional airport.

More than 100 radio-control enthusiasts and several hundred giant-scale radio-control aircraft will put on an air show over turf Runway 16-34 from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

During those times main Runway 4-22 will be closed to air traffic.

STARS president Richard W. Say said his organization is proud of the long relationship with the city, which kept the airport open during last year's rally and is positioning the facility to attract developers and improve the area's business climate.

He recalled that when Mayor David Carucci saw the thousands of spectators in attendance at the 2006 rally, he decided to stage this weekend's open house to showcase the airport.

"I know there aren't many people who realize the Olean airport can accommodate the largest corporate aircraft and jets that can carry 40 to 50 people. There are corporations looking for places to settle and they won't set up where there is no airport," Say added.

As city officials and volunteer members of the Olean Cattaraugus County Airport Support Group began planning for the open house, they did not know that the $1 million renovation of the terminal, remodeling of the main hangar, offices and the taxiway would be in full swing for much of this summer.

"Please excuse our mess, we're fixing the place up," said Carey Litteer of the Support Group.

All proceeds -- from the group's Saturday morning fly-in, drive-in pancake breakfast, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the main hangar, and the chicken barbecue beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday -- will be devoted to improving airport facilities.

"Right now the city only has the capability to keep the place open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily with three part-time employees," Litteer said.

The Support Group will send proceeds to the city to help fund improvements and to pay for a National Weather Service up-link to help pilots find the airport, purchase fuel and use its facilities.

Campsites, next to the turf runway but without hookups, are available to STARS Rally visitors for the weekend for $10. Food will be available at the event and a Saturday evening wine and cheese party will be followed by Park Flyer & U-Control night flying.

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